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New York Giants heavily interested in linebackers: 3 potential free agent targets

Defying all odds, the New York Giants went from being a four-win squad to a nine-win team in the first year of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll’s regime. Now, the front office has several key decisions to make on two impact players on offense. The first, revolves around Daniel Jones, and the second would be star running back Saquon Barkley.

Both players have indicated a desire to return to the Big Apple, continuing to build upon their recent momentum. But so far, no deals have been reached. Once the Giants come to a conclusion in contract negotiations with two of their top picks from recent years, they will then look to add more talent via free agency, taking advantage of their roughly $43 million of cap space.

One area of need comes at the linebacker position, where Jaylon Smith, Micah McFadden, and Tae Crowder split most of the duties. Yet, as Matt Lombardo notes, the Giants are reportedly “showing significant interest” in adding a linebacker this offseason. If so, there are several top players set for free agency who could help improve Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s defense in 2023. Here are just a few examples.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023: From 1-400, Derek Carr, Bobby Wagner join growing market

Lavonte David brings a Super Bowl ring to MetLife Stadium

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

While the Giants will be prioritizing getting both Danny Dimes and Barkley under contract, once they know what kind of budget they’re working with, we expect to see some action in the free agency linebacker market too. This could mean a veteran like Lavonte David sees what the Giants are building as an opportunity to join a rising cast of talent.

David became an instant star after being selected with the 58th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He racked up 139 tackles as a rookie. He would go on to top the century mark in tackles in nine of his 11 seasons thus far.

But now that he’s set for free agency, with the Buccaneers’ franchise facing instability at the QB position, David may prefer to land with a team that’s already proven they can reach the playoffs. While David does already have one Super Bowl ring, thanks to his time in Tampa Bay, he could see the chance to join the Giants as a chance that’s often too good to be true. He just turned 33, which means he may not break the bank in free agency, but he can certainly still make an impact.

Related: Bold predictions for 2023 NFL free agency: Destinations for more than 50 top players

Tremaine Edmunds lives up to the New York Giants name

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Football Giants have had their special eras of dominance, most notably in the 1980s and during Eli Manning’s tenure. Since then, we haven’t seen many reasons to be intimidated once they take the field. Last year was the first stepping stone, but now they have a chance to become truly great.

One way to boost both their on-field production while also adding a fearful member of the defense could be to sign fellow New York (Buffalo) star Tremaine Edmunds. He’s a true Giant in the sense that he stands at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. He’s what we call a freak athlete.

The Giants don’t have anyone like that at the linebacker position, and they could look to the draft to address such a need, but even draft picks are like lottery tickets that aren’t guaranteed to pan out. Edmunds, however, is already proven as a two-time Pro Bowl defender.

While he’s tallied north of 100 tackles in each of his five seasons as a pro, Edmunds is coming off a very strong season in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, where he received a stellar grade of 88.1. Plug Edmunds in the starting lineup of the defense, and watch him cause trouble for quarterbacks trying to read the middle of the field.

Related: 7 players New York Giants could and should target in 2023 NFL free agency

Bobby Wagner takes a bite out of the Big Apple

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest name on the linebacker market is six-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is set to be released from the Los Angeles Rams. Wagner is as proven as they come, finishing with north of 100 tackles in all 11 years of his NFL career.

A change from Seattle to Los Angeles, where he was asked to learn a new defense, did nothing to slow the 33-year-old (in June) Los Angeles native down. Wagner still graded as the top linebacker per PFF in 2022, earning extremely high marks as a run defender, while also holding his own when rushing the passer and dropping back in coverage.

If the Giants want a proven, do-it-all linebacker, they should look no further than Wagner himself. Yet, you can imagine there are likely about 20 other teams who have their eyes on the future Hall of Fame linebacker as well.

Related: Why these 3 possible trade options could solve New York Giants’ wide receiver problem

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