March 25, 2023

The Giants lost their leading tackler, defensive back and captain to the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.

Safety Julian Love signed a two-year, $12 million deal Friday to play Pete Carroll, a source said, choosing the Pacific Northwest over the Northeast.

“New York, it’s been an unforgettable four years,” the former fourth-round pick wrote on Instagram. “Being a part of this Giants community has been a dream and I am so grateful to everyone who made NY their home.

“To the Mara family, my coaches and all the amazing staff, thank you for everything. You made it a privilege to come to work every day. To my colleagues, thank you for all the good times. Playing with you has been one of the best moments of my life.

“And to the fans, thank you for always bringing that New York energy,” he added. “I will carry this experience with me forever. I love you all always.”

Love, 24, always said two things going into free agency: He wanted to stay a Giant but knew his worth.

While the Giants said they valued Love as a rising part of their program, their financial offers clearly didn’t reflect that in Love’s estimate.

The average annual value of Love’s contract with the Seahawks, in fact, is lower than the Giants’ first offer.

There was a disconnect throughout the Giants’ and Love’s negotiations, starting with the initial proposals that went a long way.

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There was optimism that a depressed security market, with salaries virtually low across the board, would convince Love of a more realistic number.

But when the Giants returned after completing Daniel Jones’ contract and tagging Saquon Barkley, the team and Love were still at an impasse, and once he boarded a plane to Seattle there was no going back.

Losing Love is a shame considering the leadership and workload he took on last season.

When Xavier McKinney broke his hand in Cabo during the bye week, Love took over the plays and kept the ship steady to help the Giants make the playoffs.

His 124 tackles led the Giants by one mile, with linebacker Jaylon Smith (88) in second.

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His interception of Lamar Jackson in Week 6 set up the game-winning touchdown run on the Baltimore Ravens during the club’s 6-1 start.

His limits were finally exposed by the passing attack by the opposing Philadelphia Eagles, which put a limit on what the Giants could reasonably offer.

But this is a loss of leadership and football for Brian Daboll’s team, no doubt about it.

Love’s departure recalls her comments on the Talkin’ Ball with Pat Leonard podcast in early December. He made it clear then that he was going to stand his ground if need be.

“It’s a special place and a special organization, and I believe in what (Joe) Schoen and Daboll are doing,” he said then. “But at the same time I can’t sacrifice… what I think is my value. And that is the challenge.

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“It’s funny,” he said, “because I’ve been in this situation before in terms of leaving Notre Dame. I loved that school. I loved my friends who were there. It was perfect. Everything clicked, everything vibrated, and then the best situation presented itself for me to declare for the draft and I had to do it.

“It broke my heart,” Love added. “But I had to.”