General manager Ryan Grigson and owner Jim Irsay are at it again. Several months ago the Indianapolis Colts traded the equivalent of gold in the NFL, a first-round pick, for Trent Richardson—he went on to average just 3.0 yards-per-carry. Now, they’re at it again—the Colts agreed to a four-year, $22 million contract with $11 million guaranteed with D’Qwell Jackson. How does this hurt the New York Giants and their chances of re-signing Jon Beason? Because Jackson and Beason play the same position, the Colts set the market and offered Beason’s agent leverage that he did not already have.
Initial reaction seems to be heavily favored towards the belief that the Colts overpaid for Jackson. Jackson is now 31, and his best seasons came several years ago when he played in a 4-3 scheme. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson has graded out very poorly over the past two seasons. In fact in 2013 he graded out as their 42nd-best inside linebacker and in 2013 he graded out as the 41st-best.
Beason, who is also two years younger, can make a legitimate case that he is a better player than Jackson right now. Beason’s injury history plays some role in keeping his price tag down, but he has grounds now to ask for around $5 million annually or more.
The Giants are an estimated $19 million under the salary cap as of today. They will likely clear a few million more when Chris Snee agrees to take a pay cut to stay with the team. However, with more pressing needs at both guard spots, center and cornerback, there is no guarantee that the team can afford to budget $5 million annually for a linebacker.
When you factor in Beason’s injury history, it makes things even murkier. Beason has missed 31 games over the last four years. Although he showed signs of recovery in 2013, he has also had micro fracture surgery on his knee in 2011. Some players can recover from this surgery, but for others like former Giants safety Kenny Phillips, it will catch up to you and derail your career.
The Giants simply don’t have the cap space to sign two or three new offensive linemen, a cornerback and Beason. So the question is simple—in what order should the Giants prioritize those positions in free agency?