- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New York Giants appear to have addressed their need at linebacker by trading their fifth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for former first-round pick Keith Rivers. There are multiple reports that say the deal is done, though the Giants have yet to announce it. And Rivers himself sent out a tweet that quoted "Theme from New York, New York," though he attributed the quote to "Frank Santria."
Regardless of his knowledge of New York/New Jersey-based music legends, Rivers is a nice pickup for the Giants for the price. He was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2008 draft and a productive player for Cincinnati early in his career. He was available for such a low price (the 167th overall pick in this year's draft) because the Bengals don't have room for him in their starting lineup anymore and because he missed the 2011 season with a wrist injury. Health has been an issue for Rivers, but if he can stay healthy he's an upgrade at a position where the Giants were planning to lean heavily on second-year players.
With Dave Tollefson having signed with the Raiders, the Giants may need Mathias Kiwanuka to play more defensive end in 2012. And there has been talk of moving Michael Boley to middle linebacker, though the team has not yet decided how it will align all of its linebackers at this point. One thing this move does seem to ensure is that the Giants will not be bringing back free agent linebacker Jonathan Goff, who has drawn interest from the Dolphins and Browns.
The Giants did announce the signing of offensive lineman Sean Locklear, an eight-year veteran who started four games for the Washington Redskins in 2011. Locklear can play guard or tackle, but the Giants' greater need is at tackle, which Locklear said in the team's official press release is his preferred position. In fact, he said right tackle is his favorite, and the Giants currently do not have a starter there as Kareem McKenzie is a free agent. They could fill that position in the draft or by moving David Diehl there, but at this point Locklear is in the mix as a backup at both tackle positions and, if he performs well enough in the preseason, possibly a candidate for the right tackle job.
So yeah, busy day for the champs, who aren't likely to do much more before the draft. Rivers is scheduled to earn $2.16 million in 2012, and the Giants only had about $3.4 million in salary cap space left when we checked in on that last week.