Giants Cut Antonio Pierce

Let the cuts begin. The Giants today cut veteran middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. On one hand, he is the leader of that defense and was good just one year ago. On the other hand, he missed half the season with neck problems and is 32 years old. He makes a lot more sense at a much lower price, and I have a feeling he'll be a solid addition to some team (Eagles as Stewart Bradley backup?) but for less money than the Giants would have to pay him.

View Full Article


33 comments, Last at 17 Aug 2010, 9:48pm

#1 by C (not verified) // Feb 11, 2010 - 2:23pm

If he isn't the slowest middle linebacker in the NFL, I don't know who is. He's a good guy, smart, hard working, leader, but he's overrated and this is coming from a Giants fan. Who ever signs him, have fun with him in pass coverage...

I know it's hard to call an injured player " most likely to decline" next year, but depending on how you count your FO award, I'd say Pierce is up there.

Something I wrote about in Audibles the last few weeks of the regular season is that Jonathan Goff was down right horrible at MLB. The Giants got run over by Carolina with Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah injured and it was because of poor play by Goff... Not getting off of blocks, bad angles... He played one of the worst MLB games I can remember. I wondered how in the heck Carolina was dominating the run game without their two star Tackles, I went back to the tape and saw a weak performance by the new MLB.

The Giants will either have to bring in a new MLB next year, start Chase Blackburn, or go back to the drawing board with Goff because he doesn't even look like an NFL player nevermind a starter based on those few starts.

Points: 0

#3 by Dean // Feb 11, 2010 - 2:30pm

Jeremiah Trotter is even slower.

Of course, he is more likely to be Team Badassador next year then he is wearing the pads.

Points: 0

#8 by Harris // Feb 11, 2010 - 3:40pm

Actually, if I had to pick one starting LB less athletic than Trotter, it would be Pierce. He's fine between the tackles, but he can't cover a bed with a blanket.

Hail Hydra!

Points: 0

#10 by Dales // Feb 11, 2010 - 4:09pm

I agree.

His personality is such that I can imagine him being a great addition to a coaching staff, or to a broadcast team. However, as sad as it is, I have felt that he was too easily exploited by teams that could test the MLB with the passing game-- as most playoff-caliber offenses could.

I would love for the Giants to address this position early in the draft, because I don't think the answer is on the roster right now.

Points: 0

#14 by C (not verified) // Feb 11, 2010 - 5:33pm

I could see Pierce becoming a good coach or booth guy.

The story goes that Pierce was on the Redskins in the Martyball era, and only ran a 4.8 ( and that was years ago, he's noticeably slower now). Marty pulled Pierce aside, and basically said look kid, if you ever want to make it in this league, you are going to have to work harder than other people...

Pierce took the challenge, spent hours in the film room, and became a "smart" player, good instincts, and many would say he was like a coach on the field. He knew the other teams tendencies, and could call out often "guess" their plays.

The Giants/Redskins game after the late Wellington Mara passed, Pierce knew the Redskins offense in and out, and I believe the Giants won 35-0 largely in part to his knowledge of his opponent.

The coaching staff was loose with him, they trusted his judgement often allowing him to at times call defensive audibles on his own.

I've seen Pierce tail off though, and go from a slow 4.8 linebacker on the Redskins, to a guy that's might very well be in the 5 range. To put that in perspective, BJ Raji the young Packers Fire Hydrant is faster than Pierce.

I love Pierce's attitude, his drive, his mastering of his craft but his pass coverage is terrible. Everything the Eagles fans complain about with Trotter. Putting him 1 on 1 with a tight end like Jason Witten is a death sentence and we lost a game a few years ago because Tim Lewis tried to do just that.

Chase Blackburn could fill in and be an "average" middle linebacker in my opinion, but I'd much rather have him as a special teams Ace and spot starter. If they can get a stud LB Reese will draft him, but the Giants have been stocking up on mid round linebackers for a couple years and they really could use a young stud defensive tackle as well.

I know the loss of Pierce is a big name event and I'm not sure how often Schatz follows the Giants but at this point he's a slow, aging, overrated LB.

Points: 0

#33 by sticks (not verified) // Aug 17, 2010 - 9:48pm

Antonio was no doubt a top linebacker. He knew how to read the offense and was able to change up the front line in a heart beat. My hat comes off to the guy. But on the flip side he struggled at the end of his seasons. He allowed a couple of plays to run right up the gutt. He loss his speed and couldn't make plays. He became frustrated and slower as the season went on. I saw it coming a mile away. I watch every play and he missed a few tackles and couldn't cover the tight end cutting across the middle. It was like any other LB whos time wouldn't allow to go on. I thought he would have been traded but he suffered injuries and no one wants to pay.

