It’s a known fact that the New York Giants need help along the offensive line. D.J. Fluker is an interesting and intriguing option.
When looking back at the 2016 offseason, the New York Giants won at nearly every level.
Jerry Reese’s three biggest signing — Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Damon Harrison — were all considered home run signings. The front office drafted Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, Jerell Adams, and Paul Perkins, all of whom were regular contributors by season’s end. They found value players both on the free agent scrap heap (Keenan Robinson, Kelvin Sheppard, Coty Sensabaugh) and in the undrafted free agent market (Andrew Adams, Romeo Okwara).
When it comes to free agency, this offseason won’t be as flashy as last. The Giants originally had $31 million in cap space to play with; but once they slapped the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul — one that cost the team $17 million — that figure took a significant hit. Sure, the organization and JPP can work out a long-term pact, but the number won’t be much lower than what he’s currently signed for.
Because of this, the Giants will be hunting for bargains instead of luring in top names. And despite the recent upgrades, there are still glaring holes on the roster.
One of said holes is along the offensive line, where right guard and both tackles can be upgraded. Fortunately, there may be a player who fits the mold of a player that still has upside and won’t be as expensive as Russell Okung, Andrew Whitworth, Ricky Wagner, or Riley Reiff.
That’s D.J. Fluker.
Fluker, of course, was the 11th overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in the historically bad 2013 NFL Draft. On Tuesday afternoon, the organization decided to cut their offensive linemen after believing that the $8.8 million he was owed in 2017 wasn’t worth his production.
The decision to cut him, however, wasn’t all about money.
Fluker has been recognized as someone who struggles mentally, not physically. While it’s a positive that he can maul the opposition into the ground, continuously missing assignments is worse than being overpowered in the trenches. Continuing with that theme, Fluker doesn’t always play with his head as he’s been flagged for some boneheaded penalties in the past.
But for all the negatives Fluker brings to the table, they’re outweighed significantly.
When looking up and down all NFL rosters, there may not be a player that’s tougher than the lineman. In his four-year career, he’s missed just six games despite dealing with a laundry list of injuries. Fluker is also versatile, as he’s played — and played well — at both right tackle and right guard. That won’t solve the Giants problems on the outside but he would be a significant upgrade over both John Jerry and Bobby Hart.
Then there’s age. At 25 years old, Fluker would add to the youth movement across the line, one that features Justin Pugh (26), Weston Richburg (25), and Ereck Flowers (22).
On top of his durability, versatility, and age, one thing that puts Fluker above the rest is his determination. When playing for the Chargers, he had a reputation of playing with passion, pouring his heart out each and every week, and being a great teammate. Those intangibles aren’t only great for the organization that signs him, but they can’t be taught.
It remains to be seen what the market for Fluker is; by the looks of things, there will be plenty of teams vying for his services.
But the Giants desperately need an upgrade to aid the offense. Does Fluker have the greatest track record? No.
But he’s a gamble worth taking.