New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, who was coming into a pivotal year in his young career, has been a no-show since the start of the team’s voluntary offseason program and is not in attendance at the team’s voluntary three-day minicamp this week.
“He’s not here,” head coach Pat Shurmur said when asked about Flowers’ absence. “We understand that this is a program that is voluntary. I tend to believe it is very necessary, but he’s not here. So, when he is here, we will start to talk about him.”
Certainly, Flowers’ absence isn’t a good look considering he’s supposed to be competing for a starting job this year.
While there was never an official reason given for Flowers’ absence by the team—they’re not obligated to report on such matters with players given the voluntary nature of the offseason activities—let’s recap some of the recent events in the embattled offensive lineman’s Giants career that started out with so much promise only to slide down the tubes.
The Wrong Fit
In retrospect, Flowers was a wrong fit for the Giants not just on the field—remember, he was originally supposed to play right tackle before a pectoral injury to Will Beatty in Flowers’ rookie season forced the coaches to put the rookie in charge of Eli Manning’s blindside—but off it as well.
Normally, the offensive linemen are so tight that they have their lockers together. However, Flowers and Bobby Hart, with whom he was best friends on the team, weren’t part of that offensive line cluster.
While reporters only received about 45 minutes of daily open locker room access during the season, when Flowers was spotted, he was rarely spotted hanging out with his fellow offensive linemen other than for Hart.
According to an ESPN report, the two young tackles didn’t participate in the group’s Secret Santa tradition or several other traditional team gatherings such as Eli Manning’s annual dinner for the offensive linemen.
When Hart was cut before the final game of the season, the NFL Network reported that Flowers, who also didn’t play in the final game of the season, was benched due to concerns about his attitude, (though Flowers and then interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo claimed the tackle was inactive due to an ankle injury).
“Guys Who Hate to Lose”
Fast forward to 2018. Flowers, who needed to get off on the right foot with the new general manager and coaching staff if he was to convince the team to exercise the option year on his rookie deal by the May 3 deadline, suddenly is a no-show at the team facility.
The question is why. Was it the news of him having to compete at right tackle after enjoying the last three years of having a job handed to him? Was something said in the conversation he had with offensive line coach Hal Hunter? Was it something else?
No one from the Giants brass is sharing the details of conversations they’ve had with Flowers, But Shurmur did offer a hint of snappiness with the 23-year-old’s actions when he was asked about his decision to stay away.
“We understand that this is a program that is voluntary. I tend to believe it is very necessary, but he’s not here. So, when he is here, we will start to talk about him,” he said.
Absent a legitimate reason such as finishing classes, tending to a family matter or some other personal issue that was unavoidable—and one that presumably Flowers would have shared with the coaching staff— the optics Flowers is sending to the management is that he’s not a guy who, to quote general manager Dave Gettleman, “hates to lose.”
Given how last season ended, it would have been natural to assume that every player on last year’s roster who was a part of that 3-13 record would be champing at the bit to get started on erasing the bad taste of that season from their mouths.
Given the events over the last several months, reports about the Giants looking to trade Flowers, as first reported by the NFL Network, come as no surprise.
If both the Giants and Flowers have agreed to a divorce, it then makes complete sense for the offensive lineman to stay away from all team-run football activities because if he were to suffer an injury, any chance the Giants might have of moving him in a trade would go down the tubes.
Speaking of a Trade...
The next question is what Flowers, who has led the Giants in penalties in each of his first three seasons, might be worth.
Let’s be realistic; there is no way the Giants can expect to get a first-, second- or third-round pick for a young left tackle that at times has flashed talent but who has otherwise been the poster boy of inconsistency.
While some might think the Giants can move him for a seventh rounder, the Giants’ best bet to move Flowers might be to package him and a fifth-round draft pick in exchange for a fourth rounder from some left tackle needy team who is willing to give him a fresh start.
What About the Cap Hit?
Flowers is due to count for $4,579,219 against this year’s cap. His 2018 P5 (base) salary is fully guaranteed at $2,397,522, which would make him a very affordable acquisition for a NFL team needing an experienced left tackle.
The Giants, as of this writing, have $9,478,072 in cap space, per NFLPA records. Toss in the potential cap savings of $2,397,522 from moving Flowers, and that number increases to $11,875,54 in cap space.
Per Over the Cap, the Giants need $9,754,014 to sign their draft class, but only $6,974,014 in functional cap space since the rookies would knock guys who are currently at the bottom of the Top 51 highest cap figures out of it.
The added savings from Flowers if they’re able to move him would give the Giants a little more breathing room, even with the additional draft pick, which could also be used by Gettleman to move up in earlier rounds if he wanted.
If there is a silver lining to this who sad story, it’s that the Giants are finding out now and not after the draft, about Flowers and can potentially address it later this week.