What allowed the New York Giants to become one of the most feared franchises in the NFL during the 1980s was the play at linebacker with players like Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, and Leonard Marshall. While the New York Giants linebackers in 2018 might not have a slew of hall of famers there was still some talent at linebacker and critical decisions will be made as to how to upgrade the unit.
The best player at linebacker for the 2018 G-Men is also a player who could be a salary cap casualty in the offseason. Olivier Vernon played in 11 out of 16 games for the G-Men but was the best edge rusher who had 7 sacks in 2018 with 21 QB hits. Vernon is the highest rated linebacker for the G-Men at 86.3 according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) yet with Big Blue going into a potential rebuild mode Vernon is owed 30.5 million over the next two years is a combination that could lead to Vernon playing elsewhere in 2019.
Next up on the intriguing linebackers for the G-Men is BJ Goodson and Lorenzo Carter. Goodson was picked by many to break out in 2017 but injury held Goodson to only 7 games in 2017. 2018 Goodson was healthy and played in 15 games while amassing 61 tackles and appears to be an adequate linebacker. Going into 2019 Goodson will be entering the final year of his rookie contract and a strong performance in 2019 could lead to a lucrative deal for Goodson in 2020.
Carter was the rookie linebacker who became better and better as the season progressed. HIs 2018 stat line was 43 tackles with 4 sacks and Carter only started 2 games in the season. As time goes on and more pieces are added to the Big Blue defense Carter could become that valuable pass rushed who could be an addition to the Giants fabled pass rushers such as Michael Strahan.
One of the more intriguing linebackers for Big Blue was Alec Ogletree who was acquired via a trade from the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason. This is a situation where the stat line does not agree with a players rating. In 13 games with the G-Men Ogletree had 93 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2 defensive touchdowns. Yet, PFF grades Ogletree as 50.7 or for laymen, not good. There is an out in Ogletree’s contract in 2019 so one will have to see if that option is exercised.
Going forward switching to a 3-4 defense anticipate more changes being made to the Giants linebacker crew. Holding the number 6 pick and needing an edge rusher anticipate the G-Men either signing or selecting a pass rusher while keeping Carter and Goodson for the 2019 season.