Michael Boley celebrates with teammates after getting an interception during...

Michael Boley celebrates with teammates after getting an interception during a game against the Carolina Panthers. (Sept. 20, 2012) Credit: Getty

Michael Boley, a key piece of the Giants' Super Bowl run a year ago who was demoted to a role player late in the 2012 season, has been cut by the team. The 30-year-old linebacker had one year left on his contract and was due a base salary of $4.25 million in 2013.

"Michael came in and learned our defense quickly and he added speed, coupled with big- play ability, to our defensive unit," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He also played an important role in helping us win Super Bowl XLVI. I wish him well as he moves forward in his career.''

Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty, who was honored at Tuesday night's's Thurman Munson dinner, called the news "a shock to the system.''

"It's tough,'' Canty said. "We knew there were going to have to be changes. Certainly after the way we performed down the stretch, changes are necessary. This football team did not play up to its potential, we did not play together. We have to find a way to fix that.''

Boley played sparingly in the final two games this past season, when Spencer Paysinger replaced him in the starting lineup. The Giants have a stable of younger (and cheaper) linebackers who could replace Boley, including Paysinger, Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams and even possibly Keith Rivers.

"We're going to have to do something,'' Canty said. "To have to replace a guy like that is going to be tough. Those guys don't come a dime a dozen in the National Football League.''

Canty issued a challenge to the linebackers who will try to fill Boley's role.

"They're not young anymore,'' he said. "They've got to step up and they've got to play. They have to perform. You can only ride that young thing out or that potential label out for so long.''

More changes are certain to come to the Giants during the next few months. Canty said he has not had any discussions with the team about his contract; he has two years remaining and a base salary of $6 million in 2013. But the decision to cut Boley shows that even those who were key pieces of a championship team a year ago are not secure.

"Michael Boley was brought here as a fast, athletic, versatile linebacker," Tom Coughlin said. "We recognized his special skills were in coverage. He's a smart player who made some big plays for us. He was an integral part of our Super Bowl XLVI championship team. Michael played outstanding football down the stretch for us that season.''

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