Jasper Brinkley was a player the New York Giants never planned on having last season, but who ended up being a nice veteran addition at middle linebacker, a position of need. Let's look at what Brinkley did for the giants last season and what his role might be in 2016 as we continue to profile the players who will make up the team's 90-man roster when training camp begins.
2015 Season in Review
Needing depth with the fragile Jon Beason once again battling an injury and with undrafted rookie Uani 'Unga as his only backup the Giants signed Brinkley, cut by the Dallas Cowboys, just days before the 2015 season opener against Dallas. Brinkley played only five defensive snaps in the Giants' first seven games, but started the final nine games. He finished fourth on the team in tackles with 66, forced a team-high four fumbles, recovered a fumble and had one sack.
2016 Season Outlook
The Giants re-signed Brinkley, who will be 31 in July, to a one-year contract during the offseason. They are hardly, however, handing him the middle linebacker job. The Giants also signed veteran middle linebackers Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard as free agents, and drafted B.J. Goodson in the fourth round. The 6-foot-1, 255-pound Brinkley is going to have earn not only playing time, but his roster spot as well.
Brinkley isn't a long term answer at middle linebacker. Perhaps that will eventually be Goodson, selected in the fourth round of the draft. He is perhaps part of a temporary fix at that spot. In a competition with Sheppard and Robinson, Brinkley has the advantage of being in his second season in Steve Spagnuolo's defense and already having played alongside Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas.
As of today I would put Brinkley, with 42 career starts in 94 NFL regular-season games, atop the depth chart at middle linebacker. Let's see if he can stay there.