New York Giants should see further offensive line improvements in 2021

New York Giants, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants‘ offensive line was inconsistent in 2020. The Giants have had struggles across their offensive line for years now. It is a problem the Giants seemingly cannot fix. However, they are slowly working towards improving the offensive line, investing plenty of assets into the unit over the past two years.

The Giants traded for Kevin Zeitler in 2019 and signed Nate Solder to a huge contract in the 2018 free agency period. These are the two moves New York has made to acquire veteran talent on the offensive line. In 2020, though, the Giants shifted towards a more youthful approach on the offensive line.

New York spent the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on left tackle Andrew Thomas. They then doubled down at the position in the third round, selecting offensive tackle Matt Peart with pick number ninety-nine. But the Giants were not done there. They also spent a fifth-round pick on offensive guard Shane Lemieux in 2020.

These rookies saw plenty of playing time in the 2020 regular season. However, their performance was not always consistently good. However, there are reasons to believe that the Giants’ offensive line will improve further in 2021.

Continuity is key

The New York Giants’ offensive line severely lacked continuity and experience in 2020. Along with the rookies that saw extensive playing time, the Giants started second-year lineman Nick Gates at center, a position he had never played before. Gates was practically a rookie as well.

Taking that into consideration, the Giants had experienced players at only two of the five offensive line positions last season. Right guard Kevin Zeitler is an excellent, veteran player. Right tackle Cam Fleming is also an experienced veteran. However, the rest of the line was comprised of rookies and inexperienced players for the majority of the season.

The Giants also had no continuity along their offensive line. In terms of calling protections and passing off stunts, continuity and chemistry is crucial. No one on the Giants’ offensive line in 2020 lined up next to a teammate that they lined up next to in 2019.

Kevin Zeitler was placed between a brand new center and a brand new right tackle. The absence of Nate Solder left rookie Andrew Thomas as the Giants’ starting left tackle, sandwiching the left guard position between two newly acquired players.

The 2021 season will see the Giants’ offensive line play with far more chemistry and continuity than they did in 2020. There is not likely to be much overturn at all along New York’s offensive line. There could be a change made at the right tackle position, but the other four positions will likely be manned by the same players from last season. Additionally, the Giants made a change at the offensive line coach position midseason in 2020. Hopefully, in 2021, New York’s front line can enjoy the coaching of a singular coach. This second-year together could allow the Giants’ offensive line to grow and develop into a more continuous and consistent unit.

New York Giants: 7 players the Giants need to part ways with in 2021

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants might have missed the playoffs, but that does not mean they lacked roster talent at several key positions.

The Giants needed a little help from the Eagles to sneak in, but of course, they did us dirty in their tank-job. Either way, the Giants should have controlled their own destiny and made the postseason on their own. This team is still ways away from competing for a Championship. The G-Men have some very difficult decisions this offseason about this roster. There are a few easy decisions that the Giants have to do to create more cap space to sign and re-sign some key players to this team.

Here are the seven players that the New York Giants need to part ways within 2021:

LB Kyler Fackrell

The New York Giants signed Kyler Fackrell to a one-year prove-it deal, worth around $4.6 million. Most of Fackrell’s contract included guarantees, which were around $3.5 million.

The other thing Fackrell proved was he can not be a productive pass rusher this late in his career. He was a good rotational pass rusher for the Giants. Fackrell had 4.0 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception which he returned for a touchdown against Dallas in 11 games.

The Giants are lacking a pass rush due to Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines having season-ending injuries. They are also looking for a pass rusher either in free agency or in the draft.

RB Dion Lewis

The Giants signed Dion Lewis to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. Obviously, they did not spend a lot of money on Lewis, but his performance tells the story of way.

Lewis has played 15 games for the G-Men, and the stats show for themselves why he should not be on this roster next season. Lewis only produced 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Lewis caught only 19 passes for 127 yards and a score.

Not only did Lewis struggle at running back for the Giants, but he also struggled to be the Giants’ return specialist. Lewis fumbled three times on kickoff.

