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New York Giants Keep or Dump: Keith Rivers

January 18th, 2013 at 4:27 PM
By Paul Tierney

The New York Giants knew what they were getting when they traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for linebacker Keith Rivers last offseason. Rivers was an incredibly athletic specimen with a complete inability to stay healthy, as he had missed the entire 2011 season with a wrist injury. Although the team hoped the former first-round pick out of USC would be able to break out of his shell this year, Rivers saw limited playing time in just 11 games while making 44 tackles.

The Giants did not get what they wanted out of Rivers this season. His presence on the field was inconsistent at best, which made it hard to keep him incorporated into the defensive gameplan. When he was able to play, he seemed lost at times and inhibited the defense's ability to operate at full strength. As Rivers enters free agency, he is hoping that he can sign another short term contract that will allow him to prove his ability.

The question now for the Giants is whether they should further pursue Rivers. Obviously, he was a disappointment last year and he did not develop into the player many thought he would become. However, he has tantalizing potential that has not been harnessed by any of his coaches throughout his four-year career. Perhaps, if his athleticism hasn't translated into production by now, it never will. But is that a chance the Giants can afford to take?

The depth chart at linebacker is thin. With the potential departure of Michael Boley, it's only going to get thinner. Rivers is a young, athletic, versatile player that has all the physical tools to develop into an impact player on the defensive side of the ball. He has yet to demonstrate an ability to stay healthy, but that doesn't mean next season can't be the year he puts it together. After a year in Perry Fewell's scheme, Rivers has the potential to return in 2013 with an advanced knowledge of the defense and all the talent necessary to excel within it.

Furthermore, Rivers can play either the MIKE linebacker position of at the WILL, which would allow the Giants to continue integrating Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger into the rotation. Unless the Giants use an early round draft pick on a promising linebacker prospect, Rivers' presence would not inhibit the team's ability to develop the younger players on the roster. Even if he doesn't play well enough to merit significant playing time, Rivers would still be a valuable asset on special teams. 

There should be room on Big Blue's roster next season for Keith Rivers. He is too athletic to let some other team scoop up and develop him into a productive player. The Giants' linebacker corp. is thin, which makes it worth bringing Rivers back on a cheap, short term contract. Obviously, his injury history his alarming and could preclude him from attaining his true potential. But that is a chance the Giants should be willing to take this offseason. 

If Rivers is resigned, the worst case scenario is that he gets injured again and the team cuts their losses at the end of the season. However, if he plays the way his athleticism should allow him to, then the Giants will have found an impact linebacker capable of guarding some of the most dangerous tight ends in the NFL. That's a valuable commodity, but it remains to be seen if Jerry Reese still thinks Rivers can develop into that kind of player.

Photo Credit: Mike Gannon


Tags: Cincinnati, Cincinnati Bengals, Football, Jacquian Williams, Keith Rivers, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Spencer Paysinger

21 Responses to “New York Giants Keep or Dump: Keith Rivers”

  1.  G-MenFan says:

    I wouldn’t pay him another dime. This guy is a professional thief.

  2.  LAFgoesON says:

    Honestly, health is this guy’s worst attribute. When he was healthy, he was a great OLB fill-in. Athletic, fast and not afraid to hit. It’s just…can he stay healthy? I lean towards dump since I value production and players actually being available to contribute. BUT….Considering he may only be needed for depth, and may come at a cheap price. He represents a low-risk, high reward type of player to me. Ultimately I say keep…but only if the price is right.

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      I don’t see too many teams banging down the door for his services. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think he would be crazy not to take a 1 or 2 year contract from the Giants if they offer it to him.

  3.  BigBlueGiant says:

    dump. Let him be on some other teams inactive list week after week.

  4.  kujo says:

    Emotions like frustration and anger needn’t factor in here. Rivers is wildly untrustworthy, but there’s no reason to suspect that he’ll have any real contract demands. For a veteran minimum, he’s worth a look during camp because of his potential.

  5.  Krow says:

    Keep on the cheap. We need more athleticism.

  6.  G-MenFan says:

    You guys are gluttons for punishment. He’ll look great in camp and as soon as the season starts he’ll pull his seminal vesicle and be out for 4 to 6 weeks.

  7.  kujo says:

    Everyone who’s saying poopooing at taking Te’o at 19 are hilarious. You keep saying “oh the Giants can do better,” and I’m like “when?” When are we gonna do better? Jon Goff, Keith Bulluck, Chase Blackburn, Mark Herzlich, Michael Boley…none of these guys are good enough to be Manti’s fake girlfriend, and yet we’ve seen all of them start multiple games at middle linebacker for the Giants since Pierce’s departure. Are you saying that Te’o can’t be better than these guys? If so, I know of a beautiful Hawaiian sophomore at Stanford whose uncle is a deposed Nigerian prince that would love to go out on a cyber date with you.

    I’m not all in on drafting him at 19, but you are not going to convince me that he wouldn’t be a seismic upgrade over every single linebacker on this team right now.

    •  demo3356 says:

      I thought Te’o was exposed in the national championship game.. Alabama’s Monster OL and redonkulous speed made him look very pedestrian.. Unfortunately for Mr. Catfish the NFL is packed with OL’s like that and speed like that. I see him as a 3rd rd pick come April

      •  kujo says:

        I don’t know that HE was exposed, so much it is clear that he cannot singlehandedly fight off the best offensive linemen when his defensive front his physically manhandled. I’d wager that Ray Lewis, Lawrence Taylor and Dick Butkis would have found themselves lacking against that OL.

        Besides, even if we drafted him in the 3rd, he’d immediately be the second highest draft investment Reese has made at linebacker. I’d still prefer Ogletree from Georgia, but Te’o in the 1st, 2nd or whenever wouldn’t bother me one bit.

  8.  demo3356 says:

    I like Rivers.. Bring him back at vet minimum and have him compete for spot. He has a ton of talent

    •  kujo says:

      But Demo…the team has to be run like a bunch of impatient fanboys. And if you don’t make an immediate impact, you’re a bust, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a legend grow up around you.

  9.  danny4danger says:

    I really like Rivers. I liked him in college, I like him in the interviews, and I like what I’ve seen on the field when he’s healthy.

    As it’s already been said: Low risk, high reward. Experienced starter, who is clean off the field and has tools to take another step on the field. Good locker room guy, and good depth. It makes no sense not to bring him back at a veteran minimum.

  10.  jb322 says:

    Hmmm, Boley at $6 mil or Rivers at $1 mil…… Sorry there wasn’t $5 mil difference on the field last year and its not like Boley has a better upside.

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