If Kelechi Osemele wants to take the "aggressive" offer he apparently has in hand from the Baltimore Ravens and shop that on the free agent market should the New York Giants swim with the sharks in the deep end of the pool and try to reel in what would be one of the major prizes of 2016 NFL free agency?
Ravens G-T Kelechi Osemele expected to hit market at this point, according to sources, won't stay unless he becomes highest paid guard— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) February 29, 2016
Pro Football Focus ranks Osemele, a 6-foot-5, 335-pound guard/tackle, the No. 6 overall free agent and the best interior offensive lineman who could be on the open market. PFF isn't alone. SB Nation has Osemele No. 13 on its list of the top 100 free agents. NFL.com has Osemele No. 10, and says "If your team needs a run blocker, Osemele is easily the best name on the market." Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has Osemele at the fourth-best free agent available. He writes:
He has been a productive starter at guard, but has also started at tackle. He would be a nice upgrade for a lot of teams, but the price could be high.
The Giants, as anyone who follows them knows, have a pair of open spots on their line. Those would appear to be at right guard and right tackle, unless the Giants are once again willing to shuffle Justin Pugh to another position after he spent 2015 mostly at left guard.
Make no mistake, the Ravens do not want to lose this versatile 27-year-old. Here is Ravens' coach John Harbaugh on the deal the organization offered Osemele:
"It's a really aggressive deal. I think it shows a lot of respect for K.O. It shows them that we really want him here and I hope he takes it. I hope he says, ‘You know what? I know what the Ravens are all about. I know they believed in me. I know what kind of football they want to play and I feel like I'm a part of this thing for a long time like Marshal Yanda's done.' "
The Ravens are apparently also offering Osemele the carrot of playing left tackle, where he filled in for a few games last season. That's something the Giants, who appear committed to giving Ereck Flowers time to continue to grow into that job, likely wouldn't offer him.
What the Giants do have to offer, though, is a pile of cash. The Giants have $57.74 million in salary cap space, fifth-most in the league. The Ravens are the most cap-strapped team in the NFL with only $6.52 million in cap space. The highest-paid guard in the league right now, in terms of annual salary, is Logan Mankins of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at $8.5 million annually. The highest-paid right tackle, again in terms of annual salary, is Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles at $11.252 million.
With the salary cap having exploded from $143.28 million last year to $155.27 million this season, and with the market for Osemele's services expected to be intense should he reach free agency, Osemele is expected to command $10 million or more annually.
Should the Giants reach that deep into their pockets for Osemele?