Seeking a new middle linebacker, it appears that the New York Giants may have found their answer today, signing former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Dan Connor to a one-year contract. Chase Blackburn, who has been the team’s starting middle linebacker for the past two seasons, has been testing the market, and the move decreases the likelihood of a return to the Giants.
Connor, a former third round pick whose career potential has been bogged down by injury, is returning to his more comfortable 4-3 defensive front roots. Many, including Connor, felt he was miscast in the Cowboys’ 3-4 front last season (ironically, they are shifting to a 4-3 this offseason). Connor is not only a fan of the 4-3, however; he is also a fan of the Giants:
Talking to the Giants coaches, the (4-3) system seems to fit me. I wanted to get back into a 4-3 look. It’s a great opportunity. When my agent called me and said they were interested I was so thrilled. This is a class organization with a lot of tradition. They’re a successful team with a winning tradition and it was something I wanted to be a part of. I’m really looking forward to it.
Connor missed most of his rookie season with a torn ACL in 2008. He spent 2009 as a backup, but moved into a starting role the following year, only to miss the second half of the season with a hip injury. Although a shoulder injury in 2011 required offseason surgery, he only missed on game that year.
Last year, he signed a two-year contract with the Cowboys, and ended up starting eight games due to injury, chiefly to inside linebacker Sean Lee. Although most believe that he did a good job filling in, the general consensus is that he is better suited for the 4-3.
Aftering re-signing Keith Rivers and signing Connor, the Giants have alleviated the pressure of focusing on the linebacker position in this draft. unless they move Mathias Kiwanuka permanently back to the defensive line, he will man the strongside outside linebacker spot. Rivers and Jacquian Williams will likely compete for the opposite spot, while Connor will have to hold off nominal competition in Mark Herzlich. It is possible that they add further competition via the draft at one or more of these spots, but the urgency to do so is no longer there.
Like this article? Then please subscribe to this author’s articles about the NFL by clicking the subscribe button next to the author’s name or here to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new article is posted.