The Los Angeles Rams on Friday cut ties with a trio of big-name veteran players -- defensive end Chris Long, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and tight end Jared Cook. That means it's time to play the "Should the New York Giants Be Interested?" game.
I have already seen the "Reese better be on the phone today" comments in the @bigblueview Twitter timeline. Especially since Laurinaitis and Long played for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo with the Rams. I disagree, vehemently, with the notion that any of these three guys are players the Giants should hurry up and sign. So, let's discuss them individually.
I know, I know. He is a middle linebacker, the Giants need one, and Laurinaitis has been a good one during his seven seasons with the Rams. Sure, he had a combined total of 109 tackles last season and has been above the 100-tackle mark every season of his career. But, look closer.
Laurinaitis is 29, and will turn 30 during the 2016 season. He has been durable, never missing a game. Truthfully, though, injuries have begun to impact him and his production has steadily been declining. His tackle numbers, 109 the past two seasons, are the lowest of his career. His number of solo tackles has declined three straight seasons. He had 117 in 2012, 85 in 2013, 81 in 2014 and only 61 in 2015, by far a career low. In his seven seasons, Laurinaitis has never been named an All-Pro or even been to a Pro Bowl, and he appears to be a player in decline. Honestly, any time a team that has had a player as long as the Rams had Laurinaitis releases that player it should be a red flag. They know him better than anyone.
Laurinaitis, obviously, has a better resume than Jasper Brinkley or Uani 'Unga. In my view, though, the Giants should be in no hurry to go out and throw money at him. He is not a great, defense-changing player. Let the market play out, see if you can do better in the free agent market or in the draft. If you can't, and Laurinaitis is still on the market down the road then perhaps you re-visit the idea of signing him to a short-term deal.
Perhaps Laurinaitis has some good seasons left and of the trio of players released by the Rams, he is probably the most attractive to the Giants. I just don't see this as a "Reese is an idiot if he doesn't sign this guy" situation. If, after a thorough examination of the market and the draft the Giants think Laurinaitis is their best option for a quick-fix, fine. He would bring leadership and a working relationship with Spagnuolo. He would likely be an upgrade, I just don't see him as a must-have player.
I know the Giants need to find a pass rush. But, Long? Really? He's 30, has just four sacks the past two seasons while missing 14 games with injuries, and has been in decline as a player for quite some time. His sack numbers are as follows: 13 in 2011, 11.5 in 2012, 8.5 in 2013, 1 in 2014 (six games), and 3 in 2015 (12 games).
The Giants would be better served by keeping one of the duo of Jason Pierre-Paul or Robert Ayers, giving 2015 third-round pick Owamagbe Odighizuwa a shot and using a Day 1 of Day 2 draft pick to supplement the position.
There was a time when Cook, 28, might have been attractive to the Giants. Now? Not so much, at least in my view. He is a pass-catching tight end who, in my view, the Giants would be better served to allow Will Tye to develop and to supplement Tye's skills with an all-around player who can handle inline blocking duties. Cook isn't that guy. He had 39 receptions, none four touchdowns, in 2015.