Olivier Vernon isn’t just another free agent pick-up for the Giants. He is the centerpiece of their offseason spending spree with a five-year contract worth $85 million. So of course the defensive end understands that he comes to the team and this market with heightened expectations.
“I’d be a fool not to believe that,” he said on Friday after his first training camp practice with the Giants.
Some people, though, might think the Giants were foolish to give him that deal. They took a player who has never been to a Pro Bowl, never appeared in a playoff game and has one double-digit sack season in his career and made him one of the highest paid defensive linemen in NFL history.
“It is what it is,” Vernon said. “You watch on film and you see what I can do. If you [feel there is] something wrong about that [contract], then you can go against me and we’ll see what happens.”
Vernon, 25, said the contract wasn’t much of a topic of conversation as he spent the past few weeks training and hanging out with fellow NFL players. And when it did come up, most players were happy for him. Certainly the defensive linemen who signed contracts after he set the market were thrilled.
Vernon also said he doesn’t think the contract will change him. He has yet to make a big purchase with his Giants money — he said he can’t decide what to buy, other than looking for a place to live in the area — and he isn’t focused on paychecks as much as helping the Giants get back to the playoffs.
“At the end of the day, it’s football,” he said. “I don’t think football changes once you get money. In my eyes it don’t. I’m just coming up here, different scenery, coming to play football, man. That’s it.”