Will the Giants continue their rent-a-linebacker strategy?
It sure looks that way. Since 2000, the Giants have used free agency to retool the linebacker unit. Back in 2000 when Ernie Accorsi was the Giants GM, he signed MLB Michael Barrow. Prior to joining the Giants Barrow had an impressive resume. Barrow, 6-2, 236, spent the last three seasons with the Carolina Panthers where he started every game and eclipsed the century mark in tackles each season. Last season Barrow recorded a team-leading 131 tackles (88 solo tackles) and 4.0 sacks. In 1998 Barrow collected a career-high 158 stops (112 solo tackles), 4.0 sacks and one interception. He recorded a career-high 8.5 sacks in 1997 with the Panthers, along with 105 tackles (71 solo tackles). When Barrow’s time was up, Accorsi went the free agent route once again. In 2005, Antonio Pierce inked a lucrative contract and became the Giants new middle linebacker. Like Barrow, before becoming a Giant, Pierce posted impressive numbers. When a serious neck injury jeopardized his career, the Giants made a decision to release Pierce. Last season, an unproven Jonathon Goff took over as the starting MLB. Although Goff played decent, the Giants need to upgrade this position. And since they did not draft a linebacker until later rounds, once again, they will find their guy in free agency.
Once again, the Giants will most likely target Barrett Ruud. Rudd, a stalwart on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, is a free agent. Since the Bucs drafted a linebacker in the round three, it appears Ruud’s days are numbered in Tampa. As stated above, there seems to be a pattern with the Giants and free agent middle linebackers. If he is signed by the Giants, Ruud would solidify the middle linebacker position. In his career, he has had two seasons in which he has amassed over 100 tackles. Last year, he had 87 tackles which is 35 more tackles than Goff. More importantly, Ruud can play in coverage. This is Goff’s weakness. As a matter of fact, Fewell had to use safety Deon Grant as a quasi-linebacker in order to offset Goff’s limitations. On this blog, we have chronicled Fewell’s scheme does not match the personnel. However, thus far, based on their recent draft, the Giants are obtaining players who can play a Tampa 2 scheme. (ie Prince Amukamara) Being familiar with the Tampa 2 defense, the acquisition of Ruud would make sense. According to an article written on Bucs Nation, the knock on Ruud is his inability to shed blocks. On the contrary, after crunching the numbers, the Bucs had a weak defensive line which did not keep Ruud clean. Therefore, weak defensive line play attributed to Ruud’s apparent ineffectiveness. Additionally, with the Giants strength being their defensive line, this could only help Ruud prosper in Fewell’s Tampa 2 scheme. He can play three downs, tackle well, and play in coverage. This excellent article written about Ruud by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Steve White makes Ruud a perfect fit for the Giants.