Giants could make splash with versatile Patriots offensive lineman in free agency

New England Patriots guard Mike Onwenu (71) (New York Giants free agent target)
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants need to upgrade their offensive line this offseason after surrendering a league-high 85 sacks in 2023. The free agency market will provide the Giants with many opportunities to upgrade their unit.

Many of the impending free agents will be extended to new contracts with their current teams before free agency kicks off, but others will shake free and hit the open market. One of the top impending free-agent offensive linemen, Mike Onwenu of the New England Patriots, seems destined to hit the open market and should be a priority target for the G-Men.

Patriots “essentially know” offensive tackle Mike Onwenu won’t re-sign

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Patriots “essentially know Onwenu isn’t coming back, and he will have high bidders.” The Giants could be among those bidders as Onwenu will be one of the top linemen available and could fill a massive need in their starting lineup.

“Many teams view Onwenu as the top offensive lineman in free agency because of his physicality, quickness, and ability to play guard or tackle,” Fowler reported this week. This versatility that Onwenu possesses will make him an especially attractive target for Big Blue.

The Giants may be in the market for three starters on the offensive line this offseason. Their left guard, right guard, and right tackle positions all seem available with no set-in-stone starters at those three spots. Onwenu could compete for a starting gig at any one of those three positions.

Onwenu made 15 starts for the Patriots this past season, splitting time between right guard and right tackle with the latter position being his primary. In 2022, however, Onwenu made all 17 starts for New England at right guard. His snaps were split between left guard and right guard in 2021, and in 2020, Onwenu played left guard, right guard, and right tackle.

Throughout his career, Onwenu has always been an upper-tier offensive lineman despite moving across the line so frequently. He earned a 71.5 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2023, surrendering just three sacks and 23 pressures across the entire season. Onwenu has never had a PFF grade below that mark and has posted a grade of 84.0 or higher in two of his four career seasons.

Mike Onwenu has a connection to the Giants’ coaching staff

The Giants’ recent hiring of new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo will create many connections for them in free agency, primarily with a handful of former Raiders offensive linemen. But Bricillo also has a connection to Onwenu, having coached him as the New England Patriots’ co-offensive line coach in 2020 and their primary offensive line coach in 2021.

The Giants could leverage this connection between Bricillo and Onwenu into a potential free-agency signing this offseason. Adding Onwenu would significantly bolster Big Blue’s unit and give them a reliable lineman who could fill in at a myriad of positions. If the Giants are going to break the bank for anyone this offseason, Onwenu might be their best splash signing target.

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