Chris Snee has held a lot of jobs for the Giants during his 10-year career. First and foremost he was a blocker, an All-Pro guard. Then he became a leader. He was a mentor to Justin Pugh and other young players last year. And, although he played just three games in 2013, he did so with a captain's "C" on his chest for the first time.
Now, Snee feels like he has a new responsibility toward the only NFL team he has ever known. He knows it's time for him to take a salary reduction to help the Giants compete in the upcoming free agency market. He is currently scheduled to earn just under $7 million in base salary in 2014 with a cap number over $11 million.
"I never complained, even when I was a younger guy about my rookie deal, never complained about wanting to make more money," Snee said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday morning. "I've always been willing to restructure. And now comes a time when I know my number is high and the most important thing is to be a part of a winning team. My role is to take the pay cut and bring in guys who can help the team."
There is no word yet on how much of a pay cut Snee will take. He said his representatives are working with the Giants now on a deal that will "absolutely" get done. It could wind up being a deal similar to what his former teammates, the now retired David Diehl, accepted last season. Close to the veteran's minimum, perhaps a small signing bonus.
The Giants are hoping that another veteran lineman feels the same way. They are renegotiating with center David Baas who has won a Super Bowl with the Giants but whose ties to the team - both professionally and personally - are not as deep as Snee's. It's unclear if Baas will accept the proposed pay cut.
Snee just turned 32 and is coming off hip and elbow surgery that shut him down in 2013. He also had surgery for a similar injury on the opposite hip last offseason, which had him limping into training camp. Those injuries had him considering retirement.
"I think that's natural to start developing a plan for what you're going to do after you are done," Snee said. "Having been taken away from the game for a little bit this past season ? as I'm preparing for surgery and then post-surgery, that was what I was thinking about, trying to wait until I was healthy before I would make a decision as to whether or not I wanted to try this again. It became clear to me in January as I'm watching the playoff stretch that my passion for the game is still there. So that's when I knew that I still have it in me and I wanted to give it every shot that I can to come back and help the team right [the ship]."
That final aspect, he said, was most significant to his decision.
"The main thing that was eating at me was the way in which our team played, leaving the team on a bad note," he said of the 7-9 season. "Being a part of the offensive line for 10 years where we were the strength and now to sit back and listen to all the criticism and leaving the team when it's at its lowest point, it doesn't sit well with me. I want to do what I can. Listen, if I come back and somebody beats me out and I have to mentor young guys and that's my role in this whole deal, I'm all for it. Whatever I can do to help things get back on the right path is my mindset."
"This is all I've known," he added. "To have your dream job, you don't want to walk away from it and regret it. Obviously you want to play as long as you can."
Snee said he was happy to receive support from teammates during his decision-making process, teammates who indicated that they needed him to return. And he said he feels healthy. He is running and doing leg exercises, something he was unable to do until training camp last year coming off the first hip surgery. He's focusing now on regaining his upper-body strength following elbow surgery.
"I'm curious to see how the OTAs and the minicamp part goes just because all of the training I'm doing, I haven't done the football parts," he said. "So when I get out there, my mindset is that my hips are going to feel great as I'm being told they will and I'll breeze through these OTAs and I'll be pain-free. That's kind of what I'm thinking and I'll let you know come June."