Kevin Zeitler will have a long list of suitors if, as expected, the Cincinnati Bengals allow the 27-year-old right guard to reach free agency in March. Should the New York Giants, with a need to upgrade their offensive line and an opening with their own right guard, John Jerry, eligible to be a free agent, be among those suitors?
That depends on how much the Giants believe a guard is worth, and how much of the $33 million or so they will have to spend in free agency they believe they can allocate to the position. The Giants will already be on the hook for more than $8 million to left guard Justin Pugh, who is set to play the 2017 season under his fifth-year option.
Zeitler, a five-year veteran who turns 27 on March 8, will likely give himself an excellent birthday present on or around March 9 when free agency begins. He is considered by most to be the premier guard eligible for free agency, with Walter Football calling him “one of the jewels of the 2017 NFL free agency class.”
Kelechi Osemele, who got a five-year, $58.5 million deal with $25.4 million guaranteed from the Oakland Raiders a year ago, is the league’s highest-paid guard. Zeitler is expected to threaten or exceed that total. Spotrac’s Market Value Tool estimates Zeitler’s worth at $58.1 million over five years, or roughly $11.6 million annually.
One thing to consider with Zeitler is the zone blocking scheme used by the Giants. There are few places to get pro scouting reports on current players, but The Scouting Academy run by former scout Dan Hatman does showcase reports written by its students. In a report based on a study of games in 2015, a Scouting Academy student wrote that Zeitler “will struggle is used predominantly in a zone scheme as he does not have the foot speed or quickness necessary to execute blocks consistently.”
How you value that report is, of course, entirely up to you.
Signing Zeitler, of course, would not address the Giants’ primary need on the offensive line. That, as has been well-established, is at the tackle spot where Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart were responsible for 105 pressures of Eli Manning. Signing Zeitler, though, would add a talented player in his prime to the offensive line.
Does the thought of Zeitler to the Giants, even with the hefty price tag, interest you?