Okay, I get it. Pick up a defensive tackle in free agency, draft for safety and middle linebacker.
I hear ya. And it's not that bad an idea. And it's a good bet that one of the three positions of the middle defense will be addressed by a veteran.
So who's available at defensive tackle? In our continuing shopping cart series, here's an idea of the selection Jerry Reese might be looking at once the free agent smorgasbord begins March 5. You needn't look further than the next few paragraphs.
You might also want to keep in mind that the Giants will probably tender defensive tackle starter Barry Cofield, who will be a restricted free agent unless a new CBA is reached. But there's a good chance unrestricted DT Fred Robbins will be let loose in free agency.
CASEY HAMPTON: This 32-year-old Steeler is one of the best defensive tackles in the league. He plays a true nose tackle in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense, which would probably translate to the end of Barry Cofield as a starter in the Giants' 4-3. The Giants would have to go hard for him, since the Steelers have made him a re-signing priority. His 43 tackles helped the Steelers become one of the best run defenses in the league, and his 2 1/2 tackles shows he can pressure the passer. Might look nice next to Chris Canty.
RYAN PICKETT: The 30-year-old Packer helped transform Green Bay into a solid run-stopping defense. Almost all his snaps came at nose tackle on running downs and he proved a virtually impenetrable roadblock up the middle, where he made 47 tackles and batted one pass. At 340 pounds, he's strictly a first and second-down guy, though, as he barely pressures the passer.
AUBRAYO FRANKLIN: The 30-year-old 49er jumped into the elite class of nose tackles this year. The 49ers want him back badly enough that they plan to franchise him if they can't work out a long-term deal this week. He does almost nothing against the pass, but with Patrick Willis commanding the middle linebacking duties, he doesn't have to.
VINCE WOLFORK: The Patriots' defensive tackle is considered an elite product, and at 28 he should have plenty of gas left in the tank. He'd be a difficult get, however, since the Pats seem intent on keeping him around, whether it be through his preferred long-term extension or by franchise tag. We'll know by Feb. 25, the deadline for applying franchise and transition tags, whether anybody will have an outside shot at him. The Pats aren't beneath doing that, either. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, they've whacked around five players with the franchise hammer, so don't count on getting him.
TONY BROWN: You can always use a pass rusher, and with Robbins possibly on the way out, this 29-year-old Titan would be a great choice. He'll be restricted, absent a CBA, but he might be the one DT worth giving up a draft picks in compensation. He's one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the league with five sacks and a league-high total of hits on the quarterback. And his 38 tackles indicate he's good enough against the run. Gonna be hard to pry away from Tennessee, however.
KENDRICK CLANCY: He's 32. He's got a Super Bowl ring with New Orleans. Problem is, he was hurt for all but two games in the regular season before going on IR with a knee injury. And he had lost his starting job even before the injury to Remi Ayodele. Still, he might be worth a flyer as an inexpensive pickup for someone who is stout in the middle.
TRAVIS JOHNSON: At 28, the Charger is still developing. He'd be restricted, too, unless a CBA agreement is reached. He had 16 tackles this year.
Your Tuesday Cheat Sheet 3-11-14
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