The New York Giants made their first splash in the 2014 NFL free agency pool by signing linebacker O’Brien Schofield away from the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks with a two-year $8 million deal. Largely unknown outside of the NFC West, Schofield’s deal is not likely to immediately turn many heads.
The under-the-radar deal is a sound move on the part of Giants GM Jerry Reese to reinforce the team’s inconsistent pass rush. In 40 professional games, Schofield has collected 11.5 sacks, and will spend the majority of his time with New York chasing the quarterback.
More importantly, Schofield brings an added dimension to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell‘s system. At 6-foot-3, 242 pounds with natural edge-rush ability, Schofield instantly fulfills the LB-DE hybrid role used in 2013 by Mathias Kiwanuka. Up until this point, the likely departure of Kiwanuka left both the position vacant and New York’s pass rush clouded by uncertainty.
Giants fans should be optimistic about Schofield’s signing. With a Super Bowl ring in tow, Schofield should bring a winner’s mentality to New York, a team that at times seemed complacent with a losing record last season. As a pass-rushing outside linebacker, Schofield’s signing does not impact the team’s ongoing contract negotiations with self-represented free agent linebacker Jon Beason.
At just 26 years of age, the newest Giant linebacker infuses the Giants’ front seven with youth.
Reese deserves credit for the deal. The contract terms will not restrict the Giants in future offseasons. But in a result-based city like New York, the Giants’ GM won’t get due acclaim until Schofield takes the field next year and exceeds expectations.