As a self-described “Jersey boy,” born and raised in Jersey City, Jonathan Casillas would love to continue his NFL career with the New York Giants.
The nine-year veteran linebacker is due to become a free agent and the Giants have a new general manager, Dave Gettleman, and a new coach, Pat Shurmur, so his future with them is uncertain.
‘I feel like, to get everything out of the NFL and to get everything out of that platform that presents itself, you have to be able to give more to people’
What is certain to Casillas, however, is what he brings to the team on top of his skills as a player.
“I’m not just a guy,” Casillas told Zig Fracassi and Solomon Wilcots on NFL Rewind. “(There are) a lot of people in the NFL — players, coaches — that just play their position. Linebacker, they come to work every day and they study hard and then they go play the game. I feel like I’ve been around enough to know that we’re a little more than that. I feel like, to get everything out of the NFL and to get everything out of that platform that presents itself, you have to be able to give more to people and I feel like I’ve done that throughout my career.
‘I’m not the best player on the Giants, I’m not the best defender of the Giants, but I’ve been voted captain twice for a reason’
“And I’m not only talking about off the field. I’m talking about on the field. I’ve always brought guys around, especially undrafted guys, guys like myself that maybe don’t look too strong to make the team. The odds are against them and I would always give them a couple things here and there and kind of tell them, ‘Hey, you know, special teams is the way to go’ or just correcting their technique. And I’ve noticed a lot of guys don’t do that, which is OK. But I’ve been that type of guy for a long time. I’m not the best player on the Giants, I’m not the best defender of the Giants, but I’ve been voted captain twice for a reason. I bring a lot more than just the player aspect of it.”
Casillas has incorporated a great deal of what he has seen and heard throughout his career, including previous stints with the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. He first saw the value of a player speaking up as a 21-year-old rookie with the Saints when Drew Brees took over a team meeting.
‘I come back from injury and I’m like, ‘All right, now I get to talk with the guys, because I’ve got skin in the game”
“Everybody wants to be a great player, but I feel like I’ve done a lot to where I affect other people,” Casillas said. “For example, we were not that good this year, everybody knows that. We were losing and I was out for awhile and then I came back from injury and I felt like, finally I have my right to talk to the defense without the coaches because when you’re hurt, it’s hard to talk when you’re not playing. So I come back from injury and I’m like, ‘All right, now I get to talk with the guys, because I’ve got skin in the game.’ I had a defensive (players)-only meeting, kicked all the coaches out. And I demanded a lot from different guys. One guy, Landon Collins, just coming at him … It’s like, ‘Look, man, you’re our best player, you have to play that way. If you don’t play the way you’re supposed to play, we don’t look the same.’
“The next week, Landon had 15 and 14 tackles. Look, I’m not saying that’s because of me, but I did have a talk with him and he had his two best games of the year. I’m just saying.”
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