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Giants free agency rumors: Re-assessing the offensive line market

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What options are now available to upgrade the offensive line?

Louis Vasquez
Louis Vasquez
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency 2016 does not officially start until 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but a great deal has already happened, including a number of things that impact the New York Giants. Much of our focus has been on the re-signing of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and the many other rumors swirling about what the Giants may do to upgrade their defensive line.

Let's turn our focus to the offensive line. The Giants have three building blocks in Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, and Weston Richburg, and two question marks at right guard and right tackle. We correctly anticipated that the Giants would be active in seeking offensive line upgrades on the free-agent market, and reports indicate that they have been. The market, though, has changed dramatically since the "legal tampering" window began on Monday. Let's look at how it has changed, and what that does to the Giants' options.

Who's off the board?

Kelechi Osemele and Joe Barksdale, that's who. And, wow, those price tags! The money those two players will reportedly be getting is an indication that if the Giants want any of the top linemen still available they are going to have to pay. And pay dearly.

Osemele left the Baltimore Ravens for a five-year deal with the Oakland Raiders that reportedly maxes out at $60 million. That's left tackle money, the richest contract ever for a guy who has primarily played guard. The Raiders are paying him like a left tackle, and may actually use him there. Osemele has played guard and both tackle spots during his career.

Barksdale, a mid-level right tackle who has played for three teams in five NFL seasons, got a four-year, $22.5 million contract with $10.5 million guaranteed to remain with the San Diego Chargers.

Giants' options

Let's look at some of the top players available at guard and tackle.

Guard

Mike Harris -- This is a player we hadn't really thought of for the Giants until a report came out Monday that the Giants had expressed interest. A tackle until 2015, Harris was moved to guard and started all 16 games for the Minnesota Vikings last season. He is a 6-foot-5, 338-pound 27-year-old. Here is what Christopher Gates of SB Nation's Vikings blog, The Daily Norseman, said about Harris:

"Harris was a pleasant surprise for the Vikings last season. He was thrown into the competition at guard for Minnesota despite not having played the position "since Pop Warner," save for one appearance against the Buffalo Bills in 2014 that was necessitated by injury. The Vikings' offensive line had their struggles in 2015, but Harris was one of the better pieces of it. He started out as a much better run blocker than a pass protector, but by the end of the season had become equally adept at each.

"The Vikings reportedly offered Harris a 2-year deal with $3.75 million last week, which seems like it's a fairly low number for a guy that wound up grading out as one of the better guards in the league. It's tough to get a read on what the Vikings are going to do in free agency and the draft, but I'm surprised their offer to Harris wasn't higher. He could provide depth at several positions along the line (he got several starts at right tackle in 2014 after an injury ended Phil Loadholt's season), and if he wound up not winning the starting guard spot again, he would be a nice guy to have around. I think the Vikings would like to keep him, but it doesn't appear as though they're making him a priority."

Louis Vasquez -- An All-Pro in 2013 and a player who has started 101 of the 102 games he has played in during a seven-year career, Vasquez lost his job on Tuesday as part of a salary cap purge by the Denver Broncos. The Denver Post said that Vasquez is a natural right guard, a spot where the current Giant starter is John Jerry, but that Vasquez "struggled in coach Gary Kubiak's zone blocking offense."

Kyle Montgomery of SB Nation's Broncos website, Mile High Report, had this to say about Vasquez:

"It was mostly a cap move (nearly $7 million hit). The Broncos' OL underwhelmed last year, and Vasquez didn't step up and continue his All Pro play from 2013-2014. Broncos may have kept him if he was at around the $5 million number. Tough to say.

"It may have been a scheme misfit (new coach/coordinator) more than a talent lapse. Vasquez is only 28; I think he has a few good years left in him."

Here is a list of many of the best remaining interior offensive linemen:

For reference, here is our initial breakdown of the free-agent guard market. The view here is that players like Boone, Brooks and Allen continue to make sense if the Giants want to add an interior lineman.

Tackles

Aside from Barksdale and Osemele (if you consider him a right tackle) coming off the market, little has changed. The best unrestricted free agent right tackles are Mitchell Schwartz, Bobby Massie, and Andre Smith. To this point, Schwartz is the only one reported to have received interest from the Giants. Ryan Schraeder of the Atlanta Falcons is a restricted free agent carrying a second-round tender.

Here is our initial breakdown of the tackle market.