With the release of Michael Boley, the New York Giants have a void to fill at outside linebacker. Although Spencer Paysinger came on late last season and showed some promise and Jacquian Williams has all the physical attributes to become the productive player, neither have proven a consistent ability to start in the NFL. The Giants needs to bring in depth to man the linebacker position in 2013; however, it's still unclear as to how general manager Jerry Reese will approach the situation. If the Giants can find the cap room, Philip Wheeler from the Oakland Raiders could be a viable solution.
Big Blue biggest need on defense is in the core of the front seven. With Chris Canty's departure and Chase Blackburn's lack of athleticism, the Giants are vulnerable in the middle of their defense. Teams with strong rushing attacks and interior line play will be able to attack the Giants right up with middle with a large degree of success. Those are more pressing needs than at outside linebacker, and Jerry Reese will likely approach them as such. If the right players come along in the draft to fill those needs, the Giants will be in good shape next season. However, it's unlikely the team will be able to solve their issues in the draft.
Free Agency is going to be an important aspect of the Giants offseason, as it's essential that the team signs some productive players for a modest salary. Wheeler could fit the bill.
Last season, Wheeler had 109 tackles and 3 sacks as a member of the Raiders. He made $700,000, which is a salary that fits into the Giants budget. Obviously, he's going to be due a raise, but he's a productive player the team can afford to take a chance on. Although he had spotty production for the first four seasons of his career, Wheeler finally put it all together last seasons and made portrayed himself as a player capable of starting in the NFL next season.
The Giants need for Wheeler is also magnified by the impending departure of Osi Umenyiora. With Mathias Kiwanuka's success as a down linemen in 2012, we could see him play in that role more in 2013. In order for that to happen, the Giants need a solution at the strong-side linebacker position. Wheeler does not have the size of Kiwanuka; however, he has great instincts and takes great angles to the football. If the Giants use Kiwanuka as a down linemen in pass rushing situations, Wheeler would be a great fit as a speedy linebacker capable of covering opponent down the field.
Philip Wheeler is not a game changing football player. However, that's not the kind of player the Giants will be able to afford on the free-agent market in 2013. Wheeler is a player who plays well against the run, is adequate against the pass and fills a needs on Big Blue's defense. He'll also likely sign at a manageable salary. There are several options out there that the Giants will explore to fill voids on the defensive side of the football, but Wheeler should be given a hard look from Jerry Reese.
Also…Chase Blackburn, Chris Canty, Football, Jerry Reese, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Osi Umenyiora, Spencer Paysinger