The New York Giants Should Take A Long Look At James Laurinaitis
The Los Angeles Rams released three veterans on Thursday in an effort to save a massive amount of cap space. Cutting Chris Long, Jared Cook and James Laurinaitis saved $24.375 million on their 2016 cap, but left three players with plenty of football left in them on the market.
Chris Long is 30, has a storied injury history and just four sacks in the past two years. Cook isn’t exactly a game-changing tight end and isn’t necessarily an upgrade over Larry Donnell. James Laurinaitis however should pique the interest of the New York Giants.
Laurinaitis has his drawbacks, of course, but fills a huge and lasting hole in the Giants defense. The Rams selected Laurinaitis in the second round In 2009 out of Ohio State and started all 112 games he appeared in. He’s had over 100 tackles each of his NFL seasons. According to Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus, Laurinaitis has had positive grades pass coverage every season except 2015.
And then there’s 2015. Laurinaitis’s 109 tackles, while still over 100, were tied for a career-low. PFF had him graded negatively across the board and especially poorly in run coverage. The volume of tackles Laurinaitis amassed are nothing to sneeze at, especially on the Giants where sure tackling was a desperate need in 2015. But he was playing behind Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn, so his numbers may not look so impressive behind the Giants front four.
The Rams cut Laurinaitis without another starting-caliber MLB on the roster, so they obviously saw some decline. But, he should be an upgrade over the Giants’ projected starter Jasper Brinkley. There are younger, faster and pricier middle linebackers scheduled to hit free agency, but Laurinaitis should get a serious look from the Giants.