Good Move, Bad Move: Johnathan Vilma

The New York Giants are in dire need of help at the linebacker position. With glaring holes along the second level of its defense, will Big Blue roll the dice on signing recently released and former New Orleans linebacker Johnathan Vilma?

Ask any Giants fan which position the team has neglected for too long, and they'll likely tell you about the team's lack of depth at linebacker. While the Giants have spent money and draft picks in recent years on the defensive line and secondary, the middle level of the defense is mostly ignored when it comes to big moves.

Before the team traded for Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason last season, the position was mostly made up of players acquired with low draft picks and budget-priced free agents. One player who could help the Giants out in 2014 without forcing them out of their normal habits is Jonathan Vilma.

The veteran of the Jets and Saints won't cost too much based on the fact that he's about to turn 33 years old and just missed most of the 2013 season due to knee surgery. Like Beason, Vilma's better years are behind him, but he may have enough productivity and leadership left to be useful.

The Giants have made it clear that they view bringing back Beason as a top priority, but that hasn't stopped them from exploring other options. If Beason decides to go elsewhere, Vilma could very well become a target.

That might not be such a great strategy, though. For starters, the Giants weren't that bad on defense in 2013, even with a shallow linebacking corps. The team ranked 10th in the NFL last year in passing yards allowed per game and did even better on a yards-per-attempt basis. The rush defense was 14th in the league with 109 yards allowed per game, but a big part of that was opponents running often on the Giants because Big Blue was constantly trailing.

So what's the upside in adding an aging player who hasn't played 16 games since 2010?

If anything, the Giants should be encouraged by the defense's performance in 2013 and go out to find players with more talent and upside that Beason can offer. Take a chance on former Eagle Stewart Bradley. Use a high draft pick on a player like C.J. Mosely.

Sure, linebacker isn't a strength of the Giants, but it isn't such a big hole that it needs to be filled with desperation. Experience is important, but it's not so important that a roster spot has to be taken up by a player who is unlikely to make it through a full season.

The Giants need to focus on building a strong foundation of young linebackers instead of signing aging players to block them.


The Giants Beat Top Stories