EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason seems to be turning a walk-year into a big contract.
Acquired from the Carolina Panthers in a midseason trade amid speculation that he might be damaged goods, Beason has not only shown there is still a lot in his tank, the seven-year veteran has become the glue that has helped turn around a struggling defense.
Since Beason replaced Mark Herzlich at middle linebacker against Chicago on Oct. 10, the Giants (5-7) have won five of seven games and been competitive in the other two.
The 28-year-old linebacker tied his career high with 17 tackles in a 24-17 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday night. With 57 total tackles, he's third on the team, just 10 behind team Antrel Rolle, who has played in four more games.
"He has been a great voice for us," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Thursday after the team practiced for Sunday's game in San Diego against the Chargers (5-7). "On the defense you don't think you need a quarterback, but you need a quarterback, someone who can go in and command the front and relate to the back row. Jon has been able to do that. He is very good at understanding situations and being able to talk to all his defensive players and play the game at a fast tempo."
What makes Beason's adjustment so exceptional is that he came to the Giants midseason with no knowledge of their system. Within a couple of weeks, he was running the show and making all the calls.
The one problem for the Giants is that Beason has one year left on a renegotiated contract that will pay him $1 million this season. He becomes a free agent at the end of the year unless the Giants re-sign him.
Drew Rosenhaus, Beason's agent, said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that he could not discuss whether he is in talks with the team about retaining the former University of Miami player.
Coach Tom Coughlin brushed aside the topic of next year on Thursday, saying he is focused on this week.
Given a choice, Beason would like to stay, adding he'll worry about next year down the road.
"I am enjoying it," Beason said. "The team has welcomed me. I like the city. We're winning, we're trending upward. I think we are going to be a scary team that next year, or if we get help this year and get in the dance, we can do some things. For me, this is where I want to be. All I can control is my performance and the team will do what is best for the team."