The Giants were in need of a safety even before they declined to apply the franchise tag to Landon Collins and watched him sign a mega-deal with the rival Redskins. The need for two safeties took the Giants to a strange and unusual place, as on Tuesday they agreed to terms with Antoine Bethea, an accomplished player who is 34 years old.
Entering his 14th NFL season, Bethea did start all 16 games for the Cardinals in 2018, but he is certainly at an advanced age for a defensive back. He turns 35 in July and played in Arizona in 2017 for James Bettcher, currently the Giants’ defensive coordinator. That season, Bethea had a career-high five interceptions for Bettcher, and no doubt that resonated when it came time to find a stopgap player at a position of need. The Giants signed Bethea to a two-year contract. He is a three-time Pro Bowler.
Bethea can play both strong and free safety, and his durability is impressive. He has appeared in 193 regular-season games and nine times in 13 years played in all 16 games in a season. He went seven consecutive seasons without missing a start. Bethea spent the first eight years of his NFL career with the Colts, spent three years with the 49ers and the past two years with the Cardinals. He was released last week by the Cardinals.
This is not exactly a move to build a defense around. Collins is 25 years old and is a player to build around, but the Giants did not value him as a star safety the way the Redskins did. Bethea will likely compete for a starting job on a Giants defense in need of help in many areas.