Giants wide receiver Steve Smith catches a pass in front...

Giants wide receiver Steve Smith catches a pass in front of New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer in the second half of a game in New Orleans. (Oct. 18, 2009) Credit: AP

Steve Smith said it was just business. For the Giants, though, it felt a little personal.

Tom Coughlin said Thursday he was upset not that Smith decided to sign with the Eagles and play for the team's biggest rival, but that the free-agent receiver did not give the Giants a chance to increase their bid for his services.

"It's like lining up for the race and you're in the locker room and nobody tells you the race is going to be run," Coughlin said. "That's the disappointing thing here. I don't think we were given the opportunity to do that."

Smith signed a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Eagles, with $2 million guaranteed. While the Giants have looked at their salary cap in recent weeks and decided that they could not spend the kind of money that departed free agents Barry Cofield and Kevin Boss received elsewhere, Coughlin made it sound as if the Giants could have scrounged up enough to compete with the Eagles' offer if given the chance.

General manager Jerry Reese, however, said free agency is a "dog-eat-dog" world and that Smith was under no obligation to inform the Giants of his intentions.

"I'm not blindsided or surprised by anything in free agency," Reese said. "I don't want to get into a 'he said, she said' situation, but you do expect some feedback . . . I don't feel I got a raw deal on anything. It's free agency. Guys can do whatever they want to do in free agency."

The "he said, she said" comment stems from Coughlin's remarks that the Giants were told by Smith and his agent that they would be kept in the loop.

"Our people had pursued an offer and tried to get this done a long time ago, but nothing ever came forth from their people," Coughlin said. "We were constantly told that if and when the market did develop that we would always be included in what was going on . . . From what I understand, there wasn't any involvement on our part at all. We were never brought into the discussion. And we were told we were going to."

Ben Dogra, Smith's agent, told the Star-Ledger of Newark that no such promises were made and even said he warned the Giants that another team was making a push on a one-year offer.

Reese said only that the Giants made a "responsible offer" to Smith. He also said there was concern on their part about Smith's health as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery.

"I have no hard feelings toward Steve," Reese said. "Steve did what he thought was best for him."

Smith's decision caught the entire organization off guard as word spread through the building among players between meetings Wednesday night. The Giants did not believe they would have Smith available to practice for another month or two, so they already were planning on going into the season without him. Still, barring any setbacks, they figured he would be back and playing in some capacity by the end of the season.

"Players go where the most money is," Brandon Jacobs said. "Guys don't just play this game because of their love of the game of football, they also play it to be well compensated, and I guess that's what the Eagles did with Steve."

"Steve has been a big part of our success here," Justin Tuck added, "but again, that business aspect of this game comes back to bite you sometimes."

More Giants

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months