Two weeks ago, new Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher delivered a clinic to the front office explaining what type of players he is looking for to run his schemes. On Wednesday, they found one of them.
The Giants agreed to trade two of this year’s draft picks to acquire Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree, a source told Newsday. ESPN first reported the deal.
The trade won’t be official until the start of the league year next week. At that point the Rams will get the Giants’ fourth-round and sixth-round selections in the upcoming draft (the fourth-rounder being a compensatory pick at 135th overall and the sixth at 176) while the Giants get Ogletree and the Rams’ seventh-rounder in the 2019 draft.
Ogletree was a first-round pick for the Rams out of Georgia in 2013 and initially caught the Giants’ eye in that draft class. Now 26, he has been a starter for the Rams since his rookie year. In five seasons he’s totaled 501 tackles, including 135 in 2016.
Ogletree signed a four-year, $42-million extension with the Rams last season. He has four years remaining on that contract with base salaries of $3 million in 2018 (plus a $7-million roster bonus due on March 16), $4 million in 2019, $10 million in 2020 and $9 million in 2021.
Ogletree began his career as an outside linebacker for the Rams but moved to the inside in 2016. Last season the Rams made a transition from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4, just as the Giants are going to do in 2018. Ogletree became a steady presence in the middle of their system with 95 tackles in 15 games. He also broke up 10 passes and returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Giants had not invested much in the linebacker position during Jerry Reese’s tenure as general manager. Reese never selected one in the top two rounds of any draft and signed mostly castoff veterans. The Giants had only two linebackers on their roster heading into the new league year: fourth-round pick B.J. Goodson, entering his third season, and Calvin Munson, an undrafted player entering his second season.
New general manager Dave Gettleman clearly values the position quite differently and showed, in his first big move on the job, that he is willing to spend resources for players he and the coaching staff covet.
Gettleman spoke about the difficulties of finding quality linebackers in the draft when he addressed the media at the Combine last week.
“It’s hard because there are all these bastardized linebackers that do these funky things,” Gettleman said of college players who are hybrid safeties and don’t fit neatly into an NFL defense. “What it comes down to with a linebacker is: Is he instinctive? Can he run? Is he athletic? Is he smart? Is he tough?”
Is Ogletree all those things? The Giants seem to think so.