New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster just finished his eighth season with the team. He's been part of two Super Bowl championship squads and has established himself as a mainstay in Big Blue's secondary. However, after having perhaps the worst season of any starting cornerback in the NFL in 2012, the soon to be 31 year old Webster showed serious signs of decline. With that, general manager Jerry Reese is now tasked with finding a replacement for Webster at the No. 1 cornerback position
Obviously, the most logical answer to that dilemma is by handing those responsibilities off to Prince Amukamara. Despite a tumultuous rookie season, Prince rebounded to have a productive 2012 campaign. He was hampered by injuries in the latter stages of the year, but Amukamara's play was perhaps the most consistent aspect of a secondary that was a dumpster fire for most of the season. We can count on Prince to further improve next year. However, there's not much behind him on the cornerback depth chart.
Barring a bounce back season, Webster is a No. 3 corner at this point of his career. Terrell Thomas is coming off the third ACL tear of his career and second in as many seasons, while Jayron Hosley is undersized and has trouble playing outside of the slot. There's not much talent lining the cornerback depth chart heading into the offseason, which begs the question: How is the Giants secondary supposed to improve in 2013?
Improvement is obviously a relative term. If the pass rush had played to its potential this season, then we would probably not even be having this conversation. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's 'bend but don't break" Tampa-Two defense is designed to give up some short passes, but it relies on a consistent pass rush in order to avoid big plays down the field.
When the pass rush was absent on 2012, the secondary was incapable of picking up the slack. However, with the departure of Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck getting another year older, the Giants' vaunted pass rush may be nothing more than average next season. The secondary is going to have to improve, but they will have to improve with less talent around them. That's a precarious situation for a team that will be feeling the pressure to redeem themselves for a tremendously disappointing 2012 campaign.
The team needs Webster to come back and rebound next season. He's clearly no longer the top-dog in the secondary, but he displayed the athleticism to play with some of the NFL's best receivers in 2012. He lacked the ball skills and football IQ to prevent many of the 988 yards he personally allowed through the air, but the Giants don't have any other options in the secondary. The salary cap situation will likely inhibit the team's ability to sign a free agent replacement, while drafting a rookie to replace Webster is a risky proposition.
It's likely that the team retains Corey Webster in 2013 not because he's an ideal player to have in the secondary, but because there is nobody else coming to the rescue. Obviously, it's possible that Terrell Thomas bounces back and Jayron Hosley proves he can start regardless of his size. Either of those options coming to fruition would allow the Giants secondary to stabilize in 2013. Until then, we are going to have to pin our hopes on Webster taking a pay cut and producing more than expected next year. If at 31 years old he really is a shell of his former self, the Giants' defense is going to struggle once again in 2013.
Also…Corey Webster, Football, free agent, Jayron Hosley, Jerry Reese, Justin Tuck, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Osi Umenyiora, Perry Fewell, Prince Amukamara, Terrell Thomas
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