The New York Giants decided not to use the franchise tag after wrapping up left tackle Will Beatty long term, leaving a cap-strapped team with three starters set to become unrestricted free agents in one week.
That has me wondering how much the G-Men value tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Kenny Phillips.
I'd imagine Big Blue wants both players to return, but only at the right price. Both are surrounded by very different circumstances, but the key is that the Giants might believe they have the depth at both positions to survive without Bennett and/or Phillips.
Beyond that, you have to consider that Bennett plays a position that the Giants don't seem to stress over. They were careless enough with Jake Ballard to expose him to waivers, letting the Patriots pounce. They let Kevin Boss walk. They traded Jeremy Shockey.
Considering that they spent a 2012 fourth-round pick on athletic Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson, and that Bear Pascoe signed a one-year deal earlier in the offseason, they don't likely feel the need to pay Bennett based on one big season—a contract year, it should be noted—with the team.
Bennett knows it. Here's what he wrote last in a series of tweets directed at WFAN's Paul Dottino, according to Pro Football Talk:
"I dunno bro. Not feeling the love. They have other priorities that come before little ole me. I'm just a small piece of what they're trying to do there. ... I've come to the conclusion that we are just temporary investments to the owners. Value money and growth over players. ... Just like any business. Employees aren't as valuable as we use to be. Everyone needs a job. Lol."
Bennett seems destined to hit the open market. He knows it, and he doesn't seem all too upset about it.
Unlike Bennett, Phillips has to fight against concerns regarding his ability to stay healthy. He might only be 26, but his bones are older than that and he's missed large chunks of two of the last four seasons.
Players that are injury-prone at that age don't usually suddenly become iron men, and it certainly isn't helping Phillips' case that Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown would make a stellar starting safety duo if he were to depart as a free agent.
Only Richard Sherman had more takeaways than Brown in 2012 and only Tim Jennings had more interceptions. Considering Brown started only 11 games, that's phenomenal.
Of course, that could have been somewhat fluky, and Phillips is a much more complete player. But Brown, who's a restricted free agent, would be cheaper under a tender ($2.7 million, max) or under a long-term deal.
Although he's not the player Phillips is, the reality is that the Giants have to prioritize guard Kevin Boothe over Phillips and Bennett. That's because there's no Bear Pascoe or Adrien Robinson or Stevie Brown or Will Hill to fall back on at left guard.
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reported over the weekend that Boothe and the team weren't near a deal. If that's the case and the team agrees with my suggestion that Boothe should take precedence, it's an indication that Bennett and Phillips are likely to hit the open market.
And if all three players reach free agency on March 12, there's a very good chance each of them gets overpaid. So if you thought the bleeding had stopped when the Giants released Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Ahmad Bradshaw in one 24-hour window in February, you were probably mistaken.
Big changes have already hit the Giants, but more are likely on the horizon.
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