Points: 0

#29 by scottyb (not verified) // Feb 12, 2010 - 4:32pm

He should go to a team in which a lot of the young headcases carry guns around in their sweatpants...

Points: 0

#2 by C (not verified) // Feb 11, 2010 - 2:28pm

and if I had to guess where he'd go, it would be the Rams. I'd imagine Spags liked him, Laurinaitis could move to WILL to make plays and Pierce could play MIKE and be a leader .

Points: 0

#4 by Dean // Feb 11, 2010 - 2:32pm

I'd be surprised. The Rams are basically building from scratch. They're not looking for guys in their 30s. They could sure use some help at LB, but I would expect them to look younger.

I can see a team looking for a veteran backup taking a chance on him for short yardage/goal line stuff, but I think his days as a starter are over.

Points: 0

#5 by E // Feb 11, 2010 - 2:52pm

short yardage/goal line stuff is about all he could be useful for. Pierce is such a massive liability in pass defense in the middle of the field that I could easily see him not even getting a job as a backup. It wasn't just last year either. During the 2007 season - despite the defense leading the Giants to the Super Bowl - Pierce was routinely abused in pass coverage. The signature play was his back-to-the QB defense (and pass interference) on the TE in the back of the end zone in the Super Bowl, leading to the Pats first TD. Most Giants fans knew then that Pierce was done as a quality player.

Points: 0

#6 by Dean // Feb 11, 2010 - 2:54pm

Lets all hope the Redskins remember him for what he once was. After all, any time a shiny bauble goes onto the market, Danny-boy has to have him.

Points: 0

#7 by Phil Osopher // Feb 11, 2010 - 3:15pm

7 year, $55 million deal. Cut by 2011, huge cap hit ensues.

Maybe Al davis is by his phone?

Points: 0

#9 by The Other Ben … (not verified) // Feb 11, 2010 - 3:57pm

What is this "cap" you speak of?

Points: 0

#15 by C (not verified) // Feb 11, 2010 - 5:35pm

I know what you are saying Dean, but sometimes coaches want "their guys" that understand the system to come in and help teach it, be around it, help in the film room... and teach these younger guys how to prepare. Pierce would be an excellent teacher, and the younger guys could have purpose and learn under him.

When you are rebuilding, you don't always want an all old team, and when you are a mature team, you want to inject youth as well. You want a balance.

Points: 0

#11 by Mountain Time … // Feb 11, 2010 - 4:19pm

Why does everybody think that Stewart Bradley is a good player? The last I really watched an Eagles game on TiVo, I kept seeing #55 out of position, or getting blocked out of a play, or just sucking in general. So I looked it up to see who #55 was... Stewart Bradley.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

Points: 0

#12 by Dean // Feb 11, 2010 - 4:27pm

I'd be curious as to when this game was.

In 2009, he spent the year on IR.

In 2008, he performed at an all-pro level.

In 2007, he was a rookie who started out like, well, a rookie, but by the end of the season had impressed the coaches enough that he'd become the starting MLB.

I can only guess you watched a 2007 game.

Points: 0

#16 by C (not verified) // Feb 11, 2010 - 5:38pm

Dude, Stewart Bradley is a beast and one of the better young linebackers in the NFC. It sounds like you don't follow the Eagles.

Captcha: Dimwit agree

Points: 0

#19 by Mountain Time … // Feb 11, 2010 - 11:27pm

Both Redskins games in 2008. I don't follow the Eagles any more than the other NFC East teams I like to see lose ;)

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

Points: 0

#13 by commissionerleaf // Feb 11, 2010 - 4:55pm

Pierce gets a lot of guff because he's a big name, but he does a lot of MLB jobs well. He doesn't miss tackles like Brackett and doesn't get totally fooled on plays the way Hillenmeyer does. He's just bad in pass coverage and isn't fast. I could see a 4-3 team with a good pass rush and a hole at MLB starting him; you know, like the 2007 Giants.

If EJ Henderson doesn't come back, Minnesota would be an option, but neck problems will scare a lot of teams away.

Points: 0

#17 by Jovins // Feb 11, 2010 - 6:07pm

Minnesota would be silly to do that. Jaspar Brinkley played adequately in run defense last season, and struggled in pass coverage, which is a similar skillset to Pierce. However, unlike Pierce, Brinkley has the speed to at least potentially be an adequate pass defender as well, and he will get better rather than worse.

