The New York Giants‘ defense has been riddled with injuries recently. The Giants have seen three linebackers miss time with injury, including rookie Ryan Connelly being ruled out for the season with a torn ACL. This has forced the Giants to plug safeties in at linebacker and create liabilities in run defense.
The Giants’ backup linebackers have not been playing particularly well, either. Nate Stupar missed multiple tackles and gave up plenty of yards in coverage against the Vikings. Still, the Giants are 2-3 and do not seem like they are ready to tank and lose games. The Giants plan on competing until the end, so they might want to look to free agency to help fix their linebacker corps before season’s end.
Brandon Marshall, The Veteran Option
The Giants’ defense is lacking a veteran presence in the middle of the field with Alec Ogletree injured. Even when Ogletree is healthy the Giants’ linebacker corps is not all that good. Brandon Marshall is a solid free agent linebacker that could fill the veteran absence and provide consistency for the Giants’ defense.
Brandon Marshall was a surprise cut this offseason after a rough preseason with the Oakland Raiders. Marshall is 30 years old and has not seen any regular season action since the end of the 2018 season. In that 2018 season, Marshall missed 5 games with a knee injury.
Marshall’s limited action in 2018 led to a disappointing total of only 42 tackles. But in 2017, a healthy Brandon Marshall was able to total 106 tackles, 3 sacks, and 4 passes defended. Marshall is now a healthy free agent that is also an efficient tackler, something the Giants desperately need.
Marshall is by no means a risk-free pick. He has dealt with injuries recently and was cut after a disappointing preseason. But he is still better than what the Giants are currently playing with and is worth taking a look at.
Stephone Anthony, The Youthful Option
While Stephone Anthony is not a young player, he is younger than Brandon Marshall. Anthony turned 27 years old last week. Stephone is a former first-round pick, being selected 31st overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.
Coming out of Clemson, Anthony had a great rookie season in New Orleans. He led all rookies in tackles with 112 combined to go along with 1 sack, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles.
Unfortunately, since then, Stephone Anthony’s career has been plagued with injuries. He has bounced around to a few teams and has struggled to stay on the field. He would be a very risky signing, but if the Giants want to take a risk on a former first-round pick, they could sign him for the rest of the season to see if the talent is still there.
Nick Perry and Mason Foster are a couple of other veteran options that the Giants can consider. Perry is more of a pass-rusher than an off-ball linebacker, but he was a great player for the Packers from 2012 to 2018.
Mason Foster was a full-time starter for the Washington Redskins last season and totaled 131 tackles, 4 passes defended, 2 interceptions, and 4 tackles for loss. Foster did struggle in pass defense though and was caught in the middle of the media when he criticized the fan base last season.