Longtime Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck and the Giants agreed to terms today on a one-year contract, according to Tom Friend of ESPN. Bulluck, drafted out of Syracuse and a native of New City, New York, can make up to $2.5 million this season. Lots more on this after the jump …
Bulluck worked out for the Giants on Monday and “blew them away” because he looked so good only seven months removed from ACL surgery. The Cardinals also made a late push to sign Bulluck, but the lure of New York and being home again was way too much for Bulluck to pass on.
“If you’re from there or have ever been there, you definitely know [the vibe of the metropolitan area],” Bulluck said. “I’d have to say this is a dream come true.”
I really like this signing for a few reasons. First, without a doubt Bulluck can step up and fill a leadership void that surfaced immediately when Antonio Pierce went down with a season-ending injury last year. Pierce was the heart and soul of the Giants defense, their vocal leader and head of swagger on and off the field, and there was an obvious drop-off in on-field leadership right when Pierce went down. Bulluck provides veteran presence and leadership, and restores that Giants defense swagger a bit.
Second, while Bulluck is just seven months removed from ACL surgery, the Giants were blown away by his workout. Following his injury late last season, Bulluck was allowed to work out at the Titans’ facilities through only February 28, because as of March 1 his contract was up and he no longer was a member of the organization. Which means no team was supervising his recovery for the last four-and-a-half months, making it even more astounding that Bulluck performed outstandingly at a private workout at the Meadowlands, as the Giants staff ran him through linebacker drills in sweltering heat (wearing no knee brace!). The next morning, Bulluck’s knee showed no signs of swelling and GM Jerry Reese offered him a contract – and the starting middle linebacker job. Bulluck visited Arizona Wednesday, mulled over his decision and today made it official that he’s coming home to New York.
Third, Bulluck played weak side ‘backer in Tennessee, where Michael Boley lines up for the G-Men. Bulluck’s experience on the outside makes the Giants much deeper at the position, and their player rotation at all three linebacker positions now becomes a little more dangerous. And if Bulluck really is going to be handed the keys to the middle linebacker spot, all the young guys below him on the depth chart – Jonathon Goff, Chase Blackburn, rookie Phillip Dillard – will get to learn from one of the best in the League. With Bulluck added into the mix now, I don’t think anyone can really scoff at this group and cast them aside. Barring any physical setbacks and setbacks because of egos, this unit has the potential to be one of the better defenses in the NFC.
Bulluck, the face of the Titans franchise for the last decade, is one of the most productive linebackers of the last ten years. He has recorded at least 120 total tackles in seven of the last eight years with Tennessee. His career-high in total and solo tackles came in 2004, when he recorded 204 total and 152 solo. He makes a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage, which is really the best thing you can ask for when defending the run. Also excellent in coverage (19 career interceptions) Bulluck possesses great instincts and range when dropping into zones, and still has the ability to man-up on many of the NFL’s tight ends. Simply put, he’s been as good a playmaker as they come at the linebacker position.