New York Giants: Projecting the starting offensive line for the 2021 season

New York Giants, Daniel Jones
Dec 27, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) directs the offense in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have a difficult task ahead of them figuring out their starting offensive line for the 2021 season. With Cam Fleming hitting free agency and starting right guard Kevin Zeitler being cut to save money, two major positions upfront now need to be solved.

In fact, most believed that the Giants would offer Zeitler a reconstructed contract, lowering his cap hit and allowing the Giants to retain arguably their best OL. However, that isn’t the case, as they cut him straight up and saved $12 million to apply toward interior pass rusher Leonard Williams.

Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post stated that a source told him the Giants never approached Kevin Zeitler for a restructure, which ultimately lead to him being cut.

This comes off as a bit worrisome, considering the Giants have a big hole at right guard and will likely sign a cost-efficient player to supplement the loss of Kevin next season. There’s always the potential they roll with the current players on the roster and look to the 2021 NFL draft to find a competitive piece. The second round offers plenty of guards to choose from, including Wyatt Davis, Creed Humphrey, and even Alex Leatherwood if he makes the transition inside.

The Giants desperately want to keep their line young, and recent reports have indicated there is “optimism” that Nate Solder will remain a Giant moving forward. After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, Solder is keen on making a comeback to the NFL, but this time it might be at right tackle, a position he hasn’t played in over a decade.

With the Giants having the 32nd ranked pass blocking OL last season and averaging 17.5 points per game, good for second to last, just ahead of the New York Jets, protecting quarterback Daniel Jones should be a priority. In fact, a majority of their resources this off-season should go toward the offense since the NFL is quickly transitioning toward a points-based league.

Nonetheless, GM Dave Gettleman seems hyper-focused on retaining his interior defenders instead of bolstering the OL and signing a play-maker. While there’s plenty of time left in free agency and the draft to solve a few positional holes, the lack of restructured contracts is a bit worrisome. The Giants now have more issues than they started with, but we shouldn’t rule out a successful off-season prematurely.

Projecting the New York Giants’ starting offensive line for the 2021 season:

LT: Andrew Thomas

LG: Shane Lemieux

C: Nick Gates

RG: Will Hernandez

RT: Nate Solder

I believe the Giants will roll with their youth, as Gettleman stated, you “have to let the kids play at some point.”  While he does have a point, relying on inexperienced players with your quarterback entering his third season could end up being extremely problematic, and if the Giants have a fourth consecutive down year, Gettleman might be writing his own ticket home.