Brandon Meriweather hasn't exactly been received with open arms by fans of the New York Giants. Many in the fan base can't get past their distaste for Meriweather's reputation as a cheap shot artist after his multiple violations of the league's helmet-to-helmet hit policy. There is also the small matter of the fact Meriweather has spent most of his eight-year career with two hated rivals, the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins.
There were some positive comments about the move in our post on Sunday detailing the signing. The majority of fans, however, couldn't seem to stomach a player with Meriweather's reputation being a Giant. Or the idea that he must be a terrible player if he was still looking for work before Sunday.
Here are a couple examples of the vitriol spewed after the signing was announced:
There are plenty more like this. I get it. Meriweather is not an easy player to like -- in fact, he's always been an easy player for Giants fans to hate. His reputation for illegal hits is well-founded. There are also questions about just how much Meriweather has left in the tank. He's a two-time Pro Bowler, but his last Pro Bowl was 2010, and the Giants are his third team since his salad days in New England.
So, why did the Giants do this?
Let's start here. Have you seen who the Giants safeties are? Jeromy Miles has three starts in a five-year NFL career -- and those are the only NFL starts made at safety by any current Giant other than Meriweather.
The 31-year-old Meriweather has played in 99 NFL games since the Patriots selected him in the first round in 2007, starting 68 of those.
How often have fans complained about the Giants not having any experienced, veteran safeties on the roster? How many comments have there been wondering why GM Jerry Reese didn't go out and get one? Now, seeing the need and with a roster spot after the season-ending injury to Mykkele Thompson, Reese has FINALLY added a gray beard to the safety group. And now the complaint has shifted to the one Reese chose to sign.
Sure, Meriweather more than likely is not the player he was with the Patriots, though he insists "I know I am." And sure, we can revive the argument that the Giants should have found some common ground and kept Antrel Rolle. That ship has sailed, though, so let's not.
Meriweather is probably more than a "camp body." If the Giants wanted one of those, they would have signed an undrafted rookie who would have been thrilled to spend a couple of weeks in an NFL camp even if he didn't have a clue what was going on or any real chance to make the team. What the Giants really needed was help. With Thompson gone, Landon Collins and Nat Berhe uncertain for the time being, and no one with a proven ability to quarterback or organize the secondary the Giants needed to find someone with the experience and confidence to do just that. Someone the defense could rely on to make the proper calls in a timely fashion. If Meriweather was only a camp body, he wouldn't have been getting reps Sunday in 11-on-11 drills just a couple of hours after signing.
Listen to middle linebacker Jon Beason, who played with Meriweather collegiately at Miami.
"Extremely intelligent player, could be coaching one day. Understands fronts, run fits, coverage, entry angles, how to break on the ball. That's how you get big hits, taking the proper steps and anticipation," Beason said. "He's going to help us tremendously, a veteran, another voice back there, and I think it's going to make our secondary a lot better."
Pro Football Focus will tell you Meriweather isn't very good against the pass. Fans of the Washington Redskins probably agree. He is still a plus run defender, and is also a guy with experience making calls in the secondary and getting his teammates lined up. That is incredibly important, and it's something Meriweather should be able to do while the young players around him learn their craft. Maybe Meriweather can help accelerate the learning process for the youngsters, help get the training wheels off faster.
In short, the Giants needed veteran help at safety. They got it. Maybe Meriweather isn't your first choice, and maybe he wasn't the Giants' first choice, either. The Giants, though, have finally done what fans have wanted them to do for months -- added an established safety.
Be thankful that the Giants recognized the need for some veteran leadership in the back of the defense -- even if it took far too long -- and finally did something about it.
Now, about that offensive line ...