Other than name recognition, there's very little reason to bring in an aging player that will at best take time away from a developing rookie.

Points: 0

#20 by Thomas_beardown // Feb 12, 2010 - 12:45am

If your comparing him to Hillenmeyer that is not really a vote of confidence.

Points: 0

#18 by Jon // Feb 11, 2010 - 6:07pm

Pierce should get into coaching (even though he seems to want to get into media). Aaron is wrong here, Pierce is so slow that he doesn't have much to offer a NFL roster at this point. I still have nightmares about last year's divisional game, where Westbrook just gashed him all over the field.

Great player in his day, and one of the headiest I've ever seen, but he's through.

Points: 0

#21 by bingo762 // Feb 12, 2010 - 8:54am

Eagles are gonna go after the Colts MLB. Move Bradley to strong side and Witherspoon to weak.

Points: 0

#22 by Dean // Feb 12, 2010 - 9:08am

You'll forgive my skepticism, but do you have a source for this? I can't say it seems like the sort of move the Eagles would be likely to make.

Points: 0

#26 by bingo762 // Feb 12, 2010 - 12:45pm

Sadly, no. Ray Diddy was talking about it last week. It's the smart move, though.

Points: 0

#30 by Dean // Feb 14, 2010 - 4:32pm

Ray's part of the greek chorus that wants Reid fired - not because he's a bad coach, but because he's a boring interview.

IF they bring in a linebacker - and I agree that there is a need for a "Plan B" in case Bradley doesn't come back 100% - it'll be a draft pick or a guy who is currently a young backup somewhere.

Points: 0

#23 by Rick B. (not verified) // Feb 12, 2010 - 10:25am

The Eagles don't need another MLB, dude. They already have Jeremiah Trotter... and they're getting Stewart Bradley back next year.

Even if they both Bradley to a different position, they're probably going to keep Trotter @ MLB because he's the best linebacker they have.

Points: 0

#24 by Dean // Feb 12, 2010 - 11:53am

Have you SEEN Trotter lately?

The Eagles definitely need a "Plan B" if Bradley doesn't come back 100%. But Trotter proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is no longer capable of being that guy. He was such a liability in pass coverage that he frequently lined up 10 yards deep to try and mask his immobility. Even on running plays - which used to be his forte - he more and more frequently was guessing rather then taking on and defeating his blocker en route to the ballcarrier.

Trotter has a fantastic career, but he has no business continuing to attempt to play. Father Time has caught him.

Really, the 7th LB for the Eagles comes down to Joe Mays (who looks to be a bust), or a player that is not currently on their roster.

Points: 0

#25 by Rick B. (not verified) // Feb 12, 2010 - 12:43pm

I don't know if you've ever watched the Eagles in the past decade, but Trotter is arguably one of the top 10 linebackers in the NFC. Sure he's not the best in coverage; but as you mentioned he more than makes up for it with his ability to stuff the run. He could easily be a starting MLB for the Eagles next season as long as they get a decent cover safety (the one thing they lacked this year). Again, if anything they need to get a SAFETY, not another linebacker.

Points: 0

#27 by bingo762 // Feb 12, 2010 - 12:50pm

Like the other guy said, he's no good against the run anymore. They are flush with cash. Spend on a MLB. Trade McNabb & Vick in the offseason(Arizona, Minnesota, Buffalo?). Package whatever the best pick you get in that trade and your #1 to move up and draft a safety.

Points: 0

#28 by alexbond // Feb 12, 2010 - 1:48pm

Trotter has certainly been an excellent MLB over the last decade, but nobody cares about years ago. Next year is the most important year, and if you haven't seen Trotter's massive decline, you need to check out JoePa's eye doctor. He was terrible last year, and cannot be expected to improve. Both his pass and run skills are declining to the point where his run stopping no longer makes up for the liability in pass coverage.

Points: 0

#31 by Dean // Feb 14, 2010 - 4:34pm

I think your heart is getting in the way of your eyes.

Trot WAS awesome.

Trot IS NOT awesmome anymore.

At this point, he is so far gone that the Eagles would be better off keeping Joe Mays as the 7th LB then keeping Trotter. There was a time when that would be blasphemy, but not anymore. It's sad to say, but the guy simply can't play anymore. I'd be surprised if he's even in camp - in Philadelphia or anywhere else.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Aaron
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and . Use promo code SCHATZ to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Aaron.