The New York Giants are reportedly not going to pick up free safety Antoine Bethea’s option for the 2020 season.
According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, Big Blue isn’t picking up the 2020 option on Bethea’s contract. The veteran safety signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal with New York last offseason. It’s an acquisition many Giants fans disliked from the beginning, given Bethea’s age (35 at the start of the 2019 campaign).
Accounting error on my end: This frees up $2.75M in cap savings and leaves the Giants with $125K in dead money. Not exactly the difference in landing Clowney or not, but wanted to clear that up.
— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) March 18, 2020
In his lone year in New York, the three-time Pro Bowler racked up a team-leading 110 combined tackles with one interception, six passes defended, and two fumble recoveries. He definitely showed his age in pass coverage though. Bethea allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 72.5% of their throws for 497 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bethea started all 16 games and wasn’t the only newcomer at the safety position. Jabrill Peppers, who the Giants acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, played and started in 11 games at the strong safety spot.
Where do the Giants go from here?
When a transverse process fracture ended Peppers’ season, rookie Julian Love stepped in and proved to be a productive option in the secondary. In 15 games (five starts total after Peppers’ injury), Love combined for 37 total tackles, five tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one interception, and one forced fumble.
With Jabrill hopefully returning healthy, the Giants could start Love at the free safety position. This would make Big Blue’s starting secondary very young, but still fresh and experienced. Potential starting cornerbacks Deandre Baker and James Bradberry will be 23 and 27 when the regular season starts, respectively. Love and Peppers will be 22 and 24, also respectively.
Nonetheless, Baker, Bradberry, Love, and Peppers will have one, four, one, and three seasons of NFL experience respectively under their belts. They’ll thus be used to the speed of pro football, something that could cause a rookie defensive back to struggle.
The Giants may also select Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons in the upcoming draft, regardless of when they choose. Simmons is primarily a linebacker but is versatile and athletic enough to play in the defensive backfield as well.
I’m not saying Simmons is going to be New York’s starting free safety if they draft him. But, he’ll definitely receive some reps in the secondary and would likely succeed in that type of role.