Other than Blake Martinez, the New York Giants have not made investments in the inside linebacker position.
However, the Giants made an attempt to sign former Pro Bowl linebacker Kwon Alexander.
According to Alexander, the 27-year-old spoke to the Giants and New Orleans Saints before agreeing on a one-year contract worth $1.12 million with the cross-town rival New York Jets.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh had rave reviews on Alexander, whom he coached during his San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator days.
“Kwon Alexander is in great shape,” Saleh told reporters on August 1. “He’s got great recall of what we did in San Francisco and he’s a quick learner. Very instinctual. He made a play today in practice and made sure the other side of the ball knew about it. Brought everybody to life. He’s ready to roll.”
Alexander was a 2017 Pro Bowl selection with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2019., Alexander signed a four-year deal worth over $54 million to join the 49ers. Unfortunately for Alexander, he sustained serious injuries as he played just 26 games between 2018 and 2020. He dealt with a torn ACL, a torn pectoral and an Achilles tear.
The 27-year-old recently spent the 2021 season with the New Orleans Saints, where he started in 8 out of 12 appearances in 2021. He posted three-and-a-half sacks and seven quarterback hits with 50 total tackles last season.
Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania tweeted out analytics on Alexander. Since 2019, Alexander ranked seventh or better in yards per reception allowed in zone coverage among NFL linebackers. His best ranking was fourth overall in 2020, with a 7.2-yard average.
It appears that Alexander will operate as a backup behind Quincy Williams, according to The Athletic’s Jets beat reporter Zack Rosenblatt.
With his injury history, a one-year deal for Alexander was always in the cards, and he’s on the journey for a bounce-back year with the Jets.
Giants Inside LB Core Remains Issue
The Giants’ linebacker group has its concerns.
We’ve already mentioned Martinez, who combined for 449 tackles and 11 sacks in the last three seasons prior to his ACL injury in 2021. His return will be under a microscope as he’s entering the final year of his contract.
Tae Crowder produced in his sophomore campaign, posting 130 tackles, six passes defended and two interceptions. He was a force in the run defense and coverage game, but he had just one quarterback hit last season.
The rest of the inside linebacker unit consists of unknowns that aren’t likely to make an impact in 2022. Fifth-round rookies Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers will have backup roles for the Giants.
It’s likely that Alexander would’ve been a plug-and-play contributor for the Giants. With new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale taking his talents to New York, the inside linebacker position will be paramount. His defenses have a knack for rushing the passer.
Martindale will look to implement outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who accumulated eight sacks while also adding 13 quarterback hits and 49 total tackles in his 2021 rookie season. You also can’t forget about the fifth overall selection, Kayvon Thibodeaux. Elerson Smith, Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, Quincy Roche, Niko Lalos and rookie Tomon Fox are the team’s depth pieces at outside linebacker.
Nonetheless, Alexander telling the media that the Giants were interested in his services is a sign that the team wants veteran linebacker support.