Keith Bulluck, My Thoughts On His Signing With The Giants

Keith Bulluck (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Why do the New York Giants do things like this to me? I go to the Adirondack Mountains for the weekend, purposely avoid the Internet and I come back on Sunday night only to find out that while I was away the Giants signed veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck.

All kidding aside, I have to weigh in on this move by Giants' General Manager Jerry Reese. This is a significant, stealthy move by Reese. It's typical of some of the past free-agent moves made by Reese, an under-the-radar seemingly out of nowhere move that could have a huge impact on the 2010 defense. It reminds me somewhat of the Kawika Mitchell move of 2007, Reese's magical first year as Giants' general manager.

This move tells you everything you need to know about the crop of candidates for the middle linebacker job the Giants had prior to signing the 33-year-old 10-year veteran. It tells you they really don't believe Jonathan Goff, Gerris Wilkinson or even Chase Blackburn is the answer in the middle. It also tells you that they are not ready right now to put their trust in a rookie, fourth-round draft choice Phillip Dillard.

In reporting the signing, the New York Post referred to Bulluck as "the front-runner to move into the starting lineup." Jason La Canfora of NFL.com opined that the team will give Bulluck "every chance to solidify the middle."

Gee, you think?

Let's see. A 10-year veteran and former All Pro who had 108 tackles and three interceptions in 14 games last season vs.

  • A third-year player (Goff) who has four career starts.
  • An injury-plagued fifth-year player (Wilkinson) who has never been able to grab a job and hold it.
  • A career backup (Blackburn) who is a great special teams player and good guy to have around. He's just not a great middle linebacker.
  • A rookie (Dillard) who is still learning his way around.
I know I wrote about the Giants' linebackers a few days ago, taking an optimistic position that the unit is probably not as bad as some think it will be. I also wrote that I thought the Giants could get adequate play out of Goff, Wilkinson or Dillard. And they probably could.

This move, though, gives the Giants a chance to get get more than that from the middle linebacker position, more than just a guy who -- hopefully -- will make the plays a middle linebacker has to make when the ball comes through the middle.

This move also tells you that the Giants are placing a great deal of importance on the 2010 season. They are not sitting around and 'hoping' for better middle linebacker play, hoping a leader steps forward and hoping they can better last season's 8-8 mark. They are trying to win big right now.

As much as this move fits Reese's MO of signing under-the-radar, useful free agents it is a departure for him in another way. Reese does not usually sign this type of player, the veteran player who is near the end of his career and is obviously a "short-term plug" for the Giants. Reese has always preferred younger players with upside to veterans relying on wisdom. In that way, this is more of a Bill Belichick/New England Patriots style move.

We know Bulluck is excited about this new chapter in his career.
"One thing about New York, you can't BS people and I'm not about that," Bulluck said yesterday. "This is what I need for me. I need to be somewhere where there are high expectations, not just from the organization but from the fans. This is another part of my challenge."

Some athletes back away from New York, but Bulluck -- born and raised in Rockland County -- is embracing his return after 10 seasons establishing himself as a fine linebacker for the Titans. On Saturday, he signed a one-year contract that can be worth as much as $2.5 million and understands what he already has accomplished doesn't resonate much in this second chapter of his career.

"I know where I am, New York, so talk is cheap where I'm from," Bulluck said. "The only thing I can do is go out and prove it with my play. I know I have to convince the tri-state area that I am the real deal."

The Keith Bulluck who arrives this Sunday at training camp in Albany is seven months removed from reconstructive surgery (torn ACL) on his left knee. That injury, coupled with his 33 years of age, is often a toxic mix.

Bulluck scoffs at that talk.

"You know what, everybody else is more concerned with my knee than me," he said. "In Tennessee, I always would talk about how I'm a Ferrari so my whole thing is the Ferrari's just been in the garage for a few months getting a tune-up, blew a tire, but still has a lot of tread on it."

Is this a risky move for the Giants? I don't really see it that way. Yes, there are questions about Bulluck's knee and how much he has left. And yes, this is likely a one- or two-year stop-gap for the Giants. So what? If Bulluck is not up the task physically, what have the Giants lost here? Nothing. They are just back to figuring out which of their other middle linebacker candidates can do an adequate job at that spot.

Other Reactions To The Move
  • Over at Music City Miracles, Tennesse Titans' fans are not too happy to see Bulluck changing teams.
  • NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche called the signing a 'fantastic move.'
  • 'Shutdown Corner' wonders if Bulluck can handle the Tampa 2. I get a kick out of this kind of speculation, since indications are the Giants won't be playing a strict Tampa 2 under defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. So, we don't that Bulluck will have to handle it.
  • UltimateNYG applauds the move because it means the Giants are trying to win now.


Keith Bulluck

#53 / Tennessee Titans

6-3

235

Apr 04, 1977

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