If the latest indictment on troubled safety Will Hill sticks, the G-Men shouldn't face any backlash for ending the Hill era before the 24-year-old has another chance to take the field and tease us with his talents.
Fox Sports 1 NFL insider Mike Garafolo first reported on Tuesday that Hill is facing yet another drug suspension. He'll reportedly appeal, but this would be his third drug-related infraction in as many years in the NFL.
That's not something the Giants can tolerate, regardless of how skilled Hill is. They have to cut him loose, regardless of how long his impending suspension is.
As Conor Orr of the Newark Star-Ledger notes, that ban could be for an entire season.
It won't be easy. Have we mentioned that Hill's got some serious talent? In 10 starts as s sophomore last year, the Florida product had four takeaways, a touchdowns and 60 tackles. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he only missed four tackles.
PFF also concluded that opposing quarterbacks compiled a passer rating of just 62.0 when facing Hill in coverage, which was a major reason why he received the second-highest PFF grade in the league behind only Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots.
|PFF's top-graded safeties, 2013|
|1. Devin McCourty||Patriots||18.7|
|2. Will Hill||Giants||15.7|
|3. Eric Berry||Chiefs||14.5|
|4. T.J. Ward||Browns||14.5|
|5. Troy Polamalu||Steelers||12.2|
|Pro Football Focis|
Pretty good for a 23-year-old undrafted free agent in his second year.
When you throw in that the Giants only owe him $570,000 for 2014 with no strings attached beyond this season, you really begin to see how painful this experience will be for Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin and their cohorts.
However, the Giants can't afford to keep him on the roster at this point and they've got three very talented safeties not named Hill.
Antrel Rolle is a 31-year-old three-time Pro Bowler with plenty of gas left in the tank to occupy that starting strong safety spot.
Stevie Brown is coming off reconstructive knee surgery, but he'll have had a year to recover before the season starts. Remember, Brown, who ranked second in the league with eight interceptions in 2012, was supposed to be a full-time starter before being Wally Pipp-ed by Hill in 2013. If he's healthy, he's a top-flight playmaker.
Quintin Demps, who was picked up earlier in the offseason, could now be a lifesaver. The veteran had four interceptions while starting six games as part of a very good Kansas City Chiefs defense last season.
All three of those guys are more than capable, and there's still some hope for 2013 fifth-round pick Cooper Taylor too.
So cutting Hill won't necessarily impact the Giants' draft plans. They have the depth. Now, if anything, we may see them use fewer three-safety looks, but schematic shifts like those aren't too much to overcome—especially when you've got plenty of time to adjust and plenty of good cornerbacks capable of playing significant snaps.
After signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Zack Bowman in free agency, that position is now a major strength for Big Blue.
The three-strike rule doesn't really exist in this league, but even if it did, Hill would now be done. He was suspended for using Adderall in 2012 and again for marijuana in 2013. Just this past December, Ron Zeitlinger of The Jersey Journal reported that police "detected the odor of burned marijuana emanating from within" Hill's vehicle when he was pulled over and arrested in relation to unpaid child support.
Since 2008, Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News reports that he has fathered four children through three mothers.
To that point, despite all of that strife, New York's gamble appeared to be paying off. Two years ago, this team rolled the dice on a young man with legitimate character issues coming into the league.
The Giants got some very good results, at least on the field, for a short period of time—and at almost no cost. Hill's making next to nothing in NFL terms and didn't cost the Giants a draft pick.
Time to walk away from the craps table while you're still ahead.
"Whether he wins the appeal or not, one team source added that the Giants are livid at Hill’s continued drug issues and he’s likely 'done' with the team," writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
It's time to cut ties before even that basic initial investment is completely soured. It hurts to do so, especially because Hill is so young and so damn good at football. But with Rolle, Brown and Demps on board, it might not be crippling.
The worst part is that we'll always wonder what could have been.
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