The Giants plugged a need on both sides of the ball Saturday, signing middle linebacker Dan Connor to a one-year contract and agreeing to terms with tight end Brandon Myers.
Connor should help the Giants defend against the run and give them a true middle linebacker for the first time since Jonathan Goff injured his knee in the 2011 preseason. Myers replaces Martellus Bennett, who signed with the Bears earlier in free agency, and gives the Giants a pass-receiving threat from that position.
Myers, 27, was the Raiders' leading receiver last season, catching 79 passes for 806 yards and four touchdowns. That's better production than Bennett gave the Giants in 2012 (55, 626, 5), although the Giants might lose something in blocking. Ironically, Myers was a backup in Oakland behind Kevin Boss in 2011 and replaced him last year. The Giants have not had stability at the position since Boss left before the 2011 season.
It appeared as though the Giants were going to have to rely on second-year player Adrien Robinson to replace Bennett, but with the market for solid players so light and Myers still available, the Giants pounced.
At 6-3 and 256 pounds, Myers is shorter than the recent crop of tight ends Eli Manning has had at his disposal; Boss, Bennett and Jake Ballard were all from the wave of basketball players who transferred their skills to football. But Myers has shown an ability to get open. He set a Raiders record with 14 receptions against the Browns last year and had at least one reception in all 16 games.
Connor played four seasons with the Panthers before signing with the Cowboys in 2012. He played some outside linebacker in Dallas' 3-4 look, but the Giants seem to want him in the middle. That's where he wants to be as well. "I think that's my position," Connor said. "That's the position where I'm comfortable. I played it in college [at Penn State], I was in the middle of a 4-3 in Carolina. So I feel most comfortable in the middle."
Connor, 27, is 6-2 and 241 pounds. He has played in 56 games with 27 starts. His NFL career totals include 222 tackles (129 solo), a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Giants also agreed to terms with free-agent receiver Louis Murphy. Connor is signed, but the Giants will have to do some housekeeping to ink Myers and Murphy and remain below the salary cap.