A.J. Klein will go from being out of the NFL for the season’s first month to being part of two teams this week. The Ravens signed Klein off the Giants’ practice squad Thursday.
A veteran linebacker who had spent time with the Panthers, Saints and Bills, Klein joined the Giants’ P-squad on Monday. The Giants continued their busy acquisition stretch at inside linebacker today, however, reuniting with Landon Collins. Despite Collins playing safety during his first tour of duty in New York, the current regime prefers him at linebacker.
Klein, 31, instead will head to Baltimore to earn a chance on the Ravens’ 53-man roster. The former fifth-round pick will fill in behind starters Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes. The Ravens have shifted Malik Harrison to an outside ‘backer role, due to injury issues, leaving an opening for an experienced second-level defender to work as a second-stringer.
After working as a primary starter in place of the injured Matt Milano extensively in 2020, Klein slid back to a bench role last year in Buffalo. The Bills released Klein in March. Still, the one-time Luke Kuechly backup has made 80 career starts. Fifteen of those came in Buffalo, where Klein also contributed as a pass rusher. He led the AFC’s second-seeded Bills squad that season with a career-high five sacks, both highlighting Klein’s versatility and the Bills’ need to augment their 2020s pass-rushing situation.
An Iowa State product, Klein also crossed the 75% defensive snap threshold for two Saints playoff-bound teams (2017 and ’19) after signing a four-year, $24MM deal with New Orleans in 2017. After the Saints made Klein a cap casualty in 2020, he landed a three-year, $18MM deal with a Buffalo regime known to be rather high on ex-Panthers draft choices.
Despite Klein’s quick New York exit, the Giants have still added Collins and Jaylon Smith as veteran options to work alongside Tae Crowder at inside linebacker. Smith played 31 snaps in his 2022 Giants debut Sunday.