The New York Giants mostly neglected the offensive line in free agency this offseason. They did not involve themselves in negotiations with any of the top offensive tackles on the market like some predicted they would. Instead, New York signed Cameron Fleming to a cheap one-year deal.
This could be the Giants setting themselves up to draft an offensive tackle in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Or it could be that the front office is looking to make more fiscally responsible decisions. The Giants have already invested much money into their offensive line.
23.5% Of The Salary Cap
Believe it or not, the Giants’ most expensive position group is the offensive line. New York has invested $40 million into the offensive trenches, which accounts for 23.5% of the team’s salary (according to NFL on YouTube). The bulk of this expense is divided between two players.
Nate Solder accounts for nearly half of the offensive line’s salary with a 2020 cap hit of $19.5 million (according to Spotrac). In addition to Solder’s massive contract, right guard Kevin Zeitler is also carrying a high cap hit. Zeitler’s 2020 cap hit is $12.5 million (Spotrac).
Nate Solder and Kevin Zeitler’s contracts alone make up $32 million of the $40 million that the Giants have invested into the position group. The Giants are wise to invest so much into a group that is so important. But since they have so much money spent into the offensive line, why is the unit still struggling?
An Expensive And Bad Offensive Line
The New York Giants’ offensive line was one of the weakest units in the NFL despite being one of the most expensive. The Giants’ line allowed 43 sacks and 119 quarterback hits in 2019. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones was constantly under duress.
Life was not made easy for Saquon Barkley, either. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants’ offensive line had a “stuffed” percentage of 20% (the percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage). With so much invested into the Giants’ offensive line, they will need to see significant improvements in 2020. If not, then these players will likely be cut and stripped of their massive contracts.