Based on the lack of production, the Giants have no reason to re-sign him back in 2021.

LT Nate Solder

Before we start to talk about why the Giants need to cut him in 2021, I just want to say this is nothing personal. I have a lot of respect for Solder for putting his family first over football and money. It takes a lot of pride!

The New York Giants signed Nate Solder to a four-year deal worth $62 million. Solder has a cap hit of $16.4 million, but if the Giants wait to cut him post-June 1, the Giants would free up $9.9 in cap. It would leave them with $6.5 million in dead money.

It’s entirely possible that the 32-year tackle may just want to retire. If he does not, the Giants may have no other choice to cut him due to lack of production. Solder’s performance has been disappointing since his signing in 2018, allowing 18 sacks and 89 pressures in just two seasons.

I hope the best for Solder in what he chooses, if it’s to stay in the NFL or retire, but I do not see him in a Giants uniform in the 2021 season.

QB Colt McCoy

The Giants signed Colt McCoy to a one-year deal worth $2.25 million. McCoy deal is really friendly with the Giants, but with the injury history of Daniel Jones, the Giants need a more viable option at backup quarterback.

In the four games that McCoy appeared in, he has completed 60.6% of his passes for 375 yards and only one touchdown but one interception. The issue with having McCoy at backup is the Giants only scored a combined 13 points in his two starts.

With backup quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston all becoming free agents this offseason, the Giants need to sign one of these guys that can come in and still compete.

RB Devonta Freeman

Big Blue signed Devonta Freeman in the middle of the season to fill in for Saquon Barkley when he went down with his ACL tear. Freeman signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Giants only worth $1.35 million.

Freeman took some time to get up to speed but ultimately was very unproductive for the G-Men. Freeman logged 54 carries for 172 yards and only one touchdown. Freeman played in five games before going down with an injury and going on the injured reserve for the Giants.

Barkley should be ready for the 2021 season. With the lack of production during this season, there is no reason for the Giants to keep Freeman.

RT Cameron Fleming

The Giants signed Cameron Fleming to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. Fleming, when signed, was not expected to be a starter, but when Solder opted out of this season, he was thrown right into the starting lineup at right tackle.

Fleming has struggled since Week 1 and has been rotating in and out with rookie tackle Matt Peart. Fleming has surrendered six sacks, four quarterback hits, and 35 pressures given up.

One of the biggest reasons why Fleming came to New York was because of Marc Colombo and Jason Garrett. When Colombo was fired about a month ago and Garrett now on the hot seat, it is really hard to see Fleming back in a Big Blue uniform in 2021.

WR Golden Tate

The New York Giants signed Golden Tate to a four-year deal worth $37.5 million in 2019. When this signing first happened, it seemed like the Giants did this to please the fans when they traded Odell Beckham Jr. shortly before.

The Giants could release Tate after the 2020 season and gain $6.1 million back on the cap. The Giants would have $4.7 million in dead money, but that will really open the receiver spot for the Giants to either sign or draft a weapon for Daniel Jones.

Tate is not the player he once was. He was been very injury prone over the last two seasons, had a disciplinary issue that made him get benched for a game in 2020, and suspended for PEDs in 2019. Even on the field, his production has been lacking. Tate, in the past, was a receiver that would get tons of separation and was deadly after the catch.

With Tate’s lack of production for the last two seasons, I do not see Tate playing another in a G-Men uniform in 2021.

 

 

New York Giants: Players that could move to clear cap space after Logan Ryan deal

New York Giants, Golden Tate

The New York Giants are bringing back Logan Ryan for another few seasons. The defensive back is set to sign a three year contract with the team after originally joining them on a one year deal. However, the Giants still have some other upcoming free agents that they need to make a decision on. The new deal for Ryan ties up some of the cap space that may be needed to keep some of the team’s best defenders.

It’s worth taking a look at which players the Giants could shed if they want to make sure there’s cap space to bring back Leonard Wiliams and Dalvin Tomlinson in addition to Logan Ryan.

