New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese wasn’t giving away any state secrets when he told reporters at the NFL combine that the team is in need of adding some good players in both free agency and the draft.
However, when it came to speaking about specific positions, Reese did provide a little more insight than usual as to how the team might be leaning, and it just so happened that the position he spoke about, the offensive line, is one of the most critical on the team.
The Giants, remember, cut Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz, both one-time starters who if healthy could have plugged in the holes along the offensive line.
Neither Beatty nor Schwartz were approached about restructuring their massive 2016 cap hits, and on Wednesday, all new head coach Ben McAdoo would say when asked about those two players was, “This is a business, sometimes things don’t work out.”
With Beatty and Schwartz jettisoned, that leaves the Giants with three starters—Ereck Flowers, whom Reese said will remain at left tackle, center Weston Richburg, and Justin Pugh, who last year played in his first season at left guard.
Pugh’s versatility, in fact, could be the key regarding what the Giants do in free agency and the draft.
“Pugh is kind of flexible for us,” Reese said, noting that McAdoo and new offensive line coach Mike Solari would make that decision.
“He can play, obviously, both guards, both tackles. We’ll put him in the best place available for us to be successful.”
So where does that leave the other two spots, right guard and right tackle?
While it sounds like the preference is to leave Pugh at left guard for the foreseeable future, don’t rule out the Giants moving Pugh to right tackle and then signing a veteran left guard such as Pittsburgh’s Ramon Foster or the Ravens’ Kelechi Osemele (assuming the Ravens don’t re-sign him to be their left tackle, as the their official site reports could be the case) to play left guard.
At right guard, Reese said, “We may have the starter on the team right now.”
That, of course, might very well be Bobby Hart, last year’s seventh round pick who looked like he belonged out there when pressed into action.
While Hart won’t be handed the starting job, the Giants apparently liked enough of what they saw from Hart to think that he might be one of the pieces to the puzzle.
Another possibility for left guard, albeit a bit more of a longshot, is Adam Gettis, who last year flashed in training camp and whom the Giants signed off the Raiders’ practice squad when Schwartz was lost for the season.
Regardless of how the picture shapes up, the Giants need to add depth along the offensive line. They’re extremely thin at tackle, their backup options there being Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry, both older veterans who are on the final year of their respective deals.
At center, the team will let Brett Jones, who spent last year on injured reserve, compete to unseat Dallas Reynolds, who will be an unrestricted free agent.
Jones, a former CFL standout at center, will need to master playing guard if he is to have a chance. If he can do that, then he will likely serve as the backup at both guard and center.
At guard, the Giants have Jerry, and Gettis already on the roster and not much else.
“We’ll look for good players in free agency on the offensive line,” Reese said. “We’ll look for good players on the offensive line in the draft. Every position, draft and free agency, we’ll look for good players.”