Larry Warford had an excellent 2016 season for the Detroit Lions and has been a four-year starter for Detroit at right guard. Indications are, though, that the Lions might not be willing to pay the $10 million or more annually that it will probably cost to keep Warford.
If that is the case and Warford reaches the free-agent market, should the New York Giants be among his suitors?
Warford is a good player. He will be 26 next season, five years younger than the player who started at right guard for the Giants in 2016, John Jerry. He is also a better run blocker, ranked 16th in run-blocking by Pro Football Focus last season while Jerry was 48th.
Here are a few examples of Warford’s work:
Warford, though, figures to be expensive.
The New York Jets recently signed four-year veteran guard Brian Winters to a four-year, $29 million contract. Looking at that deal, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press wrote simply that “Warford is better.”
That means Warford could be seeking at least $10 million annually. Could the Giants afford to do that? Should they do that? Salary cap estimates for 2017 keep skyrocketing, with the latest reports being that the cap could rise above $170 million for next season. Spotrac’s current estimate, using $168 million for the projected cap, is that the Giants would have roughly $25 million to spend, putting them 24th in the league. That, of course, can change drastically in the next few weeks.
Still, the Giants have much to consider before spending big money on a guard. Can they re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul? What happens with Johnathan Hankins? If they pay Warford or another guard big money how does that impact Justin Pugh? He will play 2017 on a fifth-year option worth more than $8 million, unless he and the Giants hammer out a long-term deal. What about finding a left or right tackle?
Warford would appear to be an upgrade, and he is a natural fit because he has spent his career at right guard. Jerry, though, is an adequate player who would be less expensive. The Giants could also turn to the 2017 NFL Draft or give young players like Bobby Hart, Brett Jones or even Ereck Flowers an opportunity at that spot.
Not an easy call. How aggressively would you pursue Warford, Giants fans?