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Giants free agents 2015: Keep or cut Mark Herzlich?

Does Herzlich have a future with the Giants?

Mark Herzlich
Mark Herzlich
Al Bello/Getty Images

For three years the New York Giants tried -- and failed to make Mark Herzlich into a middle linebacker. At some point during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons the Giants had turned to the former Boston College star as their middle linebacker. It never really worked as Herzlich was never able to establish himself or hold the job.

In 2014, when Jon Beason suffered a foot injury in OTAs and the Giants knew he would be sidelined for a lengthy period of time the Giants never mentioned Herzlich's name as a potential fill-in. Jameel McClain and rookie Devon Kennard were the only potential replacements head coach Tom Coughlin ever spoke of.

That made it easy to think Herzlich could end up not even making the Giants' 53-man roster in 2014. Not only did Herzlich make the team, but during the season the Giants found out that perhaps they had spent three seasons trying to fit a square peg into a round hole when it came to using Herzlich properly.

With injuries to Beason, Kennard and eventually Jacquian Williams the Giants -- almost in desperation -- turned to Herzlich as an outside linebacker. Lo and behold, playing both the strong and weak side linebacker spots on occasion, Herzlich responded. He ended up starting eight games, played the most defensive snaps of his four-year career (319), and had a career high 52 tackles.

Herzlich, playing on the outside away from the traffic and without the responsibilities of the middle linebacker spot, proved to be an excellent down hill run defender. He had a +11.4 Pro Football Focus score vs. the run. He was, however, a liability in pass coverage. He had a -8.1 score there and an atrocious passer rating against of 158.3. Quarterbacks were 14-of-14 when throwing to whomever Herzlich was trying to cover.

Has Herzlich done enough to justify the Giants bringing him back for the 2015 season?

Valentine's View: Keep Herzlich. He is not a starting NFL linebacker. He is, however, a valuable reserve with experience and with run-defending skills that can make him useful if he is used properly. He is also a willing, valuable member of the Giants coverage teams.

Your thoughts, Giants fans? Should he stay or should he go? Vote in the poll.