Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Apr 2006

Giants Sign Lavar Arrington

What's with all these seven-year, $49 million contracts? Obviously, I think at this point anyone who reads this site is sophisticated enough to understand that Arrington will not stay with the Giants for seven years or earn $49 million. But is Arrington a good fit for the Giants' defense? Is his personality a good fit for Tom Coughlin? And how will all these free agent acquisitions (Will Demps, Sam Madison, Brandon Short, R.W. McQuarters, etc.) mesh in New York?

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 22 Apr 2006

22 comments, Last at 24 Apr 2006, 3:55pm by MTR


by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 12:37pm

As a Giants fan, I can't make up my mind as to whether this is good move or a disaster. It comes down to who you believe is responsible for his disappointing performances in Washington over the past few season. On the one hand, there's be no stability in the coaching staff and a lot of friction between Arrington and the front office. On the other hand, the Redskins now have some great coaches, and they wouldn't play Warrick Holdman ahead of Arrington unless they thought Holdman was actually better.

If the contract includes plenty of incentives and makes it feasible for the team to cut him in 2 or 3 years, I'm willing to trust the coaches and management who think they can work with him. It's also nice that the move frees the team up to go for a DT, CB, or LOT early in the draft, rather than being forced to fill their hole at WLB.

by asg (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 12:41pm

I think the biggest worry for the Giants (I'm a Skins fan) is his injury history. That ridiculous BS with the contract his agents didn't read before they signed may have played a role in his lackluster effort lately, but he's still a great talent despite his tendency to freelance.

by James Thrash (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 12:48pm

The best article I've read about Lavar's rise and fall in DC was written by Jason La Canfora of the Post (linked in my name). The most telling comment in it from my point of view was:

"[Gregg] Williams spoke candidly about the need to change the culture and set about deconstructing the star system that the coaches believed had festered under their predecessors. They had no interest in individual glory, only collective achievement, and overhauled the roster with journeymen to create a no-name defense. Only one defender who started for Washington before Williams's arrival remains in that role -- workmanlike end Renaldo Wynn."

I see what happened as a result of perhaps an over-zealous purge of the past by the new DC coaches (certainly a cleansing was needed), a reluctance to fix what wasn't broken by re-inserting Lavar after he came back from injury, and the tensions created by the [insert expletives] Poston brothers. Lavar's a good guy, and I don't think he'll have any problem fitting in in NY (especially with ex-Redskin teamate Pierce). As a Redskins fan I wish him and Pierce only the best, except when they play us of course.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 12:55pm

The drama is over for us Redskin fans. I'm glad he's going to the Giants where we can exploit all of his weaknesses... (bootleg, bootleg, bootleg) although there is the potential he somehow lays a hit on Mark Brunell that ends his career (or Portis).

Arrington is better than Holdman. Holdman was a bum who never did well at the point of attack. Arrington still can blow up plays when he is in the right position. The problem is that sometimes he wasn't where he was supposed to be. Holdman was where he was supposed to be, but most of the time he would get in the way of a play, allowing someone else to make the tackle.

Arrington also had a penchant for speaking to the media at the worst times. Before one of the biggest games last year he got in hot water for talking to the media about his future with the team and personally invited the reporter out to his home. There was definately some friction between the staff and Arrington.

I think from the Redskins perspective they figured:
1) Defense performed well without Arrington.
2) Arrington hasn't recovered from recent injuries... he is still an injury risk.
3)He's not an off the field asset.

I'm hoping the Redskins pick up a WLB with their 2nd round pick in the draft. There should be some good talent there.

by kyle (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:01pm

that's foolish, especially at that price. this draft is so incredibly deep at OLB, they could have filled one of their other needs on defense in round one and still picked up a good young LB in the second or even third round. instead, they've got an overpriced, aging problem player with injury issues. arrington is even more of a question mark than a rookie; if you are going to go after aging players in FA, then you should at least acquire known commodities.

all the new defensive starters in ny smacks of the situation with the viking defense last year. in the preseason, everyone was picking them as a superbowl sleeper because of a 'revived' defense that really wasn't much better than the previous year, statistically. i suspect much the same from the giants D this year.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:24pm

I know from years of Tiki Barber cutbacks that Arrington can be fooled into overpursuit. I'm reluctantly trusting the Giants' staff in that area-- they watch a lot more film than me, and presumably wouldn't take a player unless they thought they could control or compensate for his weaknesses.

Ultimately, I would have been happier if the team had spent the money on a good 1-technique DT and left WLB for the draft. But the good DTs went quickly, so they looked elsewhere. On the cost, I'll wait until I see how much of the $$ is guaranteed, how much is incentive-based, and how much is in the 1st 3 years (my estimation of what he has left) before I conclude that the Giants overpaid.

