Giants should extend Justin Pugh through 2024 season

New York Giants tackle Justin Pugh (67) in a preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are grappling with an undeniable reality: their offensive line ranks among the NFL’s worst. The current season has already seen the Giants’ quarterbacks under siege, evidencing the line’s inefficiency.

Statistical Downfall: A Struggling Offensive Line

The line has succumbed to 114 pressures and 20 sacks, with constant reshuffling doing little to stem the tide. The search for stability has reached a point where the team’s criteria have boiled down to finding individuals who won’t be detrimental to on-field efforts.

Justin Pugh: A Beacon of Hope for the Giants?

In their quest for competence, the Giants turned to Justin Pugh, stashing him within the confines of their practice squad. Pugh, eyeing a career resurgence, preferred the Giants for his comeback trail. His opportunity arose in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills when he was thrust into the left tackle role following Josh Ezeudu’s injury — a position Pugh had scarcely known.

Despite his inexperience, Pugh displayed resilience, surrendering just three pressures in 77 offensive snaps. While his return to a more familiar role at left guard (LG) is anticipated, especially with the recent acquisition of former tackle Tyre Phillips from the Eagles’ practice squad, Pugh’s versatility could be a boon for the beleaguered unit.

Contract Talks and Financial Implications

Post-Week 6, Pugh’s reversion to the practice squad is seen merely as a precursor to a formal contract. The deliberation now revolves around the terms. With $3.87 million in salary space currently available, the Giants are positioned to negotiate for the 2023 season. Pugh, aware of the team’s dire need, has leveraged his recent performance into a bargaining chip.

He seems amenable to a self-bet, likely welcoming a contract replete with playtime incentives. While his single post-injury game doesn’t warrant a hefty price tag, a fair agreement acknowledging his worth is under consideration.

Looking Ahead: Financial Strategy for 2024

As the Giants eye their substantial $56 million salary availability for the upcoming year, securing a seasoned, versatile lineman like Pugh should be a priority for General Manager Joe Schoen. The investment, expected to be only a fraction of the available cap space, underscores the necessity of bolstering a struggling offensive front—a move critical to the team’s reconstruction efforts.

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