Giants Lose Andrew Norwell Sweepstakes; What Now?
New York Giants fans waited with bated breath on Monday night, waiting to hear news on free agent guard Andrew Norwell. The Giants were considered the “heavy favorites” to sign Norwell. However, Tuesday morning produced different results. Tom Coughlin’s Jacksonville Jaguars swooped in to sign Norwell to a five-year, $66.5 million contract, spurning his former team in the process.
It did not end there on Tuesday, as New York lost center Weston Richburg to the San Francisco 49ers.
Not the best start for the Giants at the start of the new league year. With the team banking on locking in Norwell to a long-term deal, it’s back to the drawing board for general manager Dave Gettleman.
Here are some options the Giants can consider to fix their long-time offensive line woes.
Re-Sign Justin Pugh
With the Giants back to square one, one of the main pieces they can focus on is Justin Pugh. The Giants freed up cap space in order to make a run for Norwell. Now, with approximately $20.5 million in cap space, that could be more than enough to bring back Pugh.
The right tackle/guard is commanding an annual salary of $9-10 million, but the fact that he missed half of last season with a back injury could drop his asking price. Bringing back one of the stronger pieces of the offensive-line makes sense. A Pugh-Giants reunion makes sense.
Sign Nate Solder
Albert Breer of TheMMQB reports the Giants have set their focus on free agent left tackle Nate Solder. After losing the Norwell sweepstakes, Solder is the next best available offensive lineman on the market.
Solder has spent the past seven seasons protecting Tom Brady’s blindside in New England, which helped lead the Patriots to two Super Bowl victories. An upright Brady has led to Super Bowl success, and Solder was one of the key factors in keeping the quarterback on his feet.
The Giants have had issues at left tackle, as Ereck Flowers struggled throughout his first three seasons. Yet, his poor play kept him on the field, due in part to a lack of offensive line depth. Solder provides an immediate upgrade at left tackle, and the Giants could make the right offer, if they make some more cap-saving moves (i.e. cutting Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris).
Re-Sign D.J. Fluker
The Giants signed former first round pick D.J. Fluker to a one-year “prove it” deal this past season, and did he ever prove it.
After spending portions of the season on the bench, when he took the field, he showed he was one of the stronger pieces of the line. When the Fluker was on the field, he helped get the running game going. In fact, New York averaged 25 more rushing yards per game when Fluker started.
Yes, Fluker will have more of a market this offseason than last year, but the Giants will certainly keep an eye on the situation.
Sign Chris Hubbard
Hours after the Norwell signing in Jacksonville, Patricia Traina of The Athletic reported the Giants have interest in former Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Chris Hubbard.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham product is the best available right tackle free agent on the market. Hubbard has started in 14 of 39 career games, ten of those coming last season. The Steelers do boast one of the deeper o-lines in the league, which has limited Hubbard’s playing time. However, in his starts, he has shown the potential to be a starting right tackle of the future, and his potential will only grow.
Hubbard would command a cheaper contract than other options, which could be right up Gettleman’s alley.
UPDATE: Hubbard is expected to sign with the Cleveland Browns on a five-year, $37.5 million, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Draft Quenton Nelson
If the failure to lock in Norwell proved anything, it’s that the Giants now must address the offensive line via the draft.
Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson has ranked as one of the top overall prospects in the 2018 draft class, with some calling him “a future Hall of Famer.” Norwell’s deal with Jacksonville only raised the value of guards, which will cause teams to dish out a hefty sum to sign one in the future.
Now, Nelson enters the NFL as a long-term solution for the Giants. Great potential, and it will come on a rookie contract.
Put the quarterback plans on hold at No. 2, Nelson now becomes ultra valuable entering the NFL Draft on April 26.
Draft Mike McGlinchey (If the Giants Trade Down in the First Round)
The Giants could focus on another Notre Dame offensive lineman in Mike McGlinchey.
However, this could be a match in a hypothetical situation. The Buffalo Bills are looking to trade up into the Top Five of the first round, and the Giants have been linked as a trade partner. In order for that to happen, the Bills would have to give up a haul to convince Gettleman to move down from No. 2 to No. 12.
McGlinchey emerged from the NFL Combine as the best offensive tackle in the draft class. Standing at six-foot-eight, weighing 312 lbs, the Notre Dame product excelled as a run blocker, which helped the Fighting Irish’s rushing attack. McGlinchey also performs well in pass protection, with his ideal position being at left tackle.
The Giants drafting McGlinchey is a possibility, but only if they swap picks with the Buffalo Bills.