Kyler Fackrell

With the Giants needing a pass rusher, they signed Kyler Fackrell on a one year deal before the season. There was some initial skepticism due to his failure to remain a competitive player in Green Bay, but he’s been an alright addition to the Giants with 3 sacks this season. However, Fackrell has a $4.6M cap hit if the Giants sign him on a deal with the same value as his current one.

There’s a chance that he looks for more money thanks to his increased stats since leaving Green Bay, and the Giants may not be in a position to offer a deal like that if they’ve set upon the goal of bringing back both Tomlinson and Williams. We may just see Fackrell walk in free agency this offseason.

Golden Tate

It doesn’t look like there’s a way Golden Tate will be a Giant next season. While things around the wide receiver have since calmed down, his public tantrums about not receiving the ball enough didn’t endear him to head coach Joe Judge. He’s also liked a Tweet asking the Giants to cut him, and peculiarly enough, the Giants are able to do that without paying him guaranteed money.

Tate’s suspension last season for performance enhancing drugs voided the guaranteed money on his contract, and it looks like the Giants will move on from Tate both to save on cap space and to get rid of a player that hasn’t flourished under the new administration. Otherwise, they face a $10.3M cap hit going into next year.

Nate Solder

Nate Solder didn’t have a good first season with the Giants at all. It looks like the Patriots moved on from the player at just the right time, because his performance immediately dropped off after joining the Giants and his role has largely been replaced by now by Andrew Thomas. Solder hasn’t played this season because he opted out beforehand. And he may not play for the team again.

While Solder has a disproportionately large contract for the level of play the Giants have been able to get out of him, he’s said that he’s enjoying life with his family right now and that retirement isn’t off the table. That’s not a guarantee,

Solder has said that he might retire in two years or three years instead. But if he comes back, he does face an uphill battle to get back into the lineup. It’s quite possible we might just see the left tackle walk away instead.

New York Giants: Retirement not off the table for OT Nate Solder

New York Giants, Nate Solder

Nate Solder is one face that we haven’t seen this season for the New York Giants. While Solder was one of the most high profile additions when he joined the team, he chose to opt out of this season due to his son’s health problems with cancer. Obviously, Solder has been taking increased precautions with coronavirus because of that health situation. And for the most part, we haven’t heard from Solder since then.

The Giants have moved on the best they could. Andrew Thomas was drafted at Solder’s position and the offensive line has reached a stable spot right now, even without Solder. But will we see the tackle again, or will the Giants move on permanently after figuring things out without him this season?

Nate Solder uncertain on future

Based on what he’s said to the New York Post, it doesn’t look like even Nate Solder has all the answers about his future right now. We may see him suit up for the Giants again, or we may not. The decision hasn’t been made yet, but we do know from his own words that Solder is at peace with it if a return doesn’t happen and this does spell the end of his career.

“I feel like I’m in such a blessed position because I’ve had a window into what life after football is going to look like. If it ends like this, I really enjoy what I’m doing and the opportunities I have,” Solder said. He also said that his retirement won’t necessarily come right now, however. “That does not mean it’s going to happen now. It could be in two, three years. I have not made that decision yet.”

But he also claims that the time away hasn’t taken away his playing skills. He still has, in his words, the ability to physically perform at a high level.

“Mentally, I’m getting healthy and I feel strong, and I have some pieces together that I didn’t have at this time last year. I’m going to wait to see what happens and what the possibilities are,” Solder added.

Looking to the future

Solder’s time on the field with the Giants has been shaky as best so far and the team drafted a player in the top five to play his position this year. Even without opting out, it looked like the Giants were making eventual plans to move on. So, it won’t be that surprising if the Giants ultimately do decide beyond this season that sticking with their current offensive line is better than adding Solder back into the mix.

