It was a busy Wednesday and Thursday for the New York Giants.
The defending Super Bowl champs completed a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals for linebacker Keith Rivers on Thursday. They signed veteran offensive lineman Sean Locklear and former Patriots cornerback Antwaun Molden (as reported by ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss) on Wednesday.
The Giants appear to have made some solid moves.
The Giants only parted with a fifth-round pick for Rivers, who was the ninth overall pick in 2008 out of USC but has been slowed by injuries. In essence, the Giants are basically dealing what is almost like a sixth-round pick since the fifth-rounder is the 32nd pick in that round if that is indeed the trade. The Giants also have two fourth-round picks this year due to a compensatory pick. Not a bad move at all for a former top-10 pick who has yet to show what he can do when completely healthy for a full season.
Rivers played just seven games his rookie season in 2008 due to a broken jaw he suffered on a blindside block by Hines Ward. He missed three games in 2009 due to a calf injury but finished with 72 tackles and a sack. He played in 15 games in 2010 through a plantar fasciitis foot injury and had a career-high 77 tackles and a sack. But he missed all of last season with a wrist injury.
“I’m excited to get a fresh start and brand new beginning,” Rivers said in a Giants press release. “You can’t ask for more than to be playing for the defending world champions and be in New York.”
“I just haven’t been able to stay on the field as much as I would like,” he added. “Hopefully, it’s a new beginning and everything is behind me and I'm ready to do it on the big stage here in New York.”
We'll see what Perry Fewell will do with his newest linebacker. Tom Coughlin made it sound as if Rivers will stay as an outside linebacker. General manager Jerry Reese has mentioned outside linebacker Michael Boley as a possibility at middle linebacker along with Mark Herzlich and Greg Jones. Boley spent much of last season making calls in the huddle and emerging as a leader on the defense after Jonathan Goff was lost for the year with an ACL injury prior to the season opener.
"This is an excellent opportunity for him to have a fresh start,” Coughlin said. “Keith is versatile enough to play the outside on first and second down and he can play on third down because he runs well. And he’s fast enough to rush the passer.”
As for Goff, the Giants said they wanted the unrestricted free agent back well before this trade. But now it appears the Giants will move forward with a group that includes Boley, Rivers, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jacquian Williams, Jones, Herzlich, Clint Sintim (who is coming off a second knee injury) and Spencer Paysinger.
Kiwanuka could potentially play more defensive end now after playing in a hybrid role last season. And the Giants could possibly start Boley, Rivers and Williams or Kiwanuka if they opt to keep Kiwanuka in his hybrid role.
As for Locklear, the former Redskins and Seahawks veteran offensive lineman gives the Giants veteran experience and another body who can play right tackle. Locklear has played in 105 regular season games, starting 82 games. He started 19 games at right tackle during the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl in 2005 and says that is his preferred position. The Giants have an opening there with free agent Kareem McKenzie not expected to return. David Diehl could potentially move over to right tackle and last year's fourth-round pick, James Brewer, also has been mentioned by Reese as a possibility there too.
“I prefer right [tackle],” Locklear said in a team press release. “That’s the position I played the most. I talked to all of the coaches – the offensive line coach [Pat Flaherty], Coach Coughlin. They said, ‘Come and compete, just like everybody else. Nothing is handed to you.’”
The Giants love to have competition at various positions. Locklear could push Diehl and Brewer at right tackle while giving them flexibility and at least another candidate as an extra blocker which the Giants love to utilize.
The Molden addition gives the Giants even more depth in the secondary. Clearly they are trying to beef up that area of the defense, having re-signed cornerbacks Terrell Thomas, Bruce Johnson, Michael Coe, Justin Tryon and safeties Stevie Brown and Chris Horton in free agency so far. Here's the updated free agency list for the Giants.