Former Giants Starter, Ex-Browns Leading Tackler Abruptly Retires

Ex-Giants LB BJ Goodson retires

Getty Ex-New York Giants linebacker BJ Goodson.

B.J. Goodson has decided to call it quits five-plus years into his professional career — and just eight days after finding a new NFL home. The linebacker, who was signed by the New York Jets on September 14th, has abruptly retired. Goodson was on the field for seven special teams snaps in Gang Green’s 25-6 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 2.

A former fourth-round pick of Gang Green’s MetLife roommates, the New York Giants, Goodson compiled 251 total tackles (168 solo), four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over 67 games (43 starts). Goodson spent the 2020 NFL season as a full-time starter for the Cleveland Browns where he led the team with a career-high 91 tackles to go along with two interceptions.

Miscast as the ‘Next’ Antonio Pierce 

As a rookie in 2016, Goodson played sparingly for the Giants, logging just 13 defensive snaps behind the likes of Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, Kelvin Sheppard and Keenan Robinson. However, by year two, the Clemson product was handed the reins to Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, as he was inserted as the starter at middle linebacker.

Early returns on Goodson were phenomenal. The South Carolina native was being mentored throughout training camp by franchise great Antonio Pierce — who was participating in a coaching internship at the time — and was lauded by many as the potential answer in the middle of Big Blue’s defense.

“[Pierce]’s first task will be to turn 2016 fourth-round draft pick B.J. Goodson into the Giants’ next version of Pierce,” wrote Dan Schneier of 247Sports.

“He’s always dropping advice and knowledge on me,” Goodson said of Pierce via NewsDay. “He drops a lot of knowledge on me.”

Goodson came out with a bang that season, collecting an absurd 18 combined tackles in his first career start in a divisional victory over the Dallas Cowboys. However, things quickly fizzled out from there.

Goodson began to be nagged by injuries, something that plagued him throughout the majority of his three-year Giants tenure. He missed 12 games from 2017-2018 and by 2019 was an afterthought in New York’s linebacker rotation. So much so, that the Giants shipped Goodson to Green Bay in exchange for a seventh-round pick just prior to the start of the regular season.

The Giants Once Chose Goodson Over Blake Martinez

Interestingly enough, Goodson was part of the same draft class as current Giants inside linebacker Blake Martinez, who was originally selected by the Green Bay Packers. The two players were both drafted in the fourth round in 2016. However, it was Goodson who came off the board, as the Giants snagged him with the 109th overall selection, 22 spots ahead of where the Packers took Martinez.

While Goodson put forth a respectable NFL career, specifically after moving on from the Giants, Martinez has clearly been the better selection of the bunch. And while it may have taken New York an extra five years to realize their misfire, they’ve since made good on their draft day mishap — albeit at a far higher price tag (in year two of a three year, $30.75 million deal).

Speaking of Martinez, he and the Giants defense have gotten off to a slow start in 2021. Despite being cast as the strength of the G-Men’s roster, they’ve allowed the seventh-most yards per game (413.5) in football through two weeks.

“I think as competitors, we are hungry to get back out there. Hungry to make the corrections,” Martinez told reporters as the team looks ahead to their Week 3 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. “We looked back at the tape, it was little things here and there. Just winning one on one matchups, just focusing in on the details. If we do that, we’re a really good defense. It’s just making sure we’re consistent.”


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