But nothing is set in stone yet. And until next year when things will likely go back to normal in the NFL and opted out players return, it’s hard to say just what the exact outcome will be. As for Solder, he’s already a two time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots. If he wanted to walk away right now, he can easily do so as a fairly accomplished player.

New York Giants Have $21M In Cap Space – Should They Spend It?

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have seen their salary cap space expand recently. The team had three players officially opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns, freeing up plenty of money for Big Blue. Nate Solder, Sam Beal, and Damari Scott were the three players who opted out.

Now, according to Field Yates of ESPN, the Giants have the twelfth-most salary cap space in the NFL post-opt-outs. New York is sitting with $21,441,129 in cap space available. That is a considerable amount of money, but Joe Judge made it clear this week that the Giants “don’t feel like [they] have money burning a hole in [their] pocket.”

Joe Judge indicated that the team was not planning on spending this money. But that was before DeAndre Baker’s prosecution became official and before Sam Beal opted out of the season. The Giants have a huge hole to fill at cornerback and they might be wise to reach into their pocket in order to fill that hole.

Why Should They Spend It?

If the Giants spend this money, they need to get a player in a serious position of need. The biggest weaknesses on this roster are at center and cornerback. But the Giants seem content with what they have at the center position, preparing Nick Gates to compete with Spencer Pulley and Shane Lemieux for that job.

The Giants have a few young guys at cornerback that could fill the role, but their inexperience could lead to a season full of struggles. Last year, the Giants rolled into the season with a young stable of defensive backs. Week after week, the team’s secondary was torn to shreds. The Giants would be wise to sign another veteran cornerback to their roster for the 2020 season.

There are some notable veteran cornerbacks available on the free-agent market. The biggest name is Logan Ryan, a former New England Patriot and Tennessee Titan. Ryan’s time spent in New England gives him a connection to Joe Judge. Other notable free-agent cornerbacks include Ross Cockrell (formerly of the Giants and then the Panthers, giving him a connection to James Bradberry), and Dre Kirkpatrick.

If the Giants were to sign Logan Ryan, he could provide a huge boost to the team’s defense. Ryan totaled 13 combined tackles, 8 quarterback hits, 18 passes defended, 4.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions. His sack total would have ranked second on the Giants in 2019. Ryan is versatile with the ability to play in the slot or outside. More importantly, Ryan has experience, something the Giants’ defense lacks.

Why Shouldn’t They Spent It?

If the Giants decide to pursue a player like Logan Ryan, he will not come cheap. Ryan is asking for over $10 million, which would just about cut their cap space in half. The Giants could hold onto their money and allow it to roll over into 2021.

New York also needs to get its younger players more experience. Signing a veteran cornerback would take valuable snaps and playing time away from younger guys, such as Corey Ballentine, Julian Love, and Darnay Holmes. Sometimes, the best way to learn is through experience. Failure can be a great teacher (see Dagobah scene in Empire Strikes Back).

These young defensive backs have plenty to learn, and much of it can only be learned on an NFL football field going against the toughest competition. These young guys are the future of the Giants’ defense. Getting them the live experience now will help them develop in the long run. After all, the Giants are a rebuilding team with plenty of young players. It might not be in the best interest of a rebuilding team to spend significant money on a 29-year-old cornerback.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones talks new offense and progress

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have reported to East Rutherford, New Jersey for NFL Training Camp. Among the many storylines surrounding the Giants is the progression of quarterback Daniel Jones.

Jones impressed in his rookie season under center for Big Blue. Across 13 games, 12 of which were starts, Jones threw for 3,027 yards while posting a 24:12 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Jones also ran for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

The Duke product is learning a new offense with former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett taking over as offensive coordinator under new head coach Joe Judge.

Jones finds Garrett to be “extremely detailed” (quotes are all courtesy of tweets by Giants.com’s Dan Salomone).

“He’s extremely detailed in his teaching and what he expects on the field.”

Jones says he and the Giants are taking training camp “day to day.”

“We’re taking it day by day, install by install, trying to learn [the offense] as quickly as we can.”

