As we continue our occasional look at potential 2015 free-agent targets for the New York Giants, let's put an interesting name on the table for discussion. Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Mason Foster.
The Giants, of course, already have a middle linebacker in Jon Beason. What happens, though, if the Giants decide they can't trust the oft-injured Beason, who played only four games in 2014, to be the quarterback of the defense in 2015. That seems unlikely, but .... Beason is 30, has had knee, Achilles Tendon, shoulder and foot injuries and has not played a full season since 2010.
The Giants owe Beason more than $13 million for the next two seasons. They could save $3.8 million against the 2015 salary cap if they cut Beason before June 1. Again, highly unlikely, but let's play what if?
Who plays middle linebacker if Beason isn't a Giant? Jameel McClain tried in 2014, but he is a strong-side linebacker out of place in the middle. The middle doesn't seem like the best place to use the pass-rush talents of Devon Kennard. A rookie like Miami's Denzel Perryman?
Foster, who turns 26 next month, would be an intriguing option in this scenario.
The Giants, of course, had a chance at Foster during the 2011 NFL Draft. They chose wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan in the third round that year, 83rd overall. Foster went to the Buccaneers one pick later, and has been a starter since the day he got there.
Leaving Foster on the board and picking Jernigan flabbergasted me at the time, and four years later I still believe GM Jerry Reese made the wrong pick in that instance.
Foster is not a great player. HIs career-high in tackles is 105, which he accomplished in 2012. His 2014 Pro Football Focus grade was -8.2, including -8.6 in run defense. PFF, in fact, has given Foster a negative score for each of his four seasons.
Still, there is this chart below to consider.
|2014 Buccaneers Defense with and without Mason Foster|
|Average points Allowed||Average Total Yards Allowed||Average Pass Yards Allowed||Average Rush Yards Allowed|
Source: Bleacher Report
That, honestly, seems Beason-esque. During Beason's 11 games with the Giants in 2013 he received a -12.0 grade from PFF. The Giants defense, though, was far better with him than without him. After surrendering at least 31 points in their first five games of 2013, the Giants gave up more than 30 points only once after Beason joined the lineup.
Sander Philipse of SB Nation's Buccaneers web site, Bucs Nation, had this to say about Foster:
"Mason Foster is a pretty solid linebacker who won't be a liability in your defense, but who won't really make it better either. He's a good run-and-chase player against the run who has solid instincts for finding the ball carrier, but he's not particularly stout and shouldn't be asked to consistently take on blockers," Philipse said. "He's got good instincts in zone coverage, but is too limited athletically to hold up in man coverage. He can also struggle with dropping to the deep middle in Cover 2 variants. But he's a pretty good blitzer, and you can play some pretty good defense with him in the middle.
"The Bucs are unlikely to re-sign him, though: he's not enough of a difference maker for that. They'll either move Danny Lansanah to middle linebacker, or find a new starter elsewhere."
Your thoughts, Giants fans? If the Giants were to make the surprising decision to move on from Beason would you be interested in Foster as a replacement?