Meggett, the 5-7 dynamo from Towson State, yesterday agreed to terms with the New England Patriots on a five-year contract worth $2 million a season including a $3 million signing bonus. The Giants offered him a $2 million signing bonus and about $1.8 million a season for four years.
It is difficult to blast Giants management for losing the 28-year-old Meggett. They negotiated hard but in the end decided that the Patriots' offer was too much to compete with.
New York's offer was a good one. Unlike the Patriots' signing bonus -- which deferred about $1.5 million over three years -- the Giants' signing bonus was all up front. The Patriots offered more money, but the Giants' offer was still comparable.
Until late Wednesday night, Meggett, who was unavailable for comment, was not opposed to remaining with New York. But when Patriots owner Robert Kraft put up the $3 million signing bonus, Meggett decided to leave.
"We stayed on top of these negotiations," Giants general manager George Young said in a statement.
"We made a fair offer and the player chose to go to New England. He was a fine player for us, well-liked, respected, but this is the climate we live in. David is the first player we negotiated with this off-season. He was a priority and we tried to do the best we could with him and also tried to sign our other players."
The Giants may have made a mistake in not negotiating with Meggett earlier, maybe toward the end of the season or before the official signing period began last month.
Coach Dan Reeves, who seemed to be informed every step of the way during the Meggett negotiations, said in a prepared statement: "I'm extremely disappointed, but I was aware of everything as far as the negotiations were concerned. I thought we had a great offer on the table and had an excellent chance of keeping David. I was surprised when I heard he was going to New England."
But several players close to Meggett said he was nervous about finishing his career under Reeves. Meggett told them he has never forgotten how his good friend, linebacker Pepper Johnson, was cut by Reeves.
Even though that turned out to be a good move, Meggett felt that Reeves has difficulty with veterans and thought in two years Reeves would cut him. Parcells, he told the players, has always kept a core of veterans on his teams.
"He knew the situation with Parcells," said Meggett's agent, Baltimore's Tony Agnone. "Parcells knows how to use him and Parcells is more comfortable with veterans. That was a big factor in David's decision."