Linebacker Jon Beason's deal with the New York Giants is for three years and up to $19 million, with $7 million guaranteed. If he hits all of his incentives and doesn't get cut, he'll earn $12 million in the first two years.
That $6 million-plus-per-year is a good bit more than what I thought Beason would end up getting from the Giants. I thought they had him slotted for something like $4 million per year, and to see them exceed that by so much was a bit startling. Karlos Dansby, who just had a monster year as an inside linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, got $6 million per year from the Cleveland Browns. First glance, it appears Beason took the Giants to the cleaners.
So why spend so much on a position they've effectively ignored since Antonio Pierce retired? Well, there are a couple of reasons the Giants may have stretched for Beason:
They know they like him. Beason fit perfectly into the Giants' defense last year as a guy who could make the calls and get everybody lined up where they needed to be. He got the system and the terminology immediately, and the players responded to the way he delivered it. Bringing in someone else from the outside, the Giants couldn't have been sure that person would slide in as neatly.
They need leadership. Cornerback Terrell Thomas is not in their plans. Defensive end Justin Tuck could be back, but they're not exactly going out of their way to convince him to stay. Safety Antrel Rolle has only one year left on his deal. Along with Beason, these were the strong leaders on the Giants' defense in 2013. Two could be gone this year and three next year. The Giants value locker-room leadership and on-field leadership, and as a result Beason likely had more value to them than an outsider (and better player) like Dansby may have had.
He's only 29, and while he's had injuries in the past, he did stay healthy in 2013. They have reason to believe his best days are not yet behind him.
The guarantee is low. This is the big difference. Dansby got more years (four) and more guaranteed money ($12 million) from Cleveland. The Giants aren't as heavily committed to Beason. So if he disappoints or gets hurt, they're not saddled with some huge contract they can't escape. If he stays healthy and plays out the whole deal, they'd probably argue that it was money well spent.
The Giants made Beason a priority and once other teams expressed interest, I'm sure they ended up offering more than they initially offered. Good for Beason, who acted as his own agent, for getting what looks to be a very nice deal from the Giants, who decided they couldn't live without him.