Re-signing both big men could be a challenge

By Michael Stewart

GM Jerry Reese and the Giants will be facing a very tough decision in the off-season as offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg will be entering free agency. Pugh and Richburg have been very solid for the Giants for the most part during their short career, but can GM Jerry Reese re-sign both OL to long-term deals to keep the Giants OL together? GM Jerry Reese could likely find a way to get it done. Here’s a look at how the Giants and Reese can keep both:

Justin Pugh (OG): This will most likely all hinge on whether or not Justin Pugh can stay healthy and give the Giants a more durable OG worthy of a long-term contract. Pugh has been fairly durable during his career missing 5 games last season with a knee injury, but does have a history with concussions.  If Pugh rebounds well and has a big season, GM Reese could look to extend a contract before the end of the season. If not, there’s always the possibility of placing the franchise tag on him. Not sure that would be the most logical approach to take with Pugh as the franchise tag for an OL would be roughly $14.5M and a yearly contract for a player of Pugh’s ability could be roughly $10-$12M per year.

Keep in mind that one of the successes of the Giants teams during their 2 recent Super Bowl victories was the durability and longevity of their OL during that time (2007-2011) with David Diehl, Chris Snee, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie for the most part. It would make a ton of sense to reward Pugh with a new deal if he has a very productive season in 2017 to keep the OL intact.

Weston Richburg (OC): Richburg’s 2016 season wasn’t as productive as his 2015 campaign, however; it was revealed that he played with a torn tendon in his right hand. So it’s no secret that 2017 is a very important year for Richburg and if he does respond well and has a solid 2017 season; he will be in line for a big payday. Now if that scenario plays out for Richburg, GM Reese reach out to Richburg’s agent to discuss an extension, so both sides could benefit. The projected price tag for Richburg should be similar to Pugh at around $10-$12M per year or slightly higher as many view the center position more important.

Solution:  One way to keep both, Pugh and Richburg would be through other player’s contracts expiring and through cuts/releases as well. The Giants could have roughly $8.5M in cap space for 2018. This does not include cuts/releases or players restructuring their current contacts, so Reese can find a way to keep both pending OL on the Giants. However; a lot needs to happen this season for both Pugh and Richburg to continue their careers with the Giants.