The New York Giants are very interested in signing Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who's eligible for free agency if New England doesn't re-sign him by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. But the Giants' stiffest competition for McCourty could come from inside their own division.
Based on the conversations I've had with people close to the situation over the past couple of days, I believe that McCourty is drawing serious interest from the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, each of whom is serious about spending big money to sign the top safety on this year's free-agent market. The Patriots also still hold out hope that McCourty will return to the team with which he won the Super Bowl last month, but my impression is that New England is not eager to get into a bidding war with outside suitors if McCourty is going to get a deal in the range of $9 million or $10 million per year.
The Eagles have freed up a lot of cap room over the past few weeks by releasing veterans such as Trent Cole, Cary Williams and Todd Herremans and agreeing to trade LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, and they appear interested in spending big to upgrade their secondary. They're working on a deal to bring in Byron Maxwell, the top cornerback on this year's market, and would like to pair him in their rebuilt secondary with the top safety on the market if they can.
The Giants have a glaring need at safety. All three of the players who started games for them at the position last year -- Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps -- are eligible for free agency, and the only one with whom they've made any progress toward a new deal is Brown. The sense around the Giants is that rather than the high-volume approach they took in free agency last year when they had to rebuild their roster with 23 signings, they're more focused on adding high-impact players -- that they'd rather spend a lot of money on one or two difference-makers than a little bit of money on a dozen or so above-average guys. They view McCourty as a difference-maker at safety -- a position on which they place a lot of value -- and they hope his New Jersey roots help pull him in their direction. McCourty went to high school at St. Joseph's in Montvale, New Jersey, and to college at Rutgers.
What remains to be seen is whether the Giants can compete with an Eagles team determined to get the specific players coach Chip Kelly is targeting. There's talk of Maxwell getting more than $10 million per year from Philadelphia, which is also close to a deal with running back Frank Gore, and it may be that Philadelphia is determined to outbid everyone to get their guys.
If the Giants don't get McCourty, they could shift their focus down the safety market to someone like Denver's Rahim Moore or Kansas City's Ron Parker. They're also at work on their defensive line, as they have expressed interest in Arizona defensive tackle Dan Williams and were among the teams to reach out to Buffalo defensive end Jerry Hughes early in the process. It sounds as though Buffalo is working to sign Hughes before Tuesday, but the Giants will continue to poke around on free-agent defensive linemen to help build Steve Spagnuolo's pass rush.