A Complete Guide to Rebuilding the New York Giants' Offensive Line in One Season
The New York Giants could be forced into making major changes to their offensive line this offseason.
With two key free agents and an aging right tackle, there is a distinct possibility that the Giants will need to rebuild their unit.
In the NFL's modern era of free agency and contract squabbles, it is increasingly difficult for teams to bring back their entire offensive line.
Since 2010 the Giants have undergone an overhaul in the trenches. This transformation is not quite complete. Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe are on the cusp of free agency, while David Diehl's days at right tackle could be numbered.
There are plenty of ways the Giants can make changes along their offensive front. Here is a look at all the viable options New York can explore in revamping its offensive line.
Bring Back Beatty and Boothe
Will Beatty has become an imposing figure at left tackle
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A key offseason priority for New York should be to retain the services of Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe. Each of these players is deserving of a pay raise and the opportunity to continue their careers in New York.
In 2012 the Giants ranked first in the NFL by allowing just 20 sacks all season.
Will Beatty's ability to protect Eli Manning's blind side consistently in 2012 will merit him plenty of attention this spring. Left tackles are at a high premium in the NFL. This could make it difficult for the Giants to bring Beatty back.
Kevin Boothe is another player who has gradually developed under offensive line coach Pat Flaherty. New York will lose a reliable and durable left guard if they allow Boothe to walk.
Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe have blossomed into coveted commodities. Now that their growing pains are in the rearview mirror, it would be a shame for the Giants to lose them.
Have a Backup Plan for Beatty
Teams know what they're getting with veteran free agent Max Starks
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The Giants will undoubtedly have money allocated for the left tackle position this offseason. If Will Beatty cannot come to terms with New York, the team may look to free agency to fill the position.
Max Starks is a quality offensive tackle who possesses the ability to thrive as both a pass- and run-blocker.
After suffering a torn ACL in 2011, Starks returned and started in all 16 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. Although the nine-year veteran saw his mobility diminish in 2012, Starks should be affordable and command a one- or two-year deal, so the risk of such a move would be minimal.
New York is in the market for a prized left tackle. Whether that means they'll re-sign Beatty or bring in a free agent remains to be seen.
Gauge OG Brandon Moore's Interest
Brandon Moore will be highly sought after this spring
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Infamous butt fumble aside, the New York Jets Brandon Moore is a quality guard who will be highly sought after. Moore would be a fine contingency plan if Kevin Boothe leaves New York.
There are several reasons why Moore switching locker rooms at MetLife Stadium makes sense.
The Jets are a team in transition—a situation which a 32-year-old offensive lineman typically avoids. Moore would also bypass a relocation process if he decides to sign on with the Giants for 2013 and beyond.
Kevin Boothe's status with New York is tenuous this offseason. New York would be prudent to approach a quality player from its own backyard.
Promote from Within
James Brewer could see an enhanced role in 2013
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The best way the Giants can ensure production from their right tackle position would be to promote from within their own ranks.
There is always a danger that a draft prospect may not be ready to start in the NFL immediately. New York can safeguard this risk by giving some of their younger players a chance at right tackle.
James Brewer is currently the best option to succeed David Diehl in 2013.
Brewer has been a project for the past two years in New York, but if anyone has a good sense of whether or not this offensive tackle is capable of starting, it's Tom Coughlin and Pat Flaherty.
The Giants will save plenty of money and time if Brewer is starting at right tackle next season. Of course, only time will tell if they have enough confidence in this young player.
Give Sean Locklear Another Opportunity
Sean Locklear performed well for New York in 2012
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Sean Locklear did everything in his power to earn a starting spot in 2012. Despite his best efforts, Locklear saw his progress come to a screeching halt following a horrific knee injury against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.
The Giants have already seen the benefits of signing Sean Locklear to an affordable contract.
During a six-week span in which he started at right tackle in 2012, New York went 5-1 and allowed just four sacks of Eli Manning.
Although questions remain regarding the health of his knee, Sean Locklear would be a valuable backup and competent starter for the Giants next season.
Cross Your Fingers for These Guys
Consider it your lucky day if Chance Warmack falls to your team on draft day
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The NFL draft is rarely a victimless spectacle. Each year a player projected to go in the top 10 is left to linger in the green room as team after team passes on him.
The Giants will have several offensive line targets on their big board in April.
General manager Jerry Reese will be crossing his fingers that one of these highly touted prospects falls to the 19th selection.
Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is an offensive tackle who would be an ideal fit for New York. The footwork and size this prospect exhibits are good enough to merit him a starting position at right tackle from day one.
Chance Warmack is a talented guard out of Alabama. Warmack's physicality is impossible to ignore, making it difficult to imagine he will be available when the Giants are on the clock.
Draft D.J. Fluker
D.J. Fluker would be a steal for New York in the second round
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While it may not be the most exciting option for fans, drafting an offensive lineman early in April's draft is a sensible move for New York. Question marks at both tackle positions and at left guard make it a priority for the Giants to bring youth into the fold.
The ability to draft a versatile player who can play either guard or tackle position is imperative.
In the case of the Giants, selecting D.J. Fluker in the NFL draft could help prevent any issues with shifting an offensive line around.
D.J. Fluker is a 335-pound junior from Alabama, who has the ability to start immediately for New York.
Fluker's size and strength make him a prime candidate to overtake David Diehl at right tackle in 2013. His run-blocking prowess could also lead to a move to the guard position in the future.
Maintain Depth at Center and Right Guard
Jim Cordle must be ready at a moment's notice
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David Baas and Chris Snee are the most likely candidates to return to New York for the 2013 season. Each player is under contract and provides veteran leadership along the line.
It would be wise for Jerry Reese to begin planning for the future at the center and right guard positions.
Jim Cordle is a backup center who may need an extra year before he is ready to play. Veteran offensive linemen often deal with nagging injuries in the later stages of their careers, which makes Cordle a valuable backup.
Snee's hip surgery following the Pro Bowl is also cause for concern.
With doubts surrounding Snee's long-term future with the club, Jerry Reese may spend multiple draft picks on offensive linemen in April. This decision would effectively stabilize the future of New York's offensive line.