It took a lot longer than anyone expected, but the Giants believe they’ve finally filled their hole at middle linebacker.
Yesterday, just eight days before training camp begins, the Giants signed veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck. He got a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $2.5 million.
And yes, he is expected to start.
The move had been rumored for weeks, but was still somewhat surprising since the Giants appeared to be committed to youth at that position. In the spring workouts and mini-camps they had been rotating 24-year-old Jonathan Goff, a third-year pro, and 23-year-old rookie Phillip Dillard, a fourth-round draft pick, at the middle linebacker spot.
But they apparently prefer to lean on the leadership of the 33-year-old Bulluck in their efforts to replace the departed Antonio Pierce. Their only concern is the health of his left knee. He tore his ACL last December and missed the final two games of his 10th season with the Tennessee Titans. He worked out for the Giants last Monday and they were obviously satisfied with the results. And Bulluck told the Daily News yesterday that he’s not experiencing any swelling and that his knee “is 90 % and it’s getting better.”
He’s been doing football drills on his own since May and is expected to be on the field when the Giants hold their first practice of the summer next Sunday afternoon at the University at Albany.
If he is healthy, Bulluck certainly will be a stabilizing presence at a key position that was going to be a major question mark for the Giants. And he’ll certainly help bridge the gap until the promising Dillard is ready to step in to a bigger role.
It will be interesting to see how Bulluck fares in the middle since he spent his time in Nashville playing outside linebacker. He was a big-time IDP performer during most of his Tennessee tenure, and if he can prove he's healthy he could rack up a decent number of tackles with the Giants.