It would not be a homecoming if Deone Bucannon comes to the Giants, but it would be a reunion, as Bucannon and Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher are well-acquainted with each other.
On Monday, the first day of the legal tampering period, the Giants expressed interest in Bucannon, a source told The Post, and this is a potential pairing that makes sense. The Giants need a safety and a linebacker, and Bucannon is more than a little of both.
Bucannon, 26, was a first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2014, taken 27th overall out of Washington State to play safety. Bettcher at the time was the outside-linebackers coach in Arizona. In 2015, after an injury to Sean Weatherspoon, Bucannon was asked to make the transition to an inside-linebacker role, with Bettcher named as the new coordinator, in a 3-4 defensive front. Bucannon obliged and, despite being only 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, flourished in his new hybrid role, starting all 16 games and making 91 tackles.
That was the high point for Bucannon, as his production declined in subsequent years, even as the Cardinals picked up his fifth-year option for 2018. With Bettcher running a Giants defense and the erstwhile starting strong safety, Landon Collins, departing for free agency, Bucannon could be a new piece to the puzzle for Bettcher, playing both safety and inside linebacker. Bucannon is reputed to be strong dropping in coverage, and the Giants last season were deficient in that area.
At safety, the Giants do not return any starters. At inside linebacker, they have Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson returning. Ogletree’s role appears secure, but the Giants could be looking for an upgrade from Goodson, or else looking to add depth on a defense lacking in that department.