A report by ESPNNewYork.com’s Dan Graziano surfaced last week, noting that the New York Giants are uncertain on whether or not they will exercise their fifth-year option on 2011 first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara.
The topic has been a popular one in recent weeks for many NFL teams, most notably the San Francisco 49ers with talented but troublesome linebacker Aldon Smith. The Giants, obviously, are not an exception to the intrigue regarding this trending topic.
Thanks to the new CBA that was implemented in 2011, NFL teams have until May 3 to exercise that fifth-year option on their first-round picks, as Graziano indicated, meaning the Giants have a little over two weeks to make their decision on Amukamara for the 2015 season.
Regardless of the cost (and Graziano estimates it would be about $7.13 million), the Giants would be wise to extend their developing, young cornerback.
After battling injuries for the first season and a half of his NFL career, Amukamara has quickly grown into one of the better cornerbacks in the league. This past season, he allowed just 64 receptions for 651 yards and two touchdowns. He recorded one interception and defended eight passes to round out with an opponent passer rating of 87.7.
His performance took a step back from 2012, when he was far and away the best cornerback on Big Blue’s roster. Though he isn’t a major playmaker, he ranked among the league’s best cover corners. He allowed completions on just 52.4 percent of passes his way and held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 74.5–which placed him among the top 25 cornerbacks in those categories, per Pro Football Focus (subscription only).
At 24 years of age, Amukamara is only going to get better. Now surrounded by an unbelievably talented group of defensive backs around him, opposing quarterbacks are going to have to challenge Amukamara and if his numbers over the last two seasons are any indication, they will not be having much success.
The Giants cannot afford to lose a player of Amukamara’s caliber in today’s pass-happy NFL. And while the price tag may seem a little steep right now, the former Nebraska Cornhusker could go out and have a huge year for the G-Men that warrants his 2015 salary.
Even so, the exercised option is not 100 percent guaranteed. Should the Giants decide to cut Amukamara–unless due to injury–they can do so. They can also continue to work on a long-term extension prior to the 2015 season that will benefit both sides.
No matter what though, the Giants must commit to exercising the fifth-year option on Amukamara. For the first time in years, they possess a formidable cornerback tandem with Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, with Trumaine McBride, Walter Thurmond and Jayron Hosley figuring to be key contributors against the pass as well.