Offensive Line: Lack of Stability, Continuity and Depth Raise Questions About the Future
John Fennelly , Executive Editor
The Giants have been tinkering with their offensive line for a few years now. Since C Shaun O’Hara, guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert and tackles David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie ended their record run of 38 consecutive starts in 2009, the Giants have been mixing and matching the personnel in front of QB Eli Manning.
Of that group, only Snee and Diehl remain and only Snee has remained a constant. He is in Hawaii at this week’s Pro Bowl, but he is there on reputation only. He was hampered by a hip ailment all season and will undergo surgery during the offseason. The team hopes he can recover so he can continue to anchor the line for the foreseeable future. But who will be lining up alongside him?
The time has come for the Giants to get serious about rebuilding their offensive line. Right now, they are a mixture of aging, banged-up veterans and unproven entities.
Last season, the team went with David Baas at center, Kevin Boothe at LG, Will Beatty at LT, Snee at RG and a combination of Sean Locklear and Diehl at RT. Locklear blew out his knee late in the year. Diehl was battling several ailments all season.
Snee is going nowhere. He is expected back after surgery and is signed through this season at $6.2 million with a club option for next year worth $6.7 mil. He is the one lineman all Giant fans agree they want to see in Blue going forward.
Diehl has served the team well, but he is literally at the end of his career. This is the final year of his contract and his cap number will probably force the team to keep him. They have won two Super Bowls with Diehl at LT, but this is about moving forward. With injuries wearing on him and age creeping up, this looks to be it for Big Dave.
Baas was an expensive free agent who has yielded lukewarm results for the price paid. Sure he was at center during the Super Bowl run last season, but is he worth the $5.5 mil per year deal the Giants have him signed to through 2015? Definitely not. This looks like a misfire by GM Jerry Reese. Baas is hurt all too often and even on his best day is an average NFL center.
Locklear, Boothe and Beatty are all free agents. Now you can see the concern we have over the stability of the line. Reese hid that concern well in his final media address of the season:
“We evaluate and see where everybody is. We do expect James Brewer to continue to develop kind of like Will Beatty did. David (Diehl) has been a terrific player for us. We’ll evaluate David. Everybody on the entire team will get evaluated… (Chris) Snee, (David) Baas, Kevin Bootheis a free agent. Will Beatty is a free agent. There’s a lot of work to do and wish we were playing instead of evaluating our players right now, but we’re not, so we’re moving forward. No crying in football. We’ll regroup and we’ll get better for next year.”
Locklear, if healed, could come back. He only made $825k last year and very few teams will be seeking out his services. Boothe has improved with each passing season. Teams will be interested, as they will be in Beatty, who is only 27. All three would probably prefer to return to the Giants, but money talks and the Giants don’t have a great deal of financial latitude right now.
The options on their roster are not appealing at all. Brewer saw some action for the first time this season as did C Jim Cordle. The only other OL to dress this season was Selvish Capers, a very green free agent.
The team has several projects in the wings. Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants were both drafted by Reese last season. Mosley was hurt in camp and placed on IR. McCants did not make the cut and has resurfaced with the team via a futures contract.
“They’re both developmental kids and they’ll have the offseason program and hopefully they can give us some depth and who knows? Maybe one of them will be a starter at some point,” said Reese.
There are some others the Giants have signed to futures deals that they are hoping can emerge: Levy Adcock, Bryant Browning, Chris DeGeare, Stephen Goodin and Michael Jasper. All are longshots at this point.
Going into the draft, the team will have a clearer picture of what needs to be addressed. Free agency can provide some answers. If they re-sign their three free agents back, and maybe add another (don’t count on any big names), they may not see the need to draft a lineman early on.
We have heard the Giants are looking, as always. This week at the Senior Bowl workouts, Jimmy Kempski reported Giant scouts showed some interest in Syracuse OT Justin Pugh, an underclassman who recently declared himself eligible for the draft.
Rumors also have it that the Giants like Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson..as per Matt Miller of NFL Draft Scout:
From a physical standpoint, loved how Lane Johnson looked. Had one NY Giants scout tell me, “that’s my left tackle.”
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 21, 2013