It was an all-day process, but by late Friday night, the Giants had agreed to a deal with free-agent safety Antrel Rolle. The five-year, $37-million contract includes $15 million in guaranteed money, according to sources.
The Giants first began pursuing Rolle on Thursday, shortly after he was released by Arizona. The sides agreed in principle to the basic terms of a deal earlier Friday, but Rolle waited to sign until he heard from the Cardinals. He had promised them a chance to match any offer. And on a day when the Cardinals lost free-agent linebacker Karlos Dansby to the Dolphins and traded receiver Anquan Boldin to the Ravens, they were considering it.
"They went toe-to-toe with the Giants," agent Drew Rosenhaus said of the Cardinals' efforts on Sirius NFL Radio.
The entire Cardinals organization seemed to be pulling for Rolle's return. Defensive end Darnell Dockett made this pitch: "I'd take a pay cut to keep Antrell Rolle," he Tweeted. "I don't know if it would help much, but I will."
It didn't help, and Rolle now is a safety for the Giants.
Rolle was due a $4-million roster bonus next week from the Cardinals and was to earn $8.1 million for the 2010 season, a $12.1-million price tag that made him too expensive for the Cardinals.
The Giants see safety as a priority this offseason, particularly with uncertainty surrounding the return of Kenny Phillips from microfracture surgery on an arthritic knee. They were in contact with unrestricted free agent Darren Sharper and reportedly reached out to restricted free agents Antoine Bethea of the Colts and Oshiomogho Atogwe of the Rams as backup plans in case the Rolle negotiations fell apart.
Rolle was drafted as a cornerback out of the University of Miami and was converted to free safety. He recorded 10 interceptions in the last three seasons, including one against the Giants in 2009.
General manager Jerry Reese noted that the team was looking for a safety in case Phillips could not return (or return to a high level) in 2010.
"I don't think you can put all your eggs in Kenny's basket right now because that's a tough injury to come back from," Reese said at the NFL Combine last week, "so we'll try to be prepared if he doesn't come back 100 percent."
Carr visits 49ers. QB David Carr, a Fresno State product, will visit with the 49ers, according to reports. The Cardinals and Browns also are expressing interest in Carr, who spent the last two seasons backing up Eli Manning. The Giants would love to have Carr back, but he is looking to compete for playing time.