One stud linebacker the New York Giants could target in free agency

david long, new york giants
Nov 27, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans linebacker David Long Jr. (51) breaks up a pass intended for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Trent Taylor (11) during the third quarter at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

If one thing was evident in the New York Giants‘ season-ending loss to the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs, it was their lack of talent at the linebacker position. The Giants struggled to defend against the run all season long, calling upon practice-squad signings and waiver-wire claims to fill out their linebacking corps. This offseason, they will make it a priority to bolster the position. The Giants could target stud linebacker David Long this offseason to upgrade their defense.

Why the Giants should target LB David Long

David Long will be a free agent this offseason after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Tennessee Titans. Long had a career year in the 2022 regular season, totaling 86 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, and two interceptions. The Giants could target Long this offseason as he is set to become a free agent with an affordable projected market value of $4.9 million in average annual salary.

Per PFF, Titans’ David Long ranks as one of the best linebackers in free agency, noting his aggressiveness and youth development:

Long plays a downhill, attacking brand of football that helps him blow up a lot of plays but also makes him particularly susceptible to over-committing on play-action passes and missing tackles when he takes a poor pursuit angle. Nevertheless, he is clearly an ascending young player contributing immensely to Tennessee’s defense that finished first in expected points added per rush allowed on the season.

Long ranked 12th on PFF’s list of top 50 free agents entering this offseason. Acquiring David Long would provide the Giants with an instant upgrade at linebacker. Long’s 89.0 PFF run-defense grade in 2022 ranked fourth at the position, which would provide the Giants with the run-defending that they so desperately need.

David Long also has pass-rushing capabilities, recording a 19.8% pass-rush win rate and 23.8% pressure rate over the past three seasons (second-best marks among off-ball linebackers with at least 100 pass-rush snaps over the span), per PFF. Long could fit perfectly into Wink Martindale’s aggressive, blitz-heavy defensive scheme.

At 26 years old, David Long could be a long-term solution for the Giants at linebacker. 2022 was his first season as a full-time starter at middle linebacker, and it resulted in a breakout campaign that established Long as one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. The New York Giants have money to spend this offseason with the third-most effective salary cap space in the NFL. Acquiring David Long on a long-term contract would be a wise investment for Big Blue as they look to improve their linebacking corps.