Cofield sees a new team in his future

New York Giants unrestricted free-agent defensive tackle Barry Cofield seems resigned to the fact that he’ll likely be playing elsewhere next season.

Cofield, 27, wants be paid like a “quality NFL starter,” and the five-year veteran believes he’s going to have to leave the organization to get his money.

“Yeah, if they make a competitive offer, sure (I’d listen),” Cofield told the Newark (N.J) Star-Ledger on Monday afternoon. “But based on the things I’ve been hearing, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. Hopefully, I’ll get fair-market value that other quality starters get. From what I’m hearing, I don’t think the Giants can pay that amount.

“If they were competitive, absolutely. But to say I’d take an unfair contract or be willing to be paid less than that, no way I’m going to do that.”

The Giants would love to keep Cofield in the fold, but according to ESPN.com’s John Clayton, they’re already $6.1 million over the projected salary cap of $120 million and want to keep unrestricted free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw, tight end Kevin Boss, wide receiver Steve Smith and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, along with potentially re-working the contract of disgruntled defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Given their limited remaining financial resources, and the fact that they’ve selected defensive tackles (Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin) in the second round of the past two drafts, the Giants appear likely to be headed in a different direction.

“I expect to hear from them. They promised they would call regardless,” Cofield told the newspaper. “Whether or not they can make a competitive offer, I expect to hear from them. If they extend the courtesy to give me a call and let me know yay or nay, to check back in with them, I’ll do that for them. They gave me an opportunity to play in this league and we did some great things together.”

The Giants are the only franchise Cofield has ever known. They selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, and the 27-year-old has appeared in 79 out of a possible 80 regular season games ever since. Last season, Cofield, set career-highs for both tackles (54) and sacks (4.0).

“Being a free agent, it’s going to be a whirlwind,” Cofield told the newspaper. “If you’re a guy who’s high on the list, as soon as the clock starts ticking you’ll be talking to teams and signing. A lot of people are going to be concerned about their families and looking for places to live.

“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking, anxious, but all in all it’s a blessing to even be in this situation.”

Because the lockout was lifted on Monday, teams can begin signing all free agents on Tuesday, but the deals cannot be made official until Friday at 6 p.m. The Giants have 15 unrestricted free agents.

“It’s exciting to know we’re going to be playing football as opposed to all this courtroom stuff and all of these interviews and stuff,” Cofield told the newspaper. “Everyone, the fans and media, owners everyone, is tired of the speculation and is ready to get down to the game we love.”