Gary Brackett, Colts MLB
With new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell implementing a cover-2 base defense with a lot of aggressive twists, there is little doubt that he would like to have a middle linebacker who is familiar with such schemes.
For years under Tony Dungy, Brackett played in a cover-2. Currently, Colts defensive coordinator Larry Coyer has implemented a much more aggressive scheme, and Brackett has played exceptionally well.
In the last five years, the fewest number of tackles Brackett has recorded was 99. He also has multiple interceptions in three separate seasons.
Whatever scheme the Giants implement on defense, having a solid middle linebacker like Brackett is critical—not to mention he is a perfect fit with the Giants' new scheme.
George Wilson, Bills FS
Everyone knows the Giants have a major need at the safety position, even if Kenny Phillips is healthy. Wilson is a solid veteran player who played under Fewell during his tenure in Buffalo.
Secondary players who leave Buffalo have done impeccably well (see Antoine Winfield, Nate Clements, Jabari Greer, etc.). Although Wilson is a restricted free agent, Buffalo may not tender him high, and he may be worth pursuing—even if the Giants need to give up a third-round pick.
Also, Wilson is only 28 and is coming off his best season (103 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks). For anything less than a first- or second-round pick, I would consider investing in Wilson if I were the Giants.
Keith Bullock, Titans OLB
This one is a bit of a stretch, as Bullock is on the wrong side of 30 and coming off knee surgery. On the other hand, anyone who has seen Bullock play would understand why he is an interesting target.
Bullock will almost certainly be on the open market come April, and once again, Bullock will provide veteran leadership at a position of need.
Youth is important to any NFL team, but on the defensive side of the ball, the Giants need youth and veteran presence.
With a new coordinator in town, there will almost certainly be changes in personnel. The middle of the Giants' defense has proven weak, and perhaps Fewell can persuade the Giants' front office to provide him with some new faces to go with his schemes.
Then again, John Mara sounded like he needed no persuasion.
Based on the full examination of available free agents, this is how I would rank them in terms of priorities for the Giants:
1. Karlos Dansby
1a. Gary Brackett
2. George Wilson
3. Darren Sharper
Defensive tackle is a deep position in the draft, and the Giants will look to retain Barry Cofield and improve the status of Chris Canty. This is why I don't rank the tackles in the top three priorities.
Furthermore, I truly hope that Fewell carries out Steve Spagnuolo's vision of having all of Big Blue's best players on the field.
In 2007, Mathias Kiwanuka started at linebacker. He played very well down the stretch this season, and it would be a shame to see him go back to a part-time role in his contract year.
With that in mind, it may be a good idea to move Justin Tuck to defensive tackle while having Osi Umenyiora and Kiwanuka as the ends.
Tuck played most of his snaps at defensive tackle prior to 2008, and in 2007, he recorded 70 tackles and 10 sacks from that position. So I don't want to hear that he can't do it.
The Giants struggled to push the pocket this year, and we all know that a healthy Tuck is the best in the business at doing that.
Let's hope Fewell can put his stamp on Big Blue's defense in a positive way.
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