ESPN NFC East blogger Dan Graziano has hopped aboard the 'Brian Urlacher to the New York Giants' train, writing Friday that the former Chicago Bears middle linebacker "makes sense" for the Giants. I do not want a seat on that train.
Before I give you all of the reasons I think the Giants should steer clear of the probable future Hall of Famer, here is Graziano's argument:
" ... in terms of actual sense, Urlacher's only NFC East fit is the Giants. He'd provide a presence in the middle of their mediocre linebacking corps -- certainly offering more than recently signed Dan Connor would. He's a veteran for a veteran locker room. He surely would like to go to a contender, and the Giants always are that. The Giants are the one place in this division where he'd fit. The only question is whether they're interested, and to this point they do not appear to be."
Now, here are my reasons for thinking I wouldn't go anywhere near Urlacher if the decision was up to me.
The Bears' Decision
Urlacher played for Chicago for 13 seasons, went to eight Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro four times. They are the team that knows him best. They have plenty of cap space and yet offered Urlacher only $2 million for one season, an offer an insulted Urlacher called an "ulitmatum."
Basically, that was the Bears' way of saying they really don't think the 35-year-old Urlacher had much left in the tank. I am trusting the opinion of the organization that knows his skills best.
Urlacher vs. Connor
Does Urlacher, at this stage of his career, offer more to the Giants than the 27-year-old Connor? I don't think so, especially not against the run. The constant theme coming from the Giants is they have to be better against the run. In 12 games last season Urlacher graded at -13.6 vs. the run according to Pro Football Focus, a drop of more than 17 points from the +4.1 he scored in 2011.
Discounting 2012, when he was mis-cast in the Dallas Cowboys' 3-4 defense, Connor has proven to be an excellent run defender. With the Carolina Panthers in 2010 and 2011 he scored +8.9 and +3.2 against the run.
Urlacher was still a plus pass defender (+6.7) in 2012, according to PFF, but he no longer appears to be a physical presence against the run on the inside. If you are only playing two linebackers in passing situations, which is pretty much standard now, a middle linebacker who can't stop the run is no help.
Urlacher's pass defense seemed to be questioned by the new Chicago coaching staff despite the positive PFF score, according to a post from SB Nation's Windy City Gridiron.
- Urlacher missed four games with knee injuries last season. Do you really want a fading, injury-risk who will probably not practice on a regular basis as your middle linebacker, the central figure in your defense? How do you build the communication and consistency needed that way?
- The salary cap. Urlacher was insulted by Chicago's $2 million offer. I highly doubt the Giants would offer him even that much.
- The Giants are seemingly trying to get younger, faster and more athletic at linebacker. Urlacher accomplishes none of those things. My guess? It's a lot more likely that Alec Ogletree of Georgia or (gasp!) Manti Te'o of Notre Dame is a Giant than Urlacher.
The reality is I simply don't believe Urlacher makes them any better. That, really, is the bottom line.
Your thoughts, Giants' fans?