It’s time for another edition of my Twitter mailbag. This week’s New York Giants hot topics include the future of the offensive line and the futures of unrestricted free agents Hakeem Nicks and Jon Beason.
What does the offensive line look like next year?
It’s probably a little too soon to make that call given that there are still four games left, and all it takes is a devastating injury to mess up the plans (see Rich Seubert, 2010 regular season finale).
In addition, contract negotiations tend to go astray. Just when you think a team is going to re-sign someone, things break down.
With that said, I think Will Beatty and Justin Pugh will be the tackles next year. I think the Giants might part with center David Baas, who has had multiple surgeries now, the most recent being for his knee.
I would think, not knowing the exact nature of all of Baas' multiple surgeries, that his health has to be a major concern, and I'm not only talking about his knee. Remember, Baas has also dealt with a neck injury this season that caused him to miss several games, so that would also have to be a concern.
Per OvertheCap.com, if the Giants cut Baas, who has two years remaining on his contract, they would be hit for $6.45 million in dead money next year, unless they designate Baas as a post-June 1 transaction.
If they do, that means that after June 1, they would get a cap credit of $3.225 million, an amount that should be more than enough to cover the 2014 rookie draft class and undrafted free agents.
I would re-sign Kevin Boothe to a two-year contract to play center. Meanwhile, at guard I would stick with James Brewer on the left side, and see who from the group of Stephen Goodin, Eric Herman and Brandon Mosley might be ready for the right side.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Giants have generally been teaching their young guards to double as centers. That’s not to say that their long-term center is already on the roster, but if Boothe returns, if one of the kids shows potential as a center, now you have some depth.
I also wouldn’t give up on Jim Cordle, as he’s shown that he can play the center position. Coming off a knee injury, I would think that Cordle could be back at a reasonable price, and I think he could compete for a roster spot.
I’d see what’s out there in the way of veteran free agents. It’s too soon to make any predictions, though, as upcoming free agents could end up re-signing with their current clubs before the start of free agency.
I think tackle has to be a priority since, if the Giants decide to part with David Diehl, who now is the depth at tackle?
Speaking of Diehl, I sometimes wonder if maybe he comes back for one more season as a reserve. He's been a good teammate who's never been about himself, and I tend to think teams like having those guys around.
Has Hakeem Nicks’ play become a distraction?
I wouldn’t call it a distraction; I’d probably call it more of a concern, considering he’s been healthy enough to play, notwithstanding his abdominal strain, and yet he’s not connecting with Eli Manning as often as he has in the past.
To be fair—and this is going to warrant some film study—the question that needs to be asked is how Nicks is being deployed in the offense. (Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger briefly touched upon this just a couple of weeks ago.)
Is Nicks actually getting open this year only to be overlooked? If the answer is yes, then maybe we shouldn't be so quick to write Nicks out of the picture.
The offensive line has been struggling to hold its pass blocks for more than a couple of seconds, which is a big reason why the number of successful deep passes by the Giants (the statistics of which I’ve outlined in this article) has declined.
If I'm Nicks' agent, my strategy in shopping him around is to present indisputable evidence that, despite the drop-off in production this year, it was more of a result of Manning not being able to throw to Nicks on deep passing routes than it was Nicks not getting open.
I thought the following graphic from NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast of last week's Giants-Washington game was interesting:
In 2012, Nicks was hurt, which would explain the drop-off in the numbers. In 2013, the offensive line has been shaky in its pass blocking. So did Nicks suddenly decline, or has he been a victim of circumstances?
Again, film study will probably answer the question more definitively, but these numbers suggest the latter as being the case.
Will Jon Beason be re-signed and if so where does that put us in terms of drafting a linebacker?
As previously stated, it’s hard to predict what will happen during a contract negotiation. Many people—myself included—thought that the Giants might re-sign tight end Martellus Bennett last winter, but the Bears came in with a much better offer that the Giants simply weren’t able to match.
Now with that said, Beason has been very forthright about his desire to remain a Giant for life, which is usually a good sign that a pending free agent is willing to work with his current club toward reaching a fair deal for both sides.
With that said, Beason is 28 years old and could potentially be looking at his last chance for a significant payday.
Assuming he does get an offer from the Giants—and I can’t see why he wouldn’t—he would be shortsighted if another team came swooping in with a larger, more lucrative deal and he didn’t at least consider it.
As far as drafting a linebacker, as a rule, I generally defer entering discussions about the draft until the first and second waves of free agency have concluded, especially when the team appears to be in good shape to spend a little money this offseason.
If the Giants are able to re-sign Beason, I think they’ll look in free agency to upgrade the strong-side linebacker position, which, in the Giants defense, has become the two-down linebacker.
If they can’t find anyone, then perhaps they bring Keith Rivers back on another one-year deal. However, if the plan is to draft a linebacker, I don’t see it happening until later in the draft if the Giants re-sign Beason to go along with Jacquian Williams as two of their three starters.
If they tender restricted free agents Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich, both of whom also have value on special teams, the linebacker spot doesn't look too bad for next season, at least on paper.
Have a Giants-related question you’d like answered? Hit me up on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina, or post it in the comments section, below.