New York Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh believes he's in line for a big payday going into the final season of his rookie contract in 2017, telling Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, "I’m sitting in the driver’s seat."
Pugh's belief comes in part from seeing a number of guards around the NFL sign big-money deals of late.
"Trust me, I noticed," he said. "Some of the guards are really good players who have not made Pro Bowls, guys that have missed significant time and have gotten paid a lot of money. I know where I sit in that hierarchy. I also know the Giants need to do right by me, too."
He continued, "I’ve gone out there and done everything they’ve ever asked me to do. So I know my worth. I’m going to go out there and play my best season of football and hopefully the Giants say, 'Let’s pay him what he deserves.'"
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus ranked Pugh as the No. 16 guard in the NFL last season, though he ranked the offensive line overall No. 20. That wasn't due to the play of Pugh, however. Monson noted, "The Giants may have fielded the worst pair of tackles in the game this season, but the interior trio was solid, particularly when LG Pugh was in the lineup."
Pugh is likely looking at either an extension with the Giants or the chance to hit free agency in 2018. While the franchise tag is a possibility, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted that could cost the Giants over $14 million since all offensive lineman are tagged at the same cost and the value of offensive tackles has driven up the cost for centers and guards.
But if Pugh plays well in 2017 again and is able to stay healthy, it's hard to imagine the Giants wouldn't be inclined to sign him to a long-term deal.
"I’ve played good football," Pugh said. "I know how important this year is for me. I think this is the best Giants team I’ve been on, so I think the sky’s the limit for the team and myself."