In a lengthy and well-thought out off-season blueprint for the New York Giants, Big Blue View's Jesse Bartolis laid out a plan that would have the Giants let guard Kevin Boothe go in free agency, spend big money to sign a right tackle and likely allow third-year man James Brewer to try and earn the left guard job.
Well, let me offer a different idea -- although one that is also a contingency for the veteran Boothe leaving in free agency. How about looking for a younger, under-the-radar offensive lineman in free agency who would not command a huge salary? One who maybe could be considered an up and coming lineman who hasn't had a full opportunity yet.
One such player is Donald Thomas of the New England Patriots. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Thomas, a sixth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2008, has 21 career starts at left and right guard for the Dolphins and Patriots.
Walter Football says the 27-year-old Thomas, who backed up Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins in New England "could be a starter on many teams."
Thomas received a +10.2 grade from Pro Football Focus while splitting his time between left and right guard in 2012. He had a solid +7.8 grade while run-blocking and allowed one sack. He had a pass-blocking efficiency score of 97.0 in 312 pas-blocking snaps. That is better than either Chris Snee (96.2) or Kevin Boothe (95.8), though Thomas did have 200+ fewer pass-blocking opportunities.
ESPN calls Thomas "a starting level player who won't break the bank on the open market."
In this scenario Brewer, Brandon Mosley, or a potential early-round draft choice like D.J. Fluker of Alabama, could take over at right tackle.