The New York Giants have holes and weak spots all over their defense and little money to spend on the free-agent market when the new league year gets underway Tuesday, March 12, at 4 p.m. ET. As a result, they have to be very deliberate about who they decide to invest their limited funds in when free agency gets underway.
While they'll likely need upgrades at cornerback, safety, defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker, there's a clear need to become better at middle linebacker, too.
Chase Blackburn is an unrestricted free agent, but I don't think he's a good enough player to start anyway. Giants fans seem to like Blackburn, but the veteran is too slow and doesn't do anything particularly well. He's an ideal backup, but he doesn't help this defense enough as a three-down player.
Beyond that, there's only the inexperienced and unreliable Mark Herzlich.
Smith is an interesting possible signing because he's flown under the radar of late. Not only does that happen to almost anybody who plays in Jacksonville, but the 30-year-old also missed most of the 2012 campaign due to a groin injury.
He'd be a nice fit in the middle of that 4-3 defense, though, and he has the versatility to play on the strong side or weak side, too. Just one year ago, Pro Football Focus rated him as the second-best 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL.
If Smith is healthy, he could bring some new energy to a defense that needs a boost. The Giants will likely have to get Osi Umenyiora's replacement in the draft, and they could look for another solid, rangy, run-focused linebacker later in that process. Smith could be more than just a stopgap, but he'd be an upgrade over Blackburn regardless.