New York Giants Must Address Linebacker Situation
The New York Giants released LB Michael Boley early in the offseason because they needed to. Boley wasn’t as effective as he had been in the past for the Giants. The Giants also needed to clear salary cap space, so the move was inevitable when Boley saw less playing time toward the end of the season. That position is more cloudy because LB Chase Blackburn and LB Keith Rivers are free agents.
LB Mathias Kiwanuka might see more time on the defensive line with DE Osi Umenyiora likely gone in free agency. The Giants do not care about re-signing Rivers, but they definitely want to bring back Blackburn, who they let walk after the 2010 season. The Giants re-signed him in the middle of the 2011 season, and his impact was immediately felt.
The Giants still have a lot more work to do to shore up that position. They have a couple of young guys in LB Jacquain Williams and LB Mark Herzlich who can potentially be solid, but the Giants cannot rely on potential after the way their defense performed last season. The linebackers were a big part of that, as they were beaten up against the run.
Embattled Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o is an option for the Giants in the 2013 NFL Draft, depending on where he falls. Te’o was very good for the Fighting Irish in the regular season as they went undefeated, but Te’o was torched by Alabama’s offense in the BCS National Championship Game. It was later revealed the girlfriend he claimed died of cancer wasn’t real, setting off a firestorm of coverage on Te’o.
Te’o is still one of the better linebackers in the draft, so the Giants would be wise to select him if he falls to the second or third round. Jacksonville Jaguars‘ LB Daryl Smith is also an option as he is now a free agent. He’s dealt with injuries this past season, but he’s one of the best available on the market. Let’s see what the Giants will do. More times than not, general manager Jerry Reese has success doing this.