"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." That magical quote, in case you don't know, was from The Godfather III. Michael Corleone had the misconceived notion that he was out of the Mafia for good. Little did he know that fate had other plans in store for him. The same applies for you guys. Just when we finished up one series of Free Agency, we start another - only this one is geared towards who is out there that would be a good fit for the New York Giants. Mike Farley began this series yesterday. Today, we continue. Pay attention now. There will be a test afterwards.
We have already established that the Giants do not have a lot of money to work with in this offseason. There are some definite cutbacks that have to be made. In doing so, there will be some rather large holes to fill that will effect this team for years to come. Big Blue has been synonymous with the running game for, what seems like, an eternity. That simply was not the case this past season. As I touched on in the first episode of BBV-TV, the reason for the lack of a running game in the 2011 regular season was partially due to the backs and the offensive line.
Hitting the free agency this offseason is twelve-year veteran, Kareem McKenzie. It is becoming more of a lucid reality that McKenzie will most likely be cut. That leaves some very large shoes to fill. The most important thing for this Giants regime is to meet the primary needs of the team, in order to be successful and defend their shiny, new Lombardi Trophy. Right now, there is no need greater than that of the offensive line. Without a solid replacement for McKenzie, Eli Manning's Iron Man Streak is as good as gone.
The New York Giants' offensive line went through a number of shifts throughout the 2011 season. With Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara given their walking papers at the start of training camp, it was a necessary evil. Despite injuries and player shuffles, the line did seemingly well. However, there were some major differences. In 2010, the o-line gave up sixteen sacks and fifty-two quarterback hits. Last season, the line gave up twenty-eight sacks and seventy-two hits on Manning. A great Diehl of that came from the left side. "Let's get rid of him, too." That is not the answer.
If this theoretical scenario plays out and Kareem McKenzie gets the boot, who is going to fill his slot? Stacy Andrews is listed as the backup right tackle. Andrews was signed late last season in a desperate attempt to patch up the offensive line. He wound up proving, as in seasons past, that he is a magnet for injury. This time, however, he was sidelined due to health issues, not a physical injury. Andrews is also hitting the free agency market. Re-sign him? That's not the way to go. Getting back to the question, who fills in for McKenzie - in this scenario, we would play "musical linesman" once again. Here we go.
The one guy who was most versatile on the o-line last season was Kevin Boothe. His size, speed and ability parallel Kareem McKenzie's. Shuffle Boothe to fill in for McKenzie. This move makes good sense, as he has played this position before and seems to adapt well wherever you place him. What to do with Double D? Shuffle Diehl back to where he plays best, left tackle. Diehl is very intelligent. He is a true team player and he doesn't become a free agent until 2014. He is not going anywhere. "Who fills in for Diehl?" Enter my targeted free agent.
For this one, we travel down to Baltimore to scout out one of the league's best offensive linesman. Last season, he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. With price tags that guys like Ray Lewis are commanding, the chance of Ben Grubbs not getting the money he wants are favorable. Yes, Grubbs will be looking for a nice, juicy contract. But it is highly unlikely that he will be able to snag the bloated deal that McKenzie was getting with Big Blue. McKenzie had a reported seven-year deal at thirty-seven and a half-million bucks. Grubbs' contract, which is over and done with, was a five year contract at eight-million smackeroonies.
In case you didn't realize, the New York Giants' stock just went through the roof. They beat the best of the best to get to the Super Bowl. They came out victorious for the second time in four years. Eli Manning proved to be one of the absolute, top-rate quarterbacks in the NFL. Plus, they have a real nifty stadium that still has that new smell. The allure to play for the reigning Super Bowl champs that have a good chance at repeating is quite hard to resist. Throwing some money at Grubbs would not only be an extremely smart move to make, it would be an investment that would pay dividends for years to come.
Ben Grubbs will be going into his sixth-year in the NFL. He is a six-foot, three-inch - three-hundred and ten-pound, natural left guard. The Giants need a new addition to the left side. Grubbs is the ideal candidate for the job. The scenario would be Kevin Boothe at right tackle, Chris Snee at right guard, David Baas at center, Ben Grubbs at left guard and David Diehl at left tackle. That's a very solid line. It would also bring the age factor down a bit.
To bring Grubbs in would require careful structuring of a multi-million dollar deal. But there are plenty of players sitting around on this team, earning a decent sized paycheck, that could be cut in order to make such a deal possible. There will undoubtedly be some free agents who walk this offseason. Some of them are making a decent dollar.
There are a few key positions that absolutely, positively need some experienced players acquired and thrown into the Big Blue mix. With the possibility of Kareem McKenzie flying the coop, the offensive line is, more than likely, the single, biggest need. After all, the Giants have proved to be a high, flying aerial attack team over the last few years. Someone has to protect Eli Manning. Ben Grubbs is like All-State Insurance. Manning would be in very good hands.