New York Giants: GM Jerry Reese Options at Left Tackle
By Michael Stewart
The Giants GM Jerry Reese will have a lot on his plate this off-season despite making the playoffs for the 1st time since 2011. Now the trick will be to get back to the playoffs again in 2017 and beyond; which is never a guarantee for any team (unless you’re the New England Patriots).
During the 2016 season despite the improved defense that GM Reese assembled it was evident that the Giants weakest link was the Offensive line and most notably the Offensive Tackle positions. Only Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh received a passing grade with their performance, so it stands to reason that the Giants need to fix 60% of their O line, before the start of season. Ereck Flowers had a disappointed season in his sophomore season ranking near the bottom among LT in the league. The solution will most likely be to move him to RT where his responsibilities lessen and hopefully he can be more effective than Marshall Newhouse who was equally as bad. Another option for Reese could also be looking towards the draft for a LT. However; if Reese decides to go to Free Agency/trade to strengthen the LT position, I have assembled a few options via free agency and also a possible trade.
LT/RT-Riley Reiff (28) 6’6/305 (Detroit): Reiff has been a steady and consistent player over the past five seasons in Detroit. Before the 2016 season, Reiff only missed 3 games over 4 seasons, so missing time with a hip injury and an illness shouldn’t factor into his next contract. If Reiff does become available and Giants GM Jerry Reese is looking for a new LT through FA; then Reiff could be a strong consideration. Reiff will most likely be seeking a multi-year contract worth roughly $7-9M per year. If so, GM Jerry Reese could be tempted to invest in arguably the best LT on the FA market.
LT-Matt Kalil (27) 6’7/315 (Minnesota Vikings): Kalil missed the majority of the 2016 season with a hip injury and although his overall performance has slipped a bit since his 2012 Pro Bowl appearance. Kalil is better and more affordable than other options the Giants have either internally and/or externally (aside from the draft). According to Spotrac; Kalil’s value should be around $5M-$6M per year moving forward; which is far less than what he made in 2016 ($11M). GM Jerry Reese spent a truck load in 2016 for defensive help; so it’s time to invest a little on the offensive side.
Trading in the NFL is usually a rarity and a possible solution to the Giants problem at Left Tackle. Two LT that standout as possible targets are; Joe Thomas (Cleveland) and Joe Staley (San Francisco). Both teams had dismal seasons and seem to be in a rebuilding stage and could be willing to listen. Historically; Reese is not known to be a creative GM when it comes to making trades, so this could be out of his comfort zone. The trade option is most likely the least possible for the Giants to acquire an LT.
GM Jerry Reese once again could look at the draft for a LT and if he does; it will be the third time in the last 5 drafts that he selects an OT (Flowers and Pugh) in the 1st round. Prospects such as Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama) could be gone by time the Giants select at #23, but stranger things have happened on draft day, so you never know. Other OT prospects such as: Garett Bolles (Utah), Roderick Johnson (Florida State) and Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh) could be available within the 1st three rounds.
As I pointed out earlier, GM Jerry Reese will have at least 3 avenues to acquire a LT before the start of the 2017 season (Free agency/Trades/Draft). Any direction would be better than staying with the current group. Although I’ve been hard and critical of Reese over the years, I still have a glimmer of hope that he understands the need to improve the Offensive Line. It is vital for the Giants to continue their playoff appearances in the years to come.