It seems unlikely that Madison Hedgecock will return to the New York Giants in 2011. Bear Pascoe, a tight end by trade, did an adequate job replacing Hedgecock at fullback a season ago, and as things stand with the Giants roster right now Pascoe seems heading toward becoming a full-time fullback.
If Pascoe plays fullback, the Giants would seem to still need a blocking tight end. If, however, the Giants could find a fullback via free agency whenever the market opens, Pascoe could fill that role.
Enter Vonta Leach. The 29-year-old Houston Texans fullback, an All-Pro in 2010, will be a free agent. The Texans want Leach back, but he reportedly wants to be the league's highest-paid fullback and Houston might be reluctant to pay that price.
Would the Giants be willing to do it? That, of course, remains to be seen. It is, however, worth considering.
Let's remember that the Giants have tried to get the 6-foot, 246-pound roadgrader of a fullback before. Back in March of 2007 the Giants signed Leach, then a restricted free agent, to a four-year, $8 million offer sheet. The Texans chose to match, and the Giants were fortunate to pick up Hedgecock early that season after the St. Louis Rams let him go.
Leach, a seven-year veteran, was voted All-Pro for the 2010-2011 season for his work helping to clear the way for Houston's Arian Foster to amass 1,616 yards rushing in 13 games.
Let's acknowledge that one of the complaints about the Giants offense for years has been an inability to consistently convert in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Having a tight end playing out of position at fullback, even though he did a representative job, and not having a true blocking tight end, have to be among the reasons for that difficulty.
Wouldn't Leach at fullback and Pascoe at the second tight end slot have a better opportunity of clearing space than Pascoe at fullback and Travis Beckum trying to block somebody in short yardage?
Leach was the No. 3 ranked fullback in the NFL a season ago, according to Pro Football Focus. His overall grade was +5.2. He had a down 2009, finishing with a -7.4, but in 2008 his +11.4 was second-best among fullbacks in the league. During that 2008 season Hedgecock was -4.1, according to PFF. Pascoe's 2010 grade at fullback was a respectable -1.3, good work for a guy playing a position for the first time.
Would the Giants be willing to pony up big money for Leach? I don't know that. What I do know is this is a position where the Giants could use help, and no fullback on the market offers more of it than Leach.