The New York Giants appear to have finally found their replacement for Antonio Pierce.
Keith Bulluck has agreed to sign with the Giants and told ESPN.com’s Tom Friend that he has been offered the middle linebacker job. The former Titans outside linebacker has agreed to a one-year deal worth about $2.5 million with incentives according to a league source.
“I’m a New York dude – no way I can play anyplace else,’’ Bulluck told Friend. “New York’s about toughness…the NFC East. That’s where I belong.”
Bulluck, 33, is coming off ACL surgery seven months ago but has been rehabbing in Manhattan and worked out for the Giants earlier this week. Bulluck, who grew up in New York, went through a vigorous workout with the Giants on July 19. He was asked to stay one more day to see how his surgically-repaired knee held up and when it showed no swelling, the Giants were sold. General manager Jerry Reese offered him a contract and the starting middle linebacker spot, Bulluck told Friend.
Bulluck still went and visited with the Cardinals but it didn’t take him long to make up his mind on where to play this season.
“He was pretty geeked up about both places,” Gary Wichard, Bulluck’s agent, said by telephone on Saturday. “Next day he calls me up and he says, ‘I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life. I’m from New York. It’s not even close.’ It was his dream to play for the Giants. He grew up in New City. Like all kids his age, L.T. was what it is about.”
The Giants have been searching for someone to replace the defense’s heart and soul in Pierce, who was released shortly after the season and has since retired. While Bulluck is coming off knee surgery, he brings a gritty veteran presence to the linebackers and leadership qualities that are sorely needed.
“Much needed Vet Presence!” Pierce tweeted shortly after news broke of Bulluck’s signing.
Wichard says Bulluck’s transition to middle linebacker will not be a problem considering that he’s played the middle before in college and some with the Titans.
“He’s played the middle linebacker his whole college career until they moved him to WILL,” Wichard said. “So he can play anywhere. He can line up anywhere with that defensive line in front of him and he just makes tackles.”
He had 108 tackles last season in 14 games before suffering his knee injury. Bulluck had started 127 straight games prior to the injury.
“He is seven months post operation, he is ready to go,” Wichard said. “He didn’t want to visit or meet anybody until he could work out for them.”
Bulluck told Friend he rehabbed his knee in Manhattan and being in the city re-energized him.
“Just walking the streets of New York gave me my edge back,’’ said Bulluck, 33, a former Pro Bowl player spent the last 10 seasons with the Tennessee Titans. “Some of those walks were tough, man. Like when it’s raining or sleeting or it’s just cold out. And your knee aches. I wasn’t 100 percent at the time. But the energy of it all helped me. Just the people, the good attitudes, the bad attitudes, just the whole vibe of the metropolitan area. If you’re from there or have ever been there, you definitely know what I’m talking about. I’d have to say this is a dream come true.’’
Prior to signing Bulluck, Jonathan Goff, rookie Phillip Dillard, Gerris Wilkinson and Chase Blackburn were all competing for the middle linebacker spot. Now Bulluck is the man if his knee holds up in camp. Clint Sintim and Michael Boley are the starting outside linebackers.
“The game changes now that I’m in New York,’’ Bulluck says. “The game totally changes. I think that the energy that the city brings and the excitement and the fans that all the New York sports teams have will definitely help me out a lot. Just as far as stoking the fire that’s still burning. I’d love to help bring another championship to New York.”
“But I can’t just go back there and not be productive. I’ve still got work to do, and I’m still working towards everything that I need to do for myself individually. I mean, it would’ve been great to end my career in Tennessee because that’s where I started. But it’s would be great to end my career in New York because that’s where it really all started.’’