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Whittle, Green, Alexander


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Giants: Clear salary cap space, release Green, Whittle

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Star-Ledger Staff


INDIANAPOLIS -- Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi was asked yesterday what the multiple contract extensions the team handed several starting players last year gives him heading into free agency.


"What it gives me is no cap room," he said half-jokingly at the NFL scouting combine.


That's not exactly the case, Accorsi then clarified. The Giants actually have a bit of room -- about $6 million after cutting linebacker Barrett Green and offensive lineman Jason Whittle yesterday and announcing the impending release of safety Brent Alexander.


But they will use some of that to tender tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, a restricted free agent, and hope to use some more on multiyear deals for defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy and punt/kick returner Chad Morton. Accorsi was confident both players will remain with the Giants. Pro Bowl special-teamer David Tyree is also a restricted free agent, but he will likely receive a long-term contract from the Giants.


"We have some room, depending on what the cap figure is going to be," Accorsi said. "But obviously, not the kind of room we had last year (nearly $10 million heading into free agency)."


In the past few weeks, the salary cap was projected to be around $92 million. But more recent reports have pegged it at about $96 million. That would give the Giants more money for a cornerback, linebacker or safety -- their three biggest positions of need.


Before they add, though, they began to subtract.


As first reported in yesterday's Star-Ledger, the Giants parted with Green, whose two-year tenure with the team was filled with injuries, fines and disagreements with coach Tom Coughlin. Green played only 11 games after signing a five-year contract two years ago.


"I'm looking forward to a new opportunity," Green said yesterday afternoon in a text message. "I'm healthy now and that will dictate my future."


When Accorsi stepped to the podium a few minutes before noon yesterday, he announced the release of Green, 28, and Whittle, 30, and also said Alexander had retired. However, that was a premature announcement, as the 34-year-old hasn't yet made an official decision. His agent, Jim Solano, said there was a miscommunication between Alexander and the team.


Regardless of whether Alexander retires or not, his days as a Giant are over. The team will give him the rest of the weekend to retire. If he doesn't, he will be released, Accorsi said. James Butler, a rookie free agent last season who earned playing time in the dime defense, is currently the best bet to replace Alexander as the starting free safety.


Punter Jeff Feagles, who was considering retirement, appears likely to return under a schedule that will allow him to spend part of each week with his family in Arizona.


Whittle became expendable when backup guard Rich Seubert signed a two-year extension earlier this month.


"It just gets to a point that, cap-wise, we can't afford everybody," Accorsi said. "We did tell him depending on if there is an extension of the CBA and there is more money, we would consider bringing him back for depth reasons because he's a very popular player."


Chiefs coach Herman Edwards tried his best not to answer questions about the Jets and QB Chad Pennington, but eventually caved when peppered with repeat questions.


"It's a big deal. There's no doubt about it," Edwards' said of Pennington's injury and contract situations. "But if anybody can do it, I believe Chad can do it. That's his mental toughness, what type of guy he is. He's a unique individual, he really is.


"He played with that thing all tore up those last five or six games (in 2004) and made the playoffs. If anybody can do it, Chad can do it. I'm praying for him."


Pennington's agent, Tom Condon, was to meet with Jets management this weekend to speak about the QB's hefty contract and a possible pay cut to help with the Jets' bloated salary cap. Edwards said he has spoken to Pennington recently, but refused to divulge any details.


Pennington isn't the only one he has kept in touch with.


"All of those guys," he said. "That's what happens when you're close to your players. And that's the hardest thing. Just because you're not there doesn't mean they're still not your guys because they are. You're still friends with them."


Edwards missed those players, but said he is content with his decision to leave for Kansas City.


"I'm happy with my life," he said. "I was happy in New York. Don't try to make something worse when there's nothing to make. You act like I wasn't happy there. I'm a happy guy. Why shouldn't I be happy?"

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