USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes, Lindsay H. Jones and Mike Jones break down what they saw at the NFL Combine.
USA TODAY Sports
One of the biggest knocks during Jerry Reese’s decade-long reign as general manager of the New York Giants is that the organization ignored the linebacker position.
Well, the Dave Gettleman era as GM is two months old and the Giants have answered that criticism if Wednesday’s happening is any indication.
The Giants have agreed to acquire linebacker Alec Ogletree from the Los Angeles Rams, bolstering the middle of their defense at a position with plenty of uncertainty.
Big Blue will send its fourth round compensatory pick (135th overall) and its sixth rounder to the Rams for Ogletree and their 2019 seventh rounder, a source confirmed for The Record and NorthJersey.com.
Once the deal goes through, the Giants will have five draft picks (1st, 2nd overall; 2nd, 34th overall; 3rd, 66th overall; 4th, 102nd overall; 5th, 139th overall).
No trade can become official until the league year begins at 4 p.m. on March 14, but trade agreements can be made.
Ogletree was the No. 30 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft by the Rams out of Georgia.
The 26-year-old Ogletree was a two-time captain with the Rams and considered one of their defensive leaders, so it’s a bit curious a Super Bowl contender would part with a key piece to their puzzle. Last October, Ogletree signed a four-year, $42 million contract extension with the Rams that included $21 million guaranteed. He carries a $10 million cap hit for 2018, and the Rams have been active this offseason, needing to move salary around, so Ogletree’s departure could be viewed as a financial move more than anything else.
The only linebackers to start a game last season who are currently under contract with the Giants for 2018: B.J. Goodson and Calvin Munson.
Ogletree has started all 16 games in three of his five years in the NFL and last year started 15 games, registering 95 tackles. He will be an integral part of new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s unit, which is expected to feature far more 3-4 fronts than former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s did.
Ogletree turns 27 in September. The Giants have been criticized in some circles for trading away draft assets for a veteran player, but this isn’t necessarily a deal for the short-term; if it is, then it’s a bad move for the Giants.
They have to believe they just added a key defensive piece for the next four years at a relatively reasonable price. The Giants need someone to lead on the defensive side of the ball – check that, they need someone who wants to lead. Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon have all talked about previously how they prefer to lead by example. Landon Collins is a leader, but he is entering his third season, and his presence in the secondary after three other members were suspended for a game last season (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple) is paramount.
Rodgers-Cromartie will be trying a move to safety where he is expected to compete with Darian Thompson for the starting job alongside Collins. Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur both indicated Jenkins and Apple would be given clean slates. Jenkins is a proven talent just one season removed from a Pro Bowl season, but Apple will have to prove himself in order to earn his way back into the lineup, let alone stick with the team as part of his future. But team brass, at least for now, appears willing to give him that chance.
Ogletree does have a bit of a history with the Giants, most notably with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. A late hit by Ogletree on Beckham well out of bounds during a 2014 game set off a scrum between the Rams and Giants that resulted in ejections not for those two, but former Giants Damontre Moore and Preston Parker, both of whom threw punches in defense of Beckham.
Beckham and Ogletree were both fined for their actions and involvement, and now they’ll be teammates nearly four years later.
Stapleton also writes for The Bergen (N.J.) Record, part of the USA TODAY Network.
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