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Giants’ roster moves: LB Jasper Brinkley released, QB Josh Johnson signed

Last year’s starting middle linebacker out for a backup quarterback

NFL: Preseason-Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed like a safe bet that when the New York Giants kept eight linebackers on their 53-man roster that it wouldn’t be for long. As it turns out, it was a very safe bet.

Monday morning the Giants announced that they are releasing linebacker Jasper Brinkley in order to sign quarterback Josh Johnson.

Johnson is a seven-year veteran, and career back-up who has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers (twice), Cleveland Browns (twice), Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens.

Johnson was drafted out of the University of San Diego in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the Buccaneers, starting four games for them in 2009. This will mark the first time since 2013 that the Giants are keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Johnson, 6-3 and 215 pounds, is a 30-year-old seven-year NFL veteran who has previously been with eight teams: Tampa Bay, San Francisco (twice), Cleveland, Cincinnati (twice), the Jets, Indianapolis, Buffalo and Baltimore, which released him on Saturday. He has played in 29 games with five starts (all for the Buccaneers; four in 2009 and one in 2011). Johnson’s career totals are 96 completions in 177 attempts (54.2 percent) for 1,042 yards, five touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Johnson last played in an NFL game in 2013, when he played in two games without throwing a pass for the Cincinnati Bengals. He has not thrown a regular-season pass since 2011.

Logan Thomas, the third quarterback during the preseason, was signed to the practice squad Sunday after being released on Saturday.

Brinkley was the Giants’ third-leading tackler last season. He carried a base salary of $1.2 million and a cap hit of $1.8 million. Brinkley played in 15 games with starts in each of the final nine games at middle linebacker, and finished with 66 tackles (48 solo), one sack, five tackles for losses, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Brinkley had been in a battle with free agent Kelvin Sheppard for the starting middle linebacker job. The battle appeared to be even throughout the first three preseason games, tilting in Brinkley's favor when he sat out of the final game along with most of the starting defense.

The Giants seem to have decided to go with the younger Sheppard, who Steve Spagnuolo praised in camp as an energetic and vocal leader.