Written By: Mike Ulatoski

It took longer than they had hoped, but in the end the Giants got their man.

For the second straight year, the Giants made a big, opening-weekend splash in the NFL’s free-agent pool, this time by signing Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle. Despite hinting they wouldn’t be big spenders this offseason, the Giants made him the highest paid safety in NFL history.

The 27-year-old Rolle, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, signed a five-year, $37 million contract tonight after a day-long visit with Giants officials. The Giants won a bidding war over Rolle’s former team and the Miami Dolphins, who a day earlier offered him a five-year deal believed to be worth $7 million per year. Rolle’s deal with the Giants’ averages $7.4 million per season, but more importantly includes $15 million in guaranteed money.

Spending like this didn’t appear to be in the plans for the Giants this year, especially after spending $84 million in contracts on defensive players last offseason, only to see the defense collapse. Their plans apparently changed when Rolle was released by Arizona so they could avoid paying him a $4 million bonus he was due next week.

The Cardinals still wanted Rolle back, though, and it’s believed they made a late run at re-signing him right after they lost linebacker Karlos Dansby, who earlier signed a five-year, $43 million contract with Miami. One report said the Cardinals matched the Giants’ offer, but Rolle chose New York anyway.

The Giants, by the way, have now spent $121 million in contracts on five defensive players in the last 13 months.

Rolle, who had four interceptions last season – including one against the Giants – will give the Giants another big-play safety to possibly play alongside Kenny Phillips. Phillips is recovering from surgery on his left knee and suffers from patella femoral arthritis. Though he says his recovery is ahead of schedule, his status for next season is unclear. If he’s healthy moving forward, the Giants could have the best young safety tandem in the league for years to come.

Rolle almost certainly will be the Giants’ lone big free-agent signing this offfseason. Several NFL sources have said the Giants have made no serious moves towards pursuing any of the top inside linebackers available, even though middle linebacker is their biggest need.

With reports that they are not pursuing any inside ‘backers, the Giants may look to the Draft to fill their biggest need. Rolando McClain would be the perfect fit for this Giants defense. The highest-ranked inside linebacker in this year’s draft, McClain would provide depth to a depleted linebacker corps and immediately make a huge impact. With Dansby in now Miami, the Giants will more than likely see McClain fall to them at pick 15 in Round One.