Can Jon Beason, ravaged by injuries the past three seasons, regain enough of his once-dominant form to help the New York Giants? Whether or not Beason can pass his physical following Thursday's reported trade from the Carolina Panthers is the first question that has to be answered. If he does so the question becomes simply whether or not the 28-year-old, once considered one of the league's premier linebackers, can still play.
For some thoughts on that I reached out to James Dator, editor of SB Nation's Panthers web site, Cat Scratch Reader. Here are Dator's thoughts on Beason, sent via e-mail:
It's hard to find a player with more intensity or drive than Jon Beason. Those things sound like NFL buzzwords, but the only thing that can hold Beason back is his knee. Following his Achilles tear in 2011 it became apparent he was a changed player. It took time to get his confidence back, but he lost none of the fire he showed on the field.
Beason played good soldier, but was clearly unhappy when he lost his job at middle linebacker to Luke Kuechly. It wasn't due to jealousy nor was his behavior team-damaging, it was out of competitiveness. A microfracture knee injury sidelined him for 2012 and for much of training camp this year, but since his return it's clear he's not the same player.
This is why we're talking late-round compensation instead of an early-round pick. There is still an outside chance he could return to being elite, but it's an outside chance. He's lost a lot of his lateral quickness and doesn't appear able to explode out of his stance the way he did pre-injury, but I'm not ready to count him out yet.
Beason is a man who heard throughout the pre-draft process that he was too small to play MLB in the NFL, and learned to compensate for his smaller size with near-flawless technique. If nothing else he's a perfect locker room presence and the kind of guy who will assist with your entire linebacker group, making them all better by osmosis. Personally, nothing would make me happier than to see Beason return to prominence -- because he deserves it.
I see this as a low-risk flier worth taking by the Giants. If Beason can't pass the physical, then no harm, no foul. He just goes back to the Panthers. If he passes the physical, the Giants bring him in and determine that he will never regain enough mobility to be effective they can simply void his contract at season's end and move on. Again, no harm, no foul.If, however, Beason is healthy enough to make an impact as a run-stopping middle linebacker then the Giants come out as winners. They are reportedly only giving up a conditional late-round pick, so the price is low. Perhaps the reward will be high.
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