Are the Giants and linebacker James Laurinaitis a fit
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Such could be the case for the Giants with the Los Angeles Rams releasing a flurry of veteran players. The Rams cut LB James Laurinaitis, DE Chris Long, and TE Jared Cook on Friday (2/19). Both Laurinaits and Long have proven to be solid defensive players throughout their careers, and could provide help to a Giants defense in desperate need of it.
In what shouldn’t be surprising to most who follow the NFL, money was the major factor behind the Rams’ decision to cut Long and Lauarnaitis, the team’s two longest-tenured players, along with Cook. With the moves, the Rams will save approximately $28 Million in cap space according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
Focusing on Laurinaitis, he is a traditional, old-school middle linebacker and would bring stability and experience to the core of the Giants defense. He’s coming off a strong season where he compiled 107 total tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. Oh, did I mention that Laurinaitis has never missed a game in his career, which began in 2009?
For a defense that has been ravaged by injuries in recent years, especially at the middle linebacker spot, Laurinaitis could fill a huge hole for the NY Giants defense. For some, his age (29) could be an issue, but the middle linebacker position isn’t like running back, where once you turn 30 teams start counting you out. His limited injury history should also provide optimism for his future, having played 99.7% of snaps in his career.
With the Giants’ extensive cap room this offseason, it would be perplexing for Jerry Reese not to bring in the former Ohio State Buckeye. The middle linebacker position doesn’t demand massive salaries in free agency.
Signing Laurinaitis would also allow the Giants to put even more emphasis on drafting a pass rusher with the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft. Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith had been tied to the Giants in some mock drafts, but Smith blew his knee out in this year’s Fiesta Bowl, making him a risky choice. Laurinaitis also wouldn’t preclude the Giants from taking a linebacker later in the draft who they believe could be their middle linebacker of the future. Finding a long-term fix at this position isn’t necessarily something that has to be done in the first round.
Mel Kiper Jr. has the Giants taking OLB/DE Noah Spence out of Eastern Kentucky with their first-round pick. Spence is shooting up draft boards thanks to his explosiveness as an edge rusher. Spence had his share of off-the-field troubles at Ohio State, which led him to being banned by the BIG 10. However, he has kept his nose clean at Eastern Kentucky.
Jasper Brinkley played nicely for the Giants last year at the middle linebacker position, but Lauranaitis would be a clear upgrade for the foreseeable future. Brinkley could also move to the strong-side outside backer and move Kennard and Unga to the weakside.
Steve Spagnuolo drafted Lauranaitis in the second round when he was the head coach of the Rams in 2009. Look for Spags to bring in a familiar face.
by Adam Nardelli | Contributor