When the 71 jersey was first assigned to Justin Trattou at the beginning of training camp, we all figured it would mean the end of Dave Tollefson with the team. He’d worn that number throughout his career here and to give it to an undrafted rookie who plays the same position as Tollefson, well, it seemed to be a clear sign.
Tollefson didn’t think so.
“It’s all tactics,” he said with a chuckle. “I mean, come on, who’s going to wear 71 and look as good as me?”
Tollefson agreed to return to the Giants yesterday and signed his one-year deal with the team today. He also had his jersey number returned to him. There was, of course, a chance that he could have gotten the same number but in a black or a green. He had interest from the Raiders, Saints and Seahawks during his free agency. But ultimately he decided to come back to the Giants, even though it could mean less of an opportunity to play defensive end.
“I don’t think the free agent market materialized for guys like me like we thought it would,” he said of the compressed schedule that left those who normally sign in the second or third weeks of the process against the deadlines of the start of the season. “Why wouldn’t I come back here? It was obviously the best option at this point in time. I wouldn’t look right in 71 in some other color. You’d think I was Kroy Biermann.”
Tollefson laughed at the idea that he was added to the Giants’ roster to lure Osi Umenyiora off his exercise bike. “It makes me feel good that they think I’m that good,” he said of those who speculated as such. “You could argue that maybe if they brought someone else in. But I’m just Dave, man. Osi knows me, the Giants know me. I am what I am.”
What he is is a solid spot defensive player and a special teams demon.
As for that one-year contract, Tollefson maybe it’s not an issue and he’ll give free agency another test next year when the process is longer.
“Obviously I’ve been buried on the depth chart here,” he said. “I’ve got two All-Pros in front of me and two first round picks also. Is the grass always greener? I found out that maybe it isn’t.”
And this year, neither is his jersey.