The Giants could get S Kenny Phillips (knee) back this weekend in a pivotal game against the Ravens, and at this point they’ll take all the defensive help they can get. The Giants can go with Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown as their starters and work Phillips back into the rotation if they want to because Brown has emerged as a playmaker and Rolle is the most versatile defender in the secondary.
But the picture might be becoming clearer: Phillips, who once was viewed as a cornerstone of the defense, could be playing his final few games with the club.
His contract is up after the season, and though the Giants would be interested in bringing him back, it would be at their price — and not a dollar more or a year longer.
GM Jerry Reese is respected around the league for his hard-line decisions, such as allowing WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss go following the 2010 season — without clear replacements on the roster — when the money got too rich.
It’s that measured approach to the salary cap and roster management that could be applied to Phillips’ situation. He has been limited to six games this season, and though he’s coming off what was his finest regular season in 2011, some sources indicate the Giants might not think that Phillips’ arrow is still pointing up.
He’s still young, just turning 26 in late November, but the chronic knee problems have been a worry after he missed most of the 2009 season with what some people feared was a career-altering injury.
If a safety-needy team comes strong with a big-money offer in free agency, Phillips likely will move on. Think the Redskins — who certainly wouldn’t mind pillaging their division rivals and seldom have been shy in free agency — might dip a toe into that water? Perhaps.