“My focus is on this camp and making sure I’m prepared mentally. … My focus is what we’re doing day to day here.”

Jones mentions how he has grown stronger.

“I feel like I’m as strong as I’ve been. … I wanted to get stronger.”

Jones’ receiving core is headlined by veterans Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard and the second-year Darius Slayton, who lead the Giants in receiving yards (740) and touchdowns (8) last season.

Jones commends what Slayton brings to the table.

“He’s a guy that comes to work every day and knows what to do…He can really get out and run, a big frame, a big target…I know he’s excited going into this year.”

The Giants have a lot of new faces on their offensive line: rookie tackles Andrew Thomas (4) and Matt Peart (99), rookie guard Shane Lemieux (150) and former Cowboys tackle Cam Fleming.

Veteran tackle Nate Solder, though, opted out of the 2020 NFL season. Jones supports Solder’s decision.

“He’s got an extremely tough circumstance. He’s got to do what’s best for him and his family. All the respect and support to him.”

New York Giants: Can Will Hernandez Bounce Back In 2020?

The New York Giants have consistently had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL for years. In recency, the team has put an emphasis on rebuilding the trenches. That all began in 2018. That offseason, the Giants signed offensive tackle Nate Solder. While that move has not proven to be the best, it was still the first shift towards rebuilding the offensive line.

Later that offseason, the Giants landed another key offensive lineman. In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants selected offensive guard Will Hernandez out of UTEP. Over the past two years, Hernandez has showed promise, but he has struggled to develop into the player he was expected to be.

Will Hernandez’s Promising Rookie Season

Will Hernandez had a promising rookie season. Many believed Hernandez would be off the board in round one, but the Giants were lucky enough to land him in the second. He definitely looked like a first-round prospect as a rookie.

According to Pro Football Focus, Will Hernandez, in 2018, ended eight of his 16 games with a pass-blocking grade over 70.0, and he allowed just 29 pressures from 664 pass-blocking snaps on the year. On 1,027  offensive snaps in 2018, Hernandez committed only two penalties, an impressive feat as a rookie.

A Shaky Sophomore Season

Also according to Pro Football Focus, Will Hernandez was actually a pretty good pass-blocker in 2019. But he struggled immensely as a run-blocker. His PFF pass-blocking grade was a 72.5, while his run-blocking grade was a 45.7. His overall grade was 58.4 as the second-year player out of UTEP played 1068 snaps in 2019.

Hernandez allowed only 2 sacks in 2019 on 728 pass-blocking snaps. That is down from the 5 sacks he allowed in 2018, but his overall grading was much better in his rookie season. As a rookie, Hernandez was still better as a pass-blocker than he was as a run-blocker. His pass-blocking grade in 2018 was 73.1 while his run-blocking grade was 62.9. Overall, his grade was 67.9.

Will Hernandez was not a liability on the Giants’ offensive line last year and he was far from the biggest problem on the line. Much of his struggles could be attributed to his surroundings. Hernandez was sandwiched between an offensive tackle (Nate Solder) that allowed 56 pressures and a center that struggled the entire season.

The Giants have seemingly upgraded at both left tackle and center entering 2020. This could allow Will Hernandez to return to his 2018 form and maybe even surpass that rookie performance. Additionally, the Giants have a new, talented offensive line coach to help Will Hernandez Develop. Marc Colombo did wonders with the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line while he was there, and he will likely help the Giants’ offensive line improve in 2020.

New York Giants: How Nate Solder’s Opt-Out Affects The Team’s Salary Cap

New York Giants, Nate Solder

In May of 2020, the New York Giants reportedly had less than $3.5 million in salary-cap space. That number has increased significantly with the latest news of offensive tackle Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 NFL season. But head coach Joe Judge also stated today: “We don’t feel like we have money burning a hole in our pocket.” Regardless of how Joe Judge might feel, the Giants’ salary cap situation has changed drastically due to Nate Solder’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season. How exactly does that decision affect the Giants’ salary cap in 2020 and ahead?

Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 season also has important implications for the rest of the offensive line. You can read about that HERE.

2020 Salary Cap

Exactly how much cap space did Nate Solder’s opt-out free up for the 2020 season? Here is what Jordan Raanan of ESPN reported on the topic today:

This is somewhat complicated. Solder was to count $19.5 million against the salary cap this season. He was to make $13 million, of which he already earned $3.1 million ($3 million roster bonus plus a $100,000 workout bonus).

It’s likely he will be classified as a “high-risk” opt out, making him eligible for a $350,000 stipend that will not be considered a salary advance. A source with knowledge of the salary cap confirmed to ESPN that this would leave the Giants with a cap savings of $16.05 million. – Jordan Raanan of ESPN

The Giants have freed up a significant amount of salary cap space in 2020. They could choose to spend that money or keep it as insurance, but it will not roll over into 2021.

2021 Salary Cap

Solder’s opt-out only frees up cap space for the 2020 season. This year’s salary will now be pushed to 2021. So if the Giants do decide to spend this additional money, it would have to be on a one-year deal.

Nate Solder’s contract was originally set to expire after the 2021 NFL season. Now, it will expire in 2022. His decision to opt-out might have extended his time with the Giants. Solder was a cut-candidate for next season due to his high salary and low dead cap hit. Now his salary cap hit in 2021 is $16.4 million with $13 million in dead cap.

The Giants’ new potential out in the Solder contract is in 2022. In 2022, Solder’s cap hit will be $22 million with only $6.5 million in dead cap. Ultimately, the Giants have gained salary-cap space in 2020 due to Solder’s decision to opt-out. But this decision actually inflates their salary cap numbers over the next two years. Regardless, it was the right decision for Nate Solder to make. His family’s health comes first. But it will be interesting to see how the Giants manage their salary cap with this new and unexpected development.

New York Giants: How Nate Solder’s Opt-Out Affects The Rest Of The Linemen

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

Major news broke out for the New York Giants yesterday as starting offensive tackle Nate Solder announced that he was opting out of the 2020 NFL season. Solder is a high-risk opt-out as he has a son fighting an ongoing battle with cancer. Nate Solder is doing the right thing opting out to protect his family and their health.

For the Giants, this news has major implications. Nate Solder’s absence in the 2020 season will create a huge shift along the offensive line. How exactly does Nate Solder’s opt-out affect the rest of the offensive linemen?

New York Giants OT Nate Solder Opts Out Of 2020 Season

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have had their first player officially opt out of the 2020 NFL season: offensive tackle Nate Solder.

Nate Solder announced today that he will be opting out of the 2020 season due to serious health concerns. Nate’s son, Hudson Solder, has been fighting an ongoing battle with cancer. Hudson is at high-risk if he were to contract the coronavirus. The Solder family has also welcomed a baby boy as a new addition to the family this spring. Nate Solder has eliminated certain risks by opting out of this year’s NFL season to protect his family’s health.

Nate Solder released this official statement on Twitter below:

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to numerous opt-outs across the NFL. Nate Solder is the twenty-sixth NFL player to opt-out of the season, the first member of the New York Giants to do so. Training camp began yesterday for the Giants. Players underwent their first round of COVID-19 testing and will continue to be tested until they are cleared to practice.

With this news, the Giants have lost one of their two starting offensive tackles. This leaves the door wide open for rookie Andrew Thomas to start immediately at left tackle in 2020. Solder opting out also frees up $19.5 million on the Giants’ 2020 salary cap. But the money does roll into 2021 and likely extends Solder’s career with the Giants.

Nate Solder’s opt-out could also have a ripple effect across the Giants’ offensive line. This creates even more uncertainty over who might start at both right tackle and center. Nick Gates could see himself take a starting role this season and rookie Matt Peart might now have a shot at the right tackle position.

Nate Solder’s family is the top priority. He has made this careful decision to protect the health of himself and his loved ones and he deserves respect and admiration for doing so.