James Bettcher is getting his "money back."
The Giants on Tuesday signed 27-year-old free agent linebacker Deone Bucannon, a former first-round pick of the Cardinals, to help improv a soft middle of their defense. Bucannon played for Bettcher in Arizona in his effective schemes there and was the original “money backer,” a run-and-cover player who is a sleek hybrid of a linebacker and defensive back.
The Giants have struggled to fill that role in the defense coordinator's system this season. They began the year with Tae Davis, but he was ineffective. They moved Alec Ogletree to it alongside rookie Ryan Connelly, but both wound up injured. Ogletree and David Mayo have been the starting linebackers for the past two games. Now, likely, Ogletree will go back to his middle linebacker role with Bucannon beside him.
The Giants were interested in Bucannon this offseason, but he instead signed with the Bucs (and other former Cardinals coaches Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles). He was released by the Bucs earlier this month.
Bucannon, 6-1, 211, was the 27th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He has 7.0 sacks, two interceptions (including one he returned 29 yards for a touchdown in 2015), 12 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in his career.
Bucannon is the latest former Cardinal to join the Giants defense. He joins Markus Golden, Antoine Bethea, Olsen Pierre and Kareem Martin (injured reserve).
Notes & quotes: To make room for Bucannon on the roster, the Giants waived rookie LB Tuzar Skipper. They also signed LB Devante Downs off their practice squad and waived TE Garrett Dickerson. Downs was a seventh-round pick by the Vikings in 2018 and played two games as a special teamer for then earlier this season . . . Pat Shurmur’s son, Kyle Shurmur, was signed to the Chiefs’ active roster as their backup quarterback. The Chiefs needed to add depth at the position while they wait for Patrick Mahomes’ knee injury to heal. Matt Moore will be the Chiefs’ starter. Shurmur is an undrafted rookie from Vanderbilt who was on the Chiefs’ practice squad.