The New York Giants have made it well known that they want to bring back middle linebacker Jon Beason and have began discussions on a long-term deal to keep him with the team well beyond into the future.
However with that said, Giants general manager Jerry Reese told the media this past week while at the NFL Scouting Combine that he will let Beason test the free agent market along with defensive end Justin Tuck and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, which signals that any deal won't be made before the start of free agency on March 11.
While Reese did say that the roster is going to have a different feel and look to it in 2014, especially after finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs for the second straight season since they won Super Bowl XLVI, the fact of the matter is Beason is a very key free agent and maybe even more so than some of the others that the Giants have like Nicks, Tuck and even Linval Joseph too.
If in fact Reese decides not to sign anyone to a deal before March 11, he is risking losing players to other teams on that date and while he can afford to lose Nicks and maybe even lose Tuck, losing Beason is something their defense simply can not have happen for 2014, especially given how valuable the middle linebacker's presence was once he arrived in New Jersey in early October.
Does anyone remember how the Giants defense played before Beason showed up? Let us remind you, five straight games of allowing 30-plus points and an 0-5 start to the season in which the defense was ranked 31st in the league. To sum that up in so few words: pathetic. The Giants defense was pathetic before Beason got dealt the Friday before Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
When the Giants inserted Beason full-time into the lineup in Week 6 against the Chicago Bears, the team saw the change, especially in the second half of the game when they shut out the Bears and were able to make a game of it. For the first time since Antonio Pierce, the Giants had a true play-making linebacker in the middle who could go sideline to sideline and make plays all over the field, something the Giants sorely lacked for years, and with a healthy Beason, the Giants had one of the better middle linebackers in the sport on their team.
By losing Beason, the Giants risk going back to what they were before Beason's arrival; bad. Sure, Tuck's departure would be sad, but the team also drafted Damontre Moore for a reason, and the same thing with losing Joseph, because they did the same thing with Johnathan Hankins. But there is no sure-fire starter on the team to take Beason's spot if he were to leave in free agency; Mark Herzlich is still there, but the team quickly learned that he was better suited as a backup and for special team duties following Dan Connor landing on season-ending injured reserve in Week 1.
Beason is the key to making this defense what it was; which was at times dominant and showed shades of being elite. Having a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul back and disrupting the quarterback will make it better, as will having Stevie Brown back in the secondary intercepting passes if he returns, but having that play-maker patrolling the middle of the field is what ultimately made the difference last year. The players immediately looked to Beason as a leader from the get-go and they had every reason to.
Ultimately, letting Beason go in free agency would likely be viewed as a very poor decision.
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