Since we started this on Monday with a discussion of the future of running back Ahmad Bradshaw with the New York Giants, let's continue with that line of debate. The Giants have a little more than a month to get under the projected salary cap for 2013, so some difficult roster decisions are going to need to be made.
Over the next few days we will discuss several veteran players under contract for 2013. Today, let's debate the future of linebacker Michael Boley.
Let's acknowledge that the Giants need improved linebacker play in 2013. General manager Jerry Reese has admitted as much, so I have to work off the belief that there will be changes to this group for next season.
The question then is this: Is Boley part of the problem, or is he part of the solution?
Boley, an eight-year veteran, is in the final year of a five-year, $25-million contract. His cap hit for 2013, per Spotrac, is $5.9 million. The Giants could save $4.25 million of that (Boley's base salary for next season) by cutting him.
Boley would seem like a candidate to be cut. His playing time was severely reduced the last few weeks of the season -- 33 of 68 snaps Week 15 vs. the Atlanta Falcons, 21 of 85 snaps vs. the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 and only 18 of 63 snaps vs. the Philadelphia Eagles the final week of the season.
Maybe injuries were to blame for the reduced playing time. Perhaps, however, the Giants have already passed judgment on whether or not they believe Boley is part of their future at linebacker.
Despite the reduced playing time Boley did finish third on the team in total tackles with 92. The 30-year-old would appear to have the coverage skills and speed to play against the spread offenses and versatile tight ends now found throughout the NFL.
There is a question, however, over whether or not Boley is truly an impact player. Is he actually making plays, or just chasing down ball carriers or receivers several yards down the field?
Pro Football Focus would say it's the latter. Boley had a -8.9 grade from PFF in 2012, 41st out of 43 outside linebackers who played at least 25 percent of his team's defensive snaps. Two years ago Boley scored +6.1 and in 2011 he was -0.8.
Boley was an integral part of the Giants' run to the Super Bowl title following the 2011 season. His run defense at the line of scrimmage has always been suspect, however, and with the Giants looking to upgrade at linebacker with an eye on improving their less-than-acceptable run defense best guess is that there is a pretty good chance Boley will not be a Giant next season.
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