No surprises here, but heading into the off-season the Giants’ #1 priority was to upgrade the offensive line. And they appear to have at least made a dent with the signing of former New England LT Nate Solder and former Jacksonville OG Patrick Omemah. The biggest splash obviously is Solder who was arguably the top – if not the only – quality LT on the free agent market this year. Did the Giants overpay for Solder? Definitely, but that’s how free agency works. The goal in free agency when dealing with one of the top guys is to get him in your building and, if you do, throw a boatload of money at them with the proviso that the offer comes off the table the moment the guys steps out of the building. And what you have to do is throw enough money at them to keep them from walking out of the building. Is Solder the best LT out there? No, but he’s close enough.
That aside, Solder is a huge get for the Giants because, everything else being equal, they have hopefully locked down the LT spot for the next 4 years or so. And after QB LT just maybe the toughest spot in the lineup to fill. On the one hand, quality LTs just don’t come loose in free agency very often. Certainly, after Solder the pickings this year were going to be slim to none. There are also tough to find in the draft because, like QBs, the good ones get snapped up pretty quickly when there are good ones. And again the LT pickings in the 2018 draft look like they are going to be very slim.
Couple of asides on the Solder signing. First, there seemed to be a general consensus out there that Solder was in fact the Giants fall-back position in free agency after they lost on the Andrew Norwell sweepstakes to Jacksonville. One of my sources close to the Giants, though, is suggesting that Solder was in fact the target all along. We haven’t been able to get a confirming second opinion, but what does appear is that the Giants offered considerably more to Solder than they likely did to Norwell. The latter signed with Jax for just over $13M per year, $6M of which is guaranteed. Granted there is the issue of taxes, but its unlikely that the Giants offer to Norwell was over that. On the other hand, they are giving Solder $15.5M per year with $9M guaranteed (on a shorter contract). Granted we are talking about different positions here, but it’s simply hard not to make the case that the Giants likely offered Solder considerably more than that did Norwell.
The other aspect of the deal is that in signing Solder, the Giants actually upgraded two positions with Ereck Flowers now moving over to the right side. Of course, Flowers never lived up to the promise of a top ten pick on the left side, but no matter how you cut it he’s a huge upgrade over Bobby Hart and the cast of characters the Giants trotted out at the position last fall. Flowers still has to win the job, but it is telling that he was the first person G.M. Dave Gettleman called after the Solder signing was announced. That the Giants were concerned about how he would take the news tends to indicate on the one hand that Flowers likely is very much in their plans, at least for 2018. And don’t think for a minute that the other players didn’t notice that Gettleman has a little bit of their backs.
It also doesn’t appear that the Giants are necessarily done on the OL; they are reportedly in contention to add veteran C John Sullivan and they reportedly remain in contact with free agent OG D.J. Fluker who is out there talking with other teams. On the other hand, while the Giants’ offensive line still looks like a unit some flux, they may have done just enough that they don’t have to force a pick on the OL with their second-day picks. (And no, while we always hate to say never, they are not taking Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson with their first round pick next month).
The Giants could still take an OL with either their second or third round picks, but more if the guy is just too good to pass on, rather than having to force a pick there because they need the bodies. One guy to watch in the former regard is Ohio State C/G Billy Price, who could drop after undergoing surgery to repair that torn pec suffered at the combine.
In fact, by filling in a lot of the blanks on the OL via free agency, the Giants have put themselves in a position that once they get their QB of the future with the 2nd pick overall, they can address some issues on the other side of the ball. Indeed, a pretty good case can be made that the Giants’ biggest need at this hour is the secondary and particularly the CB situation.
The CB situation is acerbated by the fact that new defensive co-ordinator James Bettcher loves to bring pressure, but the other side of pressure is you have to have good cover people and right now the Giants are very thin back there. DRC is gone leaving the Giants without a solid slot corner (not to mention any depth outside), while Jackrabbit Jenkins is coming off a down year and may be facing an untenable cap situation in 2019. Meanwhile Eli Apple is, well Eli Apple. And there ain’t much behind those guys especially if Ross Cockrell isn’t resigned.
In the end, no one should be surprised if the Giants opt to use their #2 pick this year on a CB. Indeed, there’s a pretty good CB class this year. In fact, we wouldn’t be totally shocked if the Giants used both their 2nd day picks on corners, especially if they aren’t able to do anything meaningful at the position in free agency.