After passing on the likes of Eugene Monroe, Russell Okung, and Ryan Clady, Jerry Reese could be putting the New York Giants in a tough short term position.
Jerry Reese is betting a lot on his 2015 first round Draft pick, Ereck Flowers. The bet, of course, includes his franchise quarterback.
The New York Giants general manager has had ample opportunities to bring in a veteran presence at left tackle, but has spurned them all in favor of Flowers.
I’ll give Flowers credit where credit is due. He is a tough player who gritted through injuries on the field, despite the obvious struggles he endured while making the transition from college to the pros during his rookie campaign. Still, there has to be question marks as whether he can develop into a starting left tackle on a playoff hopeful team in the span of just a single year.
This week, former Baltimore Raven Eugene Monroe became the latest established veteran offensive lineman to reject the Giants’ offer to join the squad on the understanding he would be manning the right side of the line. This comes after a similar situation unfolded with former Seattle Seahawk and Pro Bowler Russell Okung earlier in the offseason.
Both players were in extremely similar situations entering their respective free agencies. Both were once regarded as among the top players at their position just a few seasons ago; both are coming off injury riddled seasons; and both were likely hoping to prove themselves as viable veteran options on the open market.
The Giants showed interest in both, had talks with both, but ultimately neither were interested in settling to become Big Blue’s right tackle.
The reason why neither would accept the right tackle slot is fairly clear: Monroe and Okung wanted left tackle dollars.
Okung received his long term-big money deal from the Denver Broncos (albeit without a cent being guaranteed), and while Monroe is still exploring his remaining options, my bet is he gets over five million in guaranteed cash per season over a couple of years from the San Francisco 49ers to play left tackle.
So to put it bluntly, say hello to your 2016 starting right tackle: Marshall Newhouse.
It’s not a kiss of a death for this playoff hopeful squad. Reports have said John Jerry‘s offseason program has been “career altering,” while people around the Giants organization told me similar things about Newhouse and his own workout regime and metal approach to 2016. An offensive line of Newhouse, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Jerry, and Flowers could be a playoff caliber group when you consider the offensive pieces around them, as well as the division they’ll be fighting in. Sure, it could be good enough to make it.
But with all the hype around the revamped defense, adding Sterling Shepard, the return of Victor Cruz, and Eli Manning‘s dark horse candidacy at a 2016 MVP title, rolling into a playoff or bust season with Newhouse as the starting tackle seems underwhelming to say the least.
What’s most frustrating about it all is that there were oppurtuinites to bring in fresh faces, plenty of them. There were even chances to keep guys who couldn’t make it to the field due to injuries last season. The Giants cut bait on the sidelined Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz, the latter of whom Big Blue did not even give the courtesy of a pay cut offer.
Essentially, this offseason New York decided to stay pat with the offensive line group that had them picking in the top 10 this year.
Okung and Monroe were both free agents, going after the best situations for themsleves which is understandable desire. I can’t kill Reese for still belieiving in a guy just one year after he drafted him with the ninth overall pick. Yet, I can grind my axe with him for not pulling the trigger on the Ryan Clady trade.
The New York Jets parted ways with a fifth round pick in exchange for Clady and a seventh round pick from Denver. The former 2009 and 2012 All-Pro had endured his fair share of struggles in the recent years, last year being ranked the 41st best offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus in a season during which he allowed 32 pressures.
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Still, the Broncos were quarterback hungry and desperate to clear Clady’s cap number after they had already took on Okung’s newly signed contract. Had the Giants been the first team on the other end of the phone line with a low ball offer, chances are the deal would have been done in a heartbeat.
Even if Reese was made to play ball with Denver and had to give in to the terms of the deal the Jets eventually agreed to, this is still a good trade for Big Blue. Clady is under contract by your team now, you can make him your right tackle. And considering there are 64 starting offensive tackles in the NFL, getting the 41st best one isn’t that bad a thing when your alternative is Newhouse.
At the end of the day, I could play armchair general manager with you here all day and tell you I would have absolutely slid Flowers over to right tackle to make room for Okung. Were it Monroe, I’d tell him he would have a shot to battle for the left tackle spot at the very least. Meanwhile, I would make the Clady trade 11 time out of 10, but it’s all mute at this point.
My problem is not Ereck Flowers starting the season as the Giants left tackle next year. My problem is Marshall Newhouse starting the season as New York’s right tackle next year, when Big Blue had ample opportunity to make sure that did not happen.
While he was among the worst starting left tackles in the game last season, Flowers has a lot of potential he has yet to scratch.
As good as he might one day be though, with the state of the Giants franchise in a must win climate, it seems an experienced veteran on the offensive line in 2016 would have been worth moving Flowers.