The New York Giants' search for competent linebacker play will be a point of emphasis throughout the offseason. The critical vulnerability of the Giants’ defense must be rectified as New York looks to build on their solid 2022 season.
Linebacker free agents like Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards and David Long elicit intrigue, but there’s no certainty that the Giants will pique their interest as much as other teams in the market. Moreover, the Giants do need more than just one linebacker this offseason.
Micah McFadden and a recovering Darrian Beavers are the only two inside linebackers who aren’t strictly special teams assets currently on the roster. I don’t know if the Giants would sign two linebackers to $6 million plus average annual value deals, but crazier things have happened.
Age: 26 in the 2023 season
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 232
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 5 seasons
2022 stats: 15 games | Tackles: (110) | Tackles for a loss: (6) | Stops: (466) | Pressures (11) | Sacks: (2.0) | Passes defended: (4) | Reception percentage: (83.6 percent) | Missed tackles (12, 7.3 percent)
The Tennessee Titans drafted Rashaan Evans with the 22nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Evans was a stand-out linebacker for Nick Saban’s vaunted Alabama Crismon Tide; he was a two-time national champion and was a First-Team All-American in 2017.
Evans was never a spectacular athlete at linebacker, but he does have two interceptions and nine passes defended throughout his career. The Titans declined his fifth-year option, making him a free agent last season. Evans signed a one-year, $1.03 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
He had his most productive season in Dean Pees' defense with Atlanta; Evans played for Pees during his first two years in the NFL. In 2022, Evans recorded a season-high 110 tackles, which ranked as the twelfth most in the NFL. His 46 stops ranked 28th in the NFL, and he played a career-high 1,104 snaps on a prove-it deal.
Evans didn’t vault the Falcons' defense into a shut-down unit, but he was a consistent (in terms of availability) force at the second level and played on passing downs. According to Pro Football Focus, Evans had his highest grades across the board since Pees was his coordinator in Tennessee, and he was able to do so with little help around him.
The former first-round pick just turned 26 years old, and it’s feasible that his best football is still ahead of him. He fell out of favor in Tennessee and was able to somewhat rekindle his career with the Falcons.
Adding Evans wouldn’t solidify the Giants’ linebacker corps. He’s not a sure-fire starter with immense athletic upside, but a tough player who's seen a lot of football, with some blitzing upside from his time in Pees’ system. Evans has 55 pressure, six sacks, and 38 career pressures.
He wouldn’t be my first choice at linebacker. There are several other linebacking options who I’d prefer to add, but Evans would likely come at a cheaper rate. He could plausibly be an extra veteran linebacker addition if the Giants want to add multiple players to the position group.
Spotrac.com has Evans’ market value at $4.5 million per year with a two-year contract. That would put Evans at a total of $9.086 million for two years. That’s a bit rich for me, depending on other contracts provided to available linebackers.