The Giants had a free-agency flashback Tuesday with the return of cornerback Aaron Ross, a former first-round draft pick who had left the team on the open market just a year ago. They also said goodbye to tight end Martellus Bennett, who spent just one year with the Giants before signing a four-year contract with the Bears last night.
All in all, it was a relatively quiet first day of the league year for the Giants. Just as they promised it would be. "You're not going to see any Albert Haynesworth-type deals out of us this year," team president and CEO John Mara said on Monday. "We'll still look to add some players, but not at big numbers."
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After a season with the Jaguars, Ross, the 2007 first-rounder, agreed to a one-year deal, according to sources. He is expected to sign his contract later this week after a physical.
Bennett, meanwhile, agreed to a four-year contract with the Bears. He played on a one-year "prove it" contract with the Giants in 2012 and caught a career-high 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns, evidently enough to prove himself to the Bears.
The Giants made an effort to re-sign Bennett as free agency drew near. His departure is the latest turnover for the Giants at the tight end position and follows the departures of Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard since the start of the 2011 season. The Giants were prepared to lose Bennett.
"We've got a couple of young kids we're excited about in Adrian Robinson [a fourth-round pick in last year's draft] and Larry Donnell [a practice squad player in 2012]," Mara said when it seemed likely Bennett would bolt. "We'll work with them. And Bear Pascoe will be back and there's always the draft, so there are ways to replace him."
The return of Ross, 30, gives the Giants added depth and a veteran familiar with the team's system in the secondary. Ross won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants and should be a reliable backup at cornerback behind projected starters Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara. Ross also played some safety at the end of his time with the Giants, so he could pitch in there with the expected loss of Kenny Phillips to free agency.
Notes & quotes: Don't expect WR Domenik Hixon back with the Giants in 2013. The free agent received an early offer from the Lions Tuesday but will table it to see if he receives more interest from teams in the coming days. The Giants are not expected to be in those discussions . . . Despite not tendering him as a restricted free agent, the Giants re-signed RB Ryan Torain. He'll join a backfield that includes David Wilson and Andre Brown . . . Released Giants DT Chris Canty signed with the Ravens, a three-year deal worth a reported $8 million. Those terms sound familiar? It's basically the same package the Giants gave this week to Cullen Jenkins, Canty's replacement on the defensive line . . . If the Giants cannot re-sign G Kevin Boothe, one option they are exploring is Jets G Matt Slauson.