While the New York Giants offensive line has been the team’s Achilles Heel over the past few seasons, there were a few bright spots last season.
Perhaps the biggest bright spot on the New York Giants offensive line last year was guard D.J. Fluker, who was added as a free agent and played well when he was given the opportunity.
The Giants signed Fluker to a one-year, $3 million “prove it” deal and showed he can be a valuable member of the offensive line, especially in the running game.
After playing sparingly in the first three games of the season, he made his first start of the season in the Giants 25-23 loss in Week 4 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fluker appeared in nine games and started in six of them. In those six starts, the Giants averaged 110 yards on the ground. It makes you wonder how things would have gone if he started from Week 1. Perhaps the Giants wouldn’t have finished with a 3-13 record.
A toe injury forced him to miss the Giants Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins. He was hoping to return the following week against the Raiders but, instead, was put on injured reserve on Nov. 27.
The 6-foot-5, 345-pound Fluker was the Chargers first round pick in 2013 (11th overall) and spent his first four seasons with San Diego playing right guard and right tackle, but it became obvious that he’s best suited to play guard.
When Fluker first arrived in New York, he spoke about how much he enjoyed the atmosphere because everybody in the organization had a positive attitude. He had a positive impact in the locker room and got along with his teammates, evidenced by his appearance in Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.‘s “Dirty Dancing” Super Bowl commercial.
A positive working environment, getting along with his teammates, and a new head coach who’s committed to running the ball is what the Giants are hoping will lure him back at a reasonable price.
Fluker will turn 27 next month and with few talented free agent linemen available, he might be seeking more annually than the $3 million he received last season.
With just under $22 million in cap space, the Giants may have to ultimately decide between Fluker and Justin Pugh when it comes to which of their free agent linemen to bring back.
Pugh is the more versatile of the two since he can play both guard positions and right tackle, but he’ll also command more money and has bigger injury concerns than Fluker.
Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman know that fixing the O-line is the top priority this offseason. It would be a shame and set the team back if they’re unable to bring back one of their best lineman in Fluker.