Conversations between NFL and media sources reveal that the New York Giants wish to re-sign middle linebacker Jon Beason before free agency officially begins. The team’s exclusive negotiating rights with Beason will dissipate with Tuesday’s official free agency start, and Beason, one of the league’s few self-represented player-agents, will begin fielding competitive offers from other teams at that time.
The Giants are correct in approaching these contract negotiations with haste. Beason’s leadership presence in the second half of 2013 helped orchestrate a defensive turnaround. Losing Beason will devastate the Giants’ linebacker corps and only add another glaring need to the laundry list of positions general manager Jerry Reese needs to address through free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft.
If Beason and the Giants cannot reach a deal by Tuesday, it will highlight a philosophical difference between organization and player-agent with regards to Beason’s contributory value. If such a standoff occurs, the Giants should not overspend on Beason.
Beason is a strong player who makes the Giants’ unit better, but some of the team’s success upon his arrival was largely a result of inferior opposition. Playing against a string of weak NFL teams and reserve quarterbacks exaggerated Beason’s impact on a Giants team that floundered in early-season blowout losses against the NFL elite.
Reese’s defensive formula, a disruptive pass rush and capable defensive backs, doesn’t place substantial value on linebackers. With two Super Bowls in the last six years, Reese has proven the effectiveness of his strategy.
The team currently has no starting cornerback to play opposite Prince Amukamara, and potential free agent defensive end departures raise future concerns for the pass rush.
Devoting too much of the salary cap to Beason will leave the Giants with little room to address these other positions, (not to mention the team’s desperate need for offensive help at running back, tight end, wide receiver and offensive line).
By Tuesday, the situation should play itself out and if Beason and the team cannot come to terms, the Giants should immediately focus elsewhere. With all the work that needs to be done, the team frankly doesn’t have time to dwell on him.