Keith Bulluck didn't officially appear on the Giants' radar until about two weeks ago, when agent Gary Wichard gave him the lowdown on a scheduled workout with his hometown team.
"They were on my radar, to be quite honest, last year when Tennessee didn't sign me back in the beginning of the year," Bulluck said yesterday. "I kind of had to figure out and eyeball some teams that I might want to play for the following year because that gave me a great indication I wasn't going to come back as a Titan.
"When I got midway through the year and I was having the year that I was having and they still didn't show any indication that they were going to bring me back or re-sign me, the big picture was just in my head."
Bulluck, 33, agreed to a one-year, $2.5-million deal Saturday, but he thinks he'll be a Giant for the long term and might even finish his career roughly 30 minutes from the Rockland County town where he grew up.
He's seven months removed from left ACL surgery - he said his knee is about "90 percent" - and is expected to step into the starting middle linebacker spot vacated by Antonio Pierce's release, though he said that job hasn't been promised to him.
He doesn't seem worried about going from outside linebacker to playing in the middle full-time, noting he rotated between both positions in his final three seasons in Tennessee.
"I don't think there's much of a difference to me, man," he said. "It's football at the end of the day, and I'm a football player."
Bulluck chose the Giants over the Cardinals, in part because he thinks the Giants are a more solid team, with key pieces in place. The Giants have a proven quarterback in Eli Manning; Arizona must replace the retired Kurt Warner.
Any reservations Bulluck had about joining the Giants were smoothed over during a phone chat with former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. That conversation left Bulluck believing there was no way he couldn't accept the challenge to play for the Giants.
"I had 10 great years in Tennessee, and I've just completed a six-year deal and I saw every cent of it," Bulluck said. "Me and my family could easily ride off into the sunset and just leave it at that. But I still have that burning desire to come and play, and prove that I am one of the best linebackers in this league."