Mark Herzlich looks on before a game against the Philadelphia...

Mark Herzlich looks on before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Sept. 30, 2012) Credit: AP

The Giants have re-signed a middle linebacker before he was able to hit the market for free agency. It’s just not the one that many expected.

Mark Herzlich agreed to a new contract, ensuring his return for a fourth season with the team. Herzlich was to become a restricted free agent on Tuesday, and while the terms of his deal were not announced, it is believed to be a one-year agreement for less than the $1.431 million he would have received had the Giants put even a right-of-first-refusal tender on him. The Giants placed that tender on fellow restricted free agent linebacker Spencer Paysinger.

Meanwhile, Jon Beason inches closer to unrestricted free agency. The Giants traded a seventh-round pick for Beason last year and he made an immediate impact on their defense. They still hope to re-sign Beason, who is representing himself in contract negotiations. Because of that nuance, Beason is unable to enjoy the three-day window for agents to contact teams regarding pending free agents that begins on Saturday. The Giants are the only team that can negotiate with Beason until free agency opens on Tuesday.

Herzlich has played in 43 games since signing with the Giants as an undrafted free agent. He has 57 tackles (44 solo) on defense and 33 special teams tackles. Last year he led the team with 14 special teams tackles. He has six career starts, including two last season. But if the Giants re-sign Beason, thought to be the priority among their own free agents-to-be, Herzlich will provide veteran depth for the unit off the bench and continue to be a special teams standout.

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