Antrel Rolle on the Departure of Kenny Phillips: “It Hurts Me Everyday”

The New York Giants selected Kenny Phillips in the first-round of the 2008 NFL Draft after the departure of Gibril WIlson left the team with a void in the defensive backfield. It took Phillips over half of a season to emerge as a starter, but he eventually made the most of the Giants' investment in him, as his eight interceptions and 263 tackles over five seasons established him as one of the best over-the-top safeties in the NFL. In fact, it was Phillips who knocked down Tom Brady's final Hail Mary to the end zone in Super Bowl XLVII, sealing the Giants second Super Bowl victory in five seasons.

However, Phillips' time as a member of the Giants was marred by a series of serious knee injuries. In 2009, Phillips was diagnosed with patellofemoral arthritis in his left knee, a condition the forced him to receive microfracture knee surgery and miss the final 14 games of the season. Last year, Phillips sprained his MCL against the Philadelphia Eagles and was never able to return to form. After rejecting an offer from the Giants as an unrestricted free-agent this offseason, Phillips signed with the Eagles.

Giants safety Antrel Rolle says that while he's disappointed to see Phillips in another uniform, he respects his former teammates decision to seek a fresh start in a new city.

"It hurts me everyday," Rolle said. "It's a business, and we all understand that it's a business. I just want Kenny to go out and make the best of the opportunity and get a huge pay day. That's all I've ever wanted for him. That's all I've wanted for any of my teammates."

The Giants did make Phillips a "modest" offer to return in 2013, but Phillips elected to sign a one-year, $2 million contract with the Eagles. It was a deal that raised suspicions regarding Phillips desire to return to the Giants, as it's unlikely the team was not offering a contract of a similar wage. Phillips had previously expressed his disdain with how the Giants medical staff handled his knee injury last season, which could have played a role in his decision to leave in the offseason.

With the emergence os Stevie Brown, Will Hill and the acquisition of Ryan Mundy, the Giants will be able to use multiple safety sets once again this season. Additionally, the team drafted Richmond safety Cooper Taylor in the fifth-round, whose combination of size and speed will allow the Giants to develop and slowly integrate him into the defense. Taylor's arrival may not have an impact on the defense in 2013, but given Rolle's $7 million salary cap hit next season, it's possible Rolle follows in the foot steps of Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty and Michael Boley in being kicked to the curb in favor of cheaper talent.

"Whether or not I'm next [to get cut], that's not my call to make," Rolle said. "I'm here to wear a Giants uniform and whenever I put it on, I just try to give 120 percent when I'm on the field. I don't make the decisions."

Without Kenny Phillips on the roster, the Giants will look to Rolle to lead the group of young and inexperienced safeties and transform them into a strength of the defense. However, the better job Rolle does at helping the talent behind him on the depth chart improve, the greater his chances are of being asked to take a significant pay cut before next season, or possibly even released. As general manager Jerry Reese made abundantly clear with his moves this offseason, nearly every player on the roster is expandable, regardless of past contributions to the team.

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