Barry Cofield is participating in the Giants' voluntary offseason workouts. He'll lift weights and work on his conditioning and refine his technique. But one thing he hasn't yet done - and appears to be in no rush to do - is sign the tender offer the Giants gave him as a restricted free agent.
"I guess it's just about when I want to mosey upstairs and sign the paper," Cofield said. "I don't really feel any urgency to do it."
Cofield is one of a few hundred NFL players who would have been unrestricted free agents this offseason but, due to the uncapped year and new regulations on free agency, had little chance to move or collect offers from other teams as restricted free agents. The Giants gave him a second-round tender that, when signed, will pay him $1.759 million for the 2010 season. None of it guaranteed. With no signing bonus.
"If they would have given me a low tender there would have been a good chance that I would have been able to move," Cofield said, noting that other teams were hesitant to give up a second-round pick just for the chance to sign him to a contract. "With the second round tender, it's like they make it clear that they want you around but not enough to give you a long-term deal. What that means sometimes is hard to decipher."
Cofield is not the only player in the same situation. There was talk earlier in the offseason that the players affected by the uncapped year would not show up to team activities or boycott minicamps as hold-outs. Cofield said he considered such action.
"I think that's something that should be handled on a case-by-case basis," he said. "With this organization, from what I've learned and from the vets around here, you're not going to bully this team into doing anything they don't want to do . . . When they tendered me I figured that's what they figured I deserved. I told them how I felt about it and what my thoughts were, but other than that I want to be here. I want to work. Not working out last offseason I think cost me during the season and I don't want to go through that again."
Coming off a year in which he was recovering from knee surgery and did not play as well as he had in the past, the situation might work out in Cofield's favor. If he has a better season in 2010 than 2009, he'll likely find a stronger market for his services next offseason.
"It's almost like you hit the reset button and go into your contract year again," Cofield said. "There's still the option of negotiating with the team during the year or next year. I'd love to be here and I think if I play well, I will be. That's what it boils down to. My main goal is to go out and play well and show them that I'm healthier and stronger than I was last year and things will work out. If not, there are 31 other teams."
Shaun O'Hara, the team's union rep, said he's had several conversations with Cofield about his situation. He described Cofield's situation like running a marathon and getting to the finish line only to be told that there is another mile to go.
"He's a good player and he deserves a contract and he'll get it," O'Hara said. "It might just be a year later than he would have liked."
The problem with waiting a year is the risk of injury. If Cofield were to suffer a career-threatening injury this season, his value would be diminished to almost zero.
"There are also inherent risks every time you step on the field," Cofield said. "Everyone had a moment to feel sorry for themselves because they weren't going to be free agents, but it's time to move on. There's nothing you can do about it. I'm not a disgruntled guy. I'm not going upstairs and complaining about my contract. I'm going to play it out and whatever happens next happens next."
OTHER RESTRICTEDS STILL UNSIGNED. WR Domenik Hixon signed his tender offer from the Giants Thursday, a second-round tender that will pay him $1.684 million in 2010. That leaves three restricted free agents who have yet to sign: Cofield, LB Gerris Wilkinson and WR Derek Hagan. All are expected to sign by the June deadline. Thursday is the deadline for other teams to make offers to the restricted free agents.