The New York Giants appear set on the left side of their offensive line with left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Justin Pugh, and center Weston Richburg. The right side? Not so much. Could Cleveland Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz be a player the team targets in free agency in an effort to solidify that side of the line?
With Will Beatty missing the entire 2015 season due to injury the Giants had to try and get by with journeyman Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. Newhouse may be an adequate swing tackle if needed to play occasionally, but with him forced to play every snap week in and week out the results were predictably unsatisfactory.
While Beatty is still under contract, the reality is the Giants need to plan for life without the veteran tackle. Beatty carries a base salary of $6.625 million and a cap hit after bonuses of $9.175million next season. The Giants will almost certainly ask him to take a pay cut. The expectation is that Beatty will refuse to do so and will opt to seek left tackle money in free agency. If that scenario plays out, the Giants will have to look to free agency or the 2016 NFL Draft to upgrade the right tackle position.
Would a Schwartz and Schwartz tandem be the answer to the Giants right side of the line? The Giants would likely first have to commit to keeping Geoff Schwartz, who has battled injuries and finished each of his two seasons in New York on injured reserve. If they do keep Geoff, pursuing Mitchell in free agency doesn't seem like such a far-fetched idea.
The 26-year-old was a second-round pick by Cleveland in 2012. He has started every game in his four-year career, all at the right tackle spot.
Pro Football Focus gives Schwartz a grade of 86.6, which makes him a Pro Bowl-caliber player in the PFF scoring system. PFF says:
"Although he did allow 43 total pressures this season, he also was tied for the most snaps in pass protection with a whopping 705; by comparison, only 15 tackles had more than 600 pass-block snaps. Schwartz has earned a positive overall grade in all four seasons, and is coming off the best season of his career. In addition, Schwartz has not missed a single snap out of 4,427 over his four years in the league."
A caveat with Schwartz comes from Football Outsiders, which believes that Schwartz benefits from playing opposite six-time first-team All-Pro Joe Thomas.
"(When the Browns can send help to an edge, the send it to Schwartz 80 percent of the time), but Schwartz more than held up in pass protection when he was left on his own too," wrote FOs Ben Muth.
A recent report indicated that initial talks between Schwartz and the Browns did not go well. Cleveland.com Browns beat writer Tom Reed believes the Browns "need to ensure Schwartz is off the market" before teams like the Giants get a chance to woo him.
If Schwartz is indeed a free agent when the signing period begins on March 9 is he a player you would like to see the Giants pursue?