After a tenure of up and down (and sadly injury marred) performances, the New York Giants felt Prince Amukamara “had to go.”
By Jack Aylmer
Former New York Giants punter Jeff Feagles and linebacker Jessie Armstead recently hosted a Q&A event at Quest Diagnostics Training Center, presented by Modell’s Sporting Goods.
Meanwhile, Armstead played for 12 years, was a four-time All-Pro linebacker, and is a member of the Giants’ Ring of Honor. He has been a special assistant/consultant with the Giants’ coaching staff since 2008.
The pair fielded questions and discussed Big Blue’s 2016 draft haul, free agent acquisitions, and a few of their thoughts on the team’s upcoming season.
However, it was a comment made by Armstead on the departure of former starting cornerback Prince Amukamara that peeked my interest the most.
This offseason Amukamara bolted to join the Jacksonville Jaguars, following the signing of Janoris Jenkins by New York.
Amukamara signed a one year, six million dollar deal with the Jags, only three million of which was guaranteed. It seemed a bit odd that a player who can preform at a near Pro Bowl caliber level (when healthy) couldn’t get a similar offer from his former team, despite the Jenkins signing.
Well according to Armstead, Prince “had to go.”
What that meant exactly was unclear, but Armstead did go on to site that Jenkins being a better man coverage corner than Amukamara as one of the reasons the team moved on former Nebraska Cornhusker.
Jenkins has amassed 10 interceptions over his four year career to Amukamara’s seven over his five year NFL run.
However, neither Armstead nor Feagles said anything else about any of the other offseason departures: Will Beatty, Geoff Schwartz, Robert Ayers, and Rueben Randle who all started games for Big Blue over the past couple of years, but none of them were spoken about as needing to have been ridden of, let alone mentioned at all.
It begs the question, was there something more going on with Amukamara behind the scenes? It would come as a shock, seeing as the one-time Super Bowl Champion always carried himself like a true professional during his tenure in New York.
With Armstead being a coach and as close to the organization as any, he clearly has knowledge about how the team and rest of the coaching staff felt about Amukamara.
For him to say he “had to go” likely means the team was sour on Prince for one reason or another.
Sure, it could be the Giants just flat-out did not like Amukamara as a player and saw no value in bringing him back.
Plus his physical style of play and excellent run support instincts aren’t the attributes of a slot corner, and he’s played in all 16 games just once in his five year career – performing way below his typical standard after returning from a partially torn pectoral during the second half of the 2015 season.
During Weeks 1-5, Amukamara tallied 32 combined tackles, seven passes defended, one interception, and one forced fumble.
After returning from injury during Week 12, he had a six game stretch to close out the season in which his numbers fell in every statistical category, despite playing in more games – he had 31 tackles, three passes defended, no interceptions, and no forced fumbles during over that span.
Yet, Armstead did touch upon the departure of former head coach Tom Coughlin, a man many would say definitely fell short often last season, but never said he “had to go.” He instead offered his deepest respects to the Giants’ former head man, saying nothing negative of Coughlin.
The bottom line: it was reported throughout free agency that New York hadn’t approached Amukamara about a new contract and the deal he did end up signing was well below what a lot of people projected his value to be.
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com predicted he would land a deal of four years, $35.3 million with $18.2 million guaranteed.
Raanan’s projected contract was “derived from the average of five league sources surveyed. The panel consists of a front office executive, salary cap experts and agents.”
Hell, even Pacman Jones got $20 million over three years at age 32.
Perhaps Amukamara’s value was marred by his injury history, but for a guy who was playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2014 to receive a deal closer to the one Marcus Sherels got, than the one an almost 30 year old Tracy Porter got, is pretty eye opening.