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Giants Boost Linebacker Depth, Add Robinson

The Giants dealt with some subpar linebacker play in 2015, even before defensive captain Jon Beason announced his retirement earlier this offseason. Big Blue addressed that need on Monday when they officially signed former Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson.

New York has made a habit of spending big on defensive players this offseason, spending over $200 million on Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Damon Harrison last week. Robinson won’t come at as high of a cost, as his is a one-year deal worth up to $3.5 million.

Robinson was Washington’s fourth-round pick out of Texas in 2012. Early on, it appeared injuries might derail his career, as his rookie season ended prematurely when he tore his right pectoral muscle in the team’s Thanksgiving contest against the Cowboys. The following summer, Robinson tore his left pectoral muscle on the first day of training camp, and missed the entire 2013 season.

Despite nearly two years on the shelf, Robinson was named Washington’s starting middle linebacker ahead of the 2014 season, replacing the retiring veteran London Fletcher. Robinson started 13 games, recording an interception, a forced fumble, 1.5 sacks, and 104 tackles. 14 of those tackles came in a Week 7 contest against the Titans, a performance that earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Robinson’s 2015 season was less impactful, as he played in just 12 games, starting eight. His tackle total dropped to 62 and he had one of the worst defensive grades in the league from Pro Football Focus.

Despite playing both inside and outside linebacker throughout his career, the Giants described Robinson as an interior linebacker when announcing his signing, meaning he could an option to replace Beason in the middle. In fact,’s Jordan Raanan reports Robinson is currently the favorite to start at middle linebacker next season.

After splurging on impact free agents at positions of need, learning that Robinson is penciled in as the Giants’ starter at middle linebacker could be viewed as a little underwhelming. However, we still have the second wave of free agency as well as next month’s draft waiting, where things could certainly change.

While Robinson could indeed end up starting, the Giants also have Uani ‘Unga on the roster, who showed decently in three starts last season. The Giants have also expressed interest in bringing back free agent Jasper Brinkley, who started nine games for New York last year.

The Giants could also look to the draft to find their 2016 starter. The top prospect at the position is probably Alabama’s Reggie Ragland, but he could be a reach with the tenth overall pick. Perhaps they’ll look at Mississippi State’s Beniquez Brown or Arizona’s Scooby Wright.

While he probably won’t be a high draft choice, the Giants have also expressed interest in Rutgers middle linebacker Kaiwan Lewis, who will work out for Big Blue next month.

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