As for the Giants' other acquisitions, I'm much more optimistic. For one thing, they all came rather cheap, so the risk is low. Madison and Demps are the only 2 other than Arrington who are likely to start. (McQuarters will fight Curtis Deloach for the #3 CB slot; Short is cheap depth at all the LB positioins.) Demps is a significant upgrade over Brent Alexander, and Madison is a CB who can actually catch the ball once in a while (unlike the departed Will Allen).

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:24pm

I think that the seahawks made a better signing in Peterson. He only had a torn achilles which players often recover from whereas Arrington has no knee cartilage and that seems to be a condition that only worsens and leads to arthritis.
Either way, $100 million for two players with a combined 5 sacks in two years is a bit much.

by charles 2.0 (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:27pm

how much money do the giants have under the salary cap? What's the structure of manning's deal over the next few years? Will the giants be screwed if arrington doesn't pan out and they have to take a cap hit.

And the redskins would be better off drafing an o-lineman in the second round, they need some depth.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:42pm

My name has the best Giants cap resource linked. Manning's contract takes a big jump in 2007, but they'll probably renegotiate before then. One thing that puts the Giants in a pretty good situation cap-wise is that the negotiated big extensions for Umenyiora and Shockey during last season, before the huge increase in the cap. The windfalls that free agents have gotten this offseason have made those deals look like great bargains.

As for the potential hit if they cut LaVar, it all depends on how much is guaranteed. It is promising that the original numbers (certainly leaked by the Postons) don't contain any mention of guaranteed funds. If LaVar were getting a big SB, the Postons would surely be bragging about it.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 2:44pm

Correction: Should be "they negotiated big extensions..."

by the K (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 4:03pm

Still, from the "Keep it Simple, Stupid" philosophy of thinking, isn't Arrington automatically an upgrade from the Giants' LB corps of last year, where they were pulling people from the stands wearing their old LT jerseys to fill out the field? If the deal is cap-friendly, the only question in my mind is his health and durability.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 4:15pm

Early reports suggest that the contract is very favorable to the Giants. From ESPN.com:

To get the $7 million-per-year, Arrington and the Giants agreed to load the deal with incentives, ESPN.com's John Clayton reported. Arrington, who will get a $5.25 million signing bonus, will receive a base salary worth around $3.7 million a year. With reachable incentives, Arrington can make $5 million a year and with maximum performance, he can take the deal to $49 million if he completes the seven years of his contract.

That's a much smaller signing bonus than I had anticipated.

by Theo (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 5:40pm

In other news:
LaVar Arrington is hired to play the positions of weak side linebacker, strong side linebacker and middle linebacker.

by Sean (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 5:53pm

instead, they’ve got an overpriced, aging problem player with injury issues.

I believe the description would be "in his prime." You're not aging when you're 27.

by Enoch (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 6:12pm

re: #12

It's probably a split bonus. Since bonus money can only be amortized over 6 years, the only reason to have a 7th year on the contract is if there is a bonus scheduled in year 2.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 7:21pm


Actually, the Giants are pretty well set at Linebacker. Arrington will play WLB. Fellow Redskins refugee Antonio Pierce is a very good MLB. On the strongside, it's up for grabs between Carlos Emmons, Reggie Torbor, and maybe Brandon Short.

You're probably thinking about how they finished last season, when Pierce, Emmons, Torbor, and backup MLB Chase Blackburn were all injured over the course of a couple of weeks. They played the wildcard game v. Carolina with Alonzo Jackson, Kevin Lewis, and Nick Griesen (who basically played with one arm due to a bad stinger). None of those guys are on the team any longer.

by Steve (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 7:35pm

Lavar 'No Knee' Arrington....

Lavar 'No Discipline' Arrington.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 8:12pm

Actually, if there's only $5 million guaranteed then the giants have made a good move.

The Postons are made to look a bit shabby (again) as they advised Lavar to return that $4.4 million. I really hate the way the deal is reported as a $49 million contract when its nowhere near that and the Postons are simply trying to cover up what an awful job they've done.

by Rollo (not verified) :: Sat, 04/22/2006 - 9:36pm

That's a much smaller signing bonus than I thought. If its true Jacksonville offered Lavar an $11 million bonus then he took a pretty significant secured pay cut to come play for the Giants.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 11:55am

Actually, everyone's "aging". In turn it means it's a totally useless term, but you can't deny its accuracy. Not everyone is aged, but everyone is aging.

by Dee (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 12:54pm

Learned through ESPN.com that Arrington's deal really wasn't as much of a risk as I thought - Turns out that half (HALF) of the 49 million over the 7 years can only come through incentives. He has a base of 3.5 million, with another 3.5 aquired through incentives/performance bonuses (5 mill signing bonus). So, if the knee becomes a problem, the Giants don't take that big of a hit. It's a genius move in my opinion. You get the potential of a brilliant linebacker (when he's healthy) with the safety of not having a Kevin Brown like situation.

by MTR (not verified) :: Mon, 04/24/2006 - 3:55pm

As a Giants fan I had mixed feelings about this. But looking at the cap numbers, it seems to be a good contract so I'll vote thumbs up.