For anyone old enough to remember the days of Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks, the Giants linebacking corps has been the source of great frustration in recent decades. It has ranged mostly from mediocre to awful, with only occasional interruptions.
It sounds like that may be about to change.
The Giants have made it known they are very serious about upgrading at linebacker, and they're willing to spend (to a point) to do it, multiple NFL sources told SNY on Monday. They had expressed some level of interest in many of the top linebackers on the free agent market -- particularly the inside linebackers. And they were shopping around outside linebackers, too.
It appeared that the inside spot was a priority. They made a run at Nick Kwiatkoski, before he agreed to a three-year, $21 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, according to a source, and had strong interest in Blake Martinez, who played for the Packers last season. They also had expressed an interest in Cory Littleton (Rams), though his expected price may be more than the Giants are willing to pay.
As for outside linebackers, the Giants were definitely interested in Jordan Jenkins, whom the Jets appeared ready to let go, a source said. They have also not ruled out bringing outside linebacker Markus Golden back, either.
And yes, they had expressed interest in Jadeveon Clowney -- the best edge rusher on the market (who could be a defensive end or a linebacker, depending on the scheme). But several sources remained skeptical that the Giants would meet his expected price, which could be as high as $23 million per season. If that price drops, though, they could very much be in play.
The 25-year-old Martinez and the 26-year-old Jenkins seemed far more likely to end up with the Giants, at least at this point. The 6-2, 237-pound Martinez had been a four-year starter with the Packers since they took him in the fourth round out of Stanford in 2016. He could immediately step in as the leader of a young defense, taking over for Alec Ogletree, who was cut last month.
Jenkins, meanwhile, could be the disruptive presence the Giants so desperately need on defense. He had eight sacks for the Jets last season and 15 over the last two years. Still, the Jets appeared willing to let him test free agency. Jenkins appeared likely to get a deal somewhere around $10 million per season, while Martinez likely would come in at a little less.