Offensive line. Offensive line. Offensive line. Fixing that position group seems to be all that New York Giants fans want to talk about this offseason ... at least the ones who aren’t obsessing about how quickly the Giants can find a successor for Eli Manning.
With the 2017 NFL Combine continuing, NFL free agency less than a week away and the rumor mill spinning at a frenzied pace let’s get caught up with the latest word on the tackle market.
Another run at Russell Okung?
The Giants made a run at Russell Okung a year ago, but Okung eventually chose to sign with the Denver Broncos. He is a free agent again. The Washington Post reported recently that the Giants are among a group of teams who “will likely pursue a contract with” Okung once teams can officially negotiate with players on March 7.
The Post also reported that “There is a belief that Okung can get $10-12 million per season this time around, and there’s a possibility he could receive more if [Andrew] Whitworth returns to the Bengals.”
A year ago, it was believed that a sticking point between the Giants and Okung was the Giants’ desire to keep Ereck Flowers at left tackle. If they make a run at Okung this time, especially at the anticipated price, they would almost certainly have to be willing to allow Okung to play left tackle.
Ricky Wagner in line for big pay day?
If the Giants want to pursue a right tackle, perhaps the best one on the market is Ricky Wagner of the Baltimore Ravens. Wagner, however, is expected to “blow the lid off” the right tackle market in free agency.
Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles is the highest-paid right tackle at $11.25 million, but the Eagles have said in the past they paid him that because they believe he will eventually be their left tackle. Next in line is Bryan Bulaga at $6.75 million annually. Wagner will almost certainly blow Bulaga’s five-year, $33.75 million deal away.
He could be in line for as much as $10 million per year. That price tag is probably out of reach for the Giants.
Andrew Whitworth will dip his toes in the water
The 35-year-old left tackle, who has spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals, is expected to test the free agent market. The Bengals, though are said to be optimistic about retaining Whitworth, and there seems to be growing sentiment that Whitworth will most likely return to Cincinnati.
Whitworth’s venture into free agency could be a lot like dipping your toes into the ocean to see what the temperature is. Whitworth has stated a preference for remaining in Cincinnati. Perhaps what both he and the Bengals are doing is letting the rest of the league set the price tag. An interested team is probably going to have to blow Cincinnati out of the water financially to get Whitworth to change teams.
Riley Reiff talking with Lions
The five-year veteran finds himself in a nice spot in this free agent market. He can play both tackle spots, thus increasing the number of teams that might be interested in him. The Detroit Lions, with whom Reiff has spent his career to this point, have opened negotiations with Reiff.
Former sports agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry told the Detroit Free Press that Reiff should undoubtedly test the market:
"The Lions have to figure out what they’re doing with their offensive line cause they got two guys up and there’s one that should not re-sign without testing the market if he is going to come back and that’s Riley Reiff," said Corry. "To me, his best bet is trying to find someone who’s going to pay for his versatility or pay him to be a left tackle, cause left tackles and right tackles, it’s like apples and oranges financially."
Is Sebastian Vollmer an option?
The New England Patriots recently cut ties with Sebastian Vollmer, a starter for the Patriots from 2009-2015 who missed all of last season with shoulder and hip injuries.
Vollmer will be 33 next season but was one of the best right tackles in the league before the injuries. Will Vollmer be able to continue his career? Does he want to continue playing? It’s significant to note that when the Patriots released him on Friday they did so with a failed physical designation. He spent all of last season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
CSNNE had this to say about Vollmer:
Vollmer was strong in pass protection on the right side throughout his career, and he could be dominant in the running game. He was an integral piece to the team's Super Bowl run in 2014, and he gave the Patriots what they needed in 2015 by playing on the left side when both Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon were injured, and he remained there when Cannon returned.
If Vollmer wants to play and can pass a physical, would he be a short-term option for the Giants? At the very least, a player to bring to camp as competition?
There are two offensive tackles considered certain first-round picks. We have discussed both during the 2017 NFL Combine. In case you missed any of that, let’s get you caught up.
Before on-field workouts began, CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler said that Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin was the only offensive tackle in the 2017 draft class who was a guaranteed immediate starter. Now, there is word that some teams are questioning Ramczyk’s passion for football.
Meanwhile, Garett Bolles, the second tackle on most boards, performed so well at the combine that he may have risen out of the Giants’ reach.