The New York Giants addressed their pass-rushing needs this week, adding veteran linebacker Connor Barwin. He’s a player, his new team says, that can still help even as his production goes down.
Barwin is coming off a couple of down seasons but that didn’t stop the Giants from signing the 31-year-old free agent on Tuesday. On a team that lost Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason in a trade, the Giants needed to find another pass rusher opposite Olivier Vernon. In Barwin, they have one of the best pass rushers over the past decade despite the drop in production the past two years.
That isn’t stopping linebacker Alec Ogletree from saying that Barwin will step in and help this team.
“Yeah, he can still play,” Ogletree said on Wednesday. “He still comes off the edge and does what he needs to do to cause havoc in the backfield.”
Ogletree also said of Barwin that he is “another leader in the locker room, a great teammate.” That is important for a team that went through some devastating off the field issues during a 3-13 season in 2017.
Last year for the Los Angeles Rams, Barwin played in 14 games and had 26 tackles with five sacks, fine numbers but far off from his prime years. In 2014 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Barwin had his best season in the NFL with 64 tackles and 14.5 sacks, both numbers that were career highs.
Ogletree, himself a free agent signing of the Giants this offseason, is hoping to lead a revamped Giants defense that struggled a season ago with injuries and a drop in level from several of their star players. Ogletree steps in as one of the Giants middle linebackers, a key addition to the defense after a season where he had 117 tackles.
“We got an opportunity to be a really great defense. They haven’t been in the top 10 in a minute so it’s definitely my goal is to be in the top five, be the number one defense,” Ogletree said. “If everybody comes in, works hard, and gets on the same page and just do what we need to do every day during practice and go out there on Sundays and prove it we got a good shot at it.”