Why move for Alec Ogletree can be viewed as a 'great trade' for Giants

The New York Giants have acquired a linebacker. It was a necessary and costly move to get Alec Ogletree on their roster.

Without Ogletree, the Giants had one true starting-caliber linebacker under contract. That was B.J. Goodson, who struggled with injuries this past season in his first year as a starter.

There was a need. A major need, especially with the Giants set to run a defense with plenty of 3-4 fronts under new coordinator James Bettcher. In that kind of defense, they needed linebackers, especially ones with speed.

Ogletree is just that. He was a playmaking linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams. He's expected to slide in the middle alongside Goodson to give the Giants a linebacker who can run and make plays. It's an intriguing combination: Goodson the physical thumper and Ogletree the athletic playmaker.

For now, Ogletree brings needed athleticism, speed and youth to the linebacking corps. It was a move that makes them better.

"That was a great trade," an NFC scout who is familiar with Ogletree said.

Ogletree is a weapon well suited for Bettcher's blitz-happy defense. The scout noted that his pass-rushing ability might be his best skill -- he has 5.5 career sacks.

Ogletree has been a playmaker for the Rams, with 12 forced fumbles and six interceptions in five seasons since being selected in the first round of the 2013 draft. He had 10 passes defended this past season, tied for second among all linebackers. He's had at least 10 passes defended in three of the past four seasons.

This should help the Giants' defense, which had six sacks and three forced fumbles from their linebackers in 2017. They struggled badly to cover tight ends, allowing a league-high 12 touchdowns to tight ends.

Ogletree, 26, should help in all these areas. He should also help fill the leadership void that existed last season with the defense.

After finishing 2016 near the top of the league in most defensive categories, the Giants crumbled last year. They had three cornerbacks suspended for various violations of team rules and finished 31st in total defense.

New general manager Dave Gettleman has talked all offseason about creating a positive culture. Ogletree should help make that happen.

The trade that went down Wednesday -- it can't be officially announced until March 14 -- left some Rams players upset, including star running back Todd Gurley. That tells you everything you need to know about Ogletree the person and player. He was respected and valued in the Rams' locker room. It should be the same with the Giants, where he joins his brother-in-law Andrew Adams. Ogletree is married to Adams' sister.

The downside to the trade for the Giants is that it cost them two 2018 draft picks and money. The picks should be valuable assets to a team coming off a 3-13 season and in need of restocking its roster. The Giants lack depth. They're in desperate need of an overhaul to their offensive line.

Teams needing to restock their rosters don't often trade away picks. They generally trade for picks. But the Giants appear to be gearing up for one final run with Eli Manning as their quarterback. Manning will turn 38 before the end of the 2018 season, and Gettleman & Co. seem ready to surround him with what they think are the requisite pieces to compete immediately.

It may be a flawed philosophy. Manning is nearing the end of his career. The Giants are coming off a dreadful 2017 campaign. Adding Ogletree, a few offensive line pieces in free agency and, say, running back Saquon Barkley in the draft isn't going to suddenly make them Super Bowl contenders. It may make them playoff contenders, but that shouldn't be the ultimate goal. They should be building toward winning a Super Bowl.

Paying a substantial price for Ogletree isn't the kind of move a team looking at the future makes. It's a move that a team concentrating on the next two seasons with Manning as its quarterback makes.

The trade cost the Giants fourth- and sixth-round picks in exchange for Ogletree and a seventh-round selection next year. He comes with a hefty price tag after signing an extension last October as well as a checkered on-field history. He struggled last season in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense.

Ogletree currently costs $10 million against the salary cap this season, even though it can be creatively reduced to $4.5 million if the Giants convert his upcoming roster bonus next week into a signing bonus. But that will cost them down the line, which brings into question whether this is the right move for this team at this moment.

In the meantime, at least they're better at the linebacker position today than they were yesterday.