The New York Giants are set to embark on their most important offseason in recent memory. The decisions made by general manager Dave Gettleman this spring will be critical in determining whether Big Blue can continue confidently on their current path, or if they’ll have to press the reset button once again. With that in mind, let’s examine the potential free agents that could propel this team to playoff contention.
The player under consideration today is Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.
David is a nine-year NFL veteran, with one Pro Bowl appearance and one first-team All-Pro selection under his belt. He’s registered at least 100 tackles in eight of his nine seasons, and has missed only seven games due to injury. Pro Football Focus graded him above 80 in each of the last two seasons, and only graded him below 70 twice since his rookie year. The Nebraska product has been one of the most durable, reliable, and productive linebackers of the last decade. Toiling for most of his career on a mediocre team, he’s finally getting some much-deserved attention now that the Buccaneers are Super Bowl-bound.
Big Blue struck gold last free agency with Blake Martinez. The former Green Bay Packer stabilized New York’s linebacker corps, racking up 151 tackles and three sacks. Rookie Tae Crowder wound up filling the second inside linebacker spot in coordinator Patrick Graham’s 3-4 scheme, and pleasantly surprised with decent play given his seventh-round draft status. Ideally, though, Crowder shouldn’t be relied upon as a starter, and is better suited for a depth/rotational role.
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Signing David would give Big Blue arguably the NFL’s best linebacker duo. He would boost the Giants run defense even further, and his coverage ability would complement Martinez’s downhill style perfectly. David would definitely be a round peg in a round hole for this Giants defense. He’d absolutely thrive playing behind New York’s block-eating defensive line.
Spotrac estimates David’s market value at $12.7 million annually, which would put him just behind Jaylon Smith as the tenth-highest paid inside linebacker in football. He will probably be able to command a touch more than that in free agency, but the expectedly suppressed salary cap could force him into a shorter-term deal.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Not really. David is unquestionably a high-end player, but New York already has significant money invested in Martinez. Tying up a large percentage of the salary cap into off-ball linebacker would be a questionable distribution of resources. Big Blue’s safety depth should mean they’ll want to play plenty of nickel defense, which would take a linebacker off the field for a lot of snaps anyways. David’s age, 31, means his best years are probably behind him. The Giants definitely don’t want to pay a premium for declining performance.