CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The New York Giants announced Friday they’ve acquired three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason from the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a late-round draft pick in 2014.
The Giants said Beason passed his physical.
“It’s amazing,” Beason said in a Giants press release. “It doesn’t happen (often) with midseason trades. But the one place I said if I wasn’t in Carolina where I wanted to be was with a great organization like the Giants with a winning tradition, leadership, a 4-3 scheme where I can come in right now. I think I can really come out and impact the season.”
Beason didn’t have much of an impact with the Panthers this season.
He started the first two games but was benched prior to Carolina’s 38-0 win over the Giants on Sept. 22. He played only one snap on defense in that game.
Beason broached the topic of wanting to play more with Panthers coach Ron Rivera in a private meeting Thursday. The Panthers then began looking for a new team for Beason.
“The trade benefits both the team and Jon,” Rivera said. “We’ll obviously get something out of it and it gives Jon an opportunity to get on the field right now.”
It’s expected that Beason will challenge Mark Herzlich for a starting spot at middle linebacker, providing he can show improvement with his knee injury. The Giants rank 21st in overall defense and 28th against the run.
The Giants host Philadelphia on Sunday and then face Chicago on Thursday.
“I’m a smart player. I learn fast,” Beason said in the release. “Being a (middle) linebacker, a lot is on your plate. I think I actually thrive in that position. I’m going to get with coach as long as it takes and as fast as I can get it as soon as I want to play.”
To make room on the roster the Giants placed veteran guard Chris Snee on injured reserve with a hip injury.
Beason has been slowed by microfracture surgery last October. Chase Blackburn, a longtime Giant who signed with Carolina this offseason as an unrestricted, replaced Beason in the starting lineup and was more effective.
Beason started all 64 games in his first four seasons with the Panthers from 2007-2010 and was given a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension before the 2011 season.
But his career has been plagued by injuries ever since.
The 28-year-old Beason tore his Achilles tendon in the 2011 season opener at Arizona and was lost for the season. He returned last season, but only played in four games before landing on IR again with shoulder and knee issues.
He then lost his starting middle linebacker spot to rookie Luke Kuechly.
Beason agreed to a restructured contract this past offseason. He started the first two games this year at weak side linebacker, but struggled in pass coverage.
After benching Beason the Panthers got their first shutout since 2008, sacking New York quarterback Eli Manning seven times and forcing three turnovers in a dominating defensive performance.
Rivera said the plan was to stick with Blackburn as the starter moving forward.
“Jon was very professional throughout the situation,” Rivera said. “Having Chase start in front of him, he was tremendous about it. He truly was professional and I’m not just saying it. He was on board with everything.”
Rivera said letting Beason go was “very tough because of what he has meant to this organization, what he’s meant to this team and what he’s meant to the linebackers.”
The coach said he informed the rest of the players of the news before a walkthrough practice Friday.
“It’s a part of this business but it just (stinks) that it is,” Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said. “I don’t think he did anything wrong. He did the best he can with the circumstances. When he was on the field he played well. When he was IR, he still pushed guys.”
Smith said he has immense respect for Beason as a person and a teammate.
“When your friend gets traded, I don’t care how neat things get done, you always think `Man, why did you have to do him like that?'” Smith said. “I’m not saying the organization did him good or bad, but when you see a friend leave you wish him the best, but you wish him here.”
The Panthers haven’t filled Beason’s roster spot. They are still on the hook for $8 million under the salary cap as part of Beason’s prorated signing bonus.
Carolina visits Arizona on Sunday.
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