After a generation of believing you can never have too many pass rushers, the Giants appear to be changing their focus to the back end of their defense.
Facing an increasingly pass-happy league in which teams use mobile quarterbacks and quick releases, the Giants made their biggest free-agent addition at cornerback since Everson Walls in 1990 by signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Monday.
The 27-year-old, considered the best cornerback still available on the market, signed a five-year deal worth a reported $35 million with $15 million guaranteed. The addition came after a weekend-long negotiating tug-of-war with the Jets, who still are searching for a replacement for his cousin, Antonio Cromartie, released March 9.
Rodgers-Cromartie joins a Giants defensive backfield that appears to be modeled after the blueprint the Seahawks and their "Legion of Boom" defense used to win Super Bowl XLVIII. In fact, the Giants added a player directly from Seattle over the weekend, cornerback Walter Thurmond, who is expected to cover slot receivers.
Prince Amukamara is penciled in at cornerback opposite Rodgers-Cromartie. The secondary also includes safeties Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Will Hill along with Quintin Demps, who also will return kickoffs.
Meanwhile, pass-rushing defensive linemen the Giants once coveted such as Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph bolted in free agency without competitive offers from the Giants, and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka took a substantial pay cut for 2014, dropping his base salary from $4.375 million to $1.5 million, according to NFLPA records.
"I definitely believe this is a championship team," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "They're bringing in a lot of pieces, so I definitely think it's going in the right direction."
Rodgers-Cromartie has played in 92 regular-season games with 75 starts and has started all nine postseason games in which he played, including two Super Bowls. He has 19 career interceptions, five of them returned for touchdowns.
The Giants will be Rodgers-Cromartie's fourth NFL team. He was drafted by the Cardinals, was traded to the Eagles and signed with the Broncos.
"I haven't really found anywhere to just call home for real," he said. "So if I can just settle down and find a place to be home, I know my best football is ahead of me."
Notes & quotes: The Giants also agreed to terms with Trindon Holliday on a one-year deal Monday, giving them depth at receiver and, more significantly, another dangerous kick returner to match with Demps, who was signed over the weekend . . . The Raiders signed offensive lineman Kevin Boothe to a two-year deal . . . Former Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer, coming off microfracture knee surgery, left the Giants without a deal . . . Wide receiver Mario Manningham, the former Giant who spent the last two years with the 49ers, arrived at the team facility for a free-agent visit early Monday night.