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NFL free agency 2020: Patriots’ Ted Karras Giants’ answer at center?

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens
Ted Karras
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The New York Giants could use help at center. Jon Halapio was a below-average starter who tore an Achilles tendon in the season’s final minutes. Backup Spencer Pulley could be a cap casualty. Nick Gates has never played the position.

Could the Giants turn to the New England Patriots for help? Let’s talk about Ted Karras, a full-time starter at center for the first time in his four-year career in 2019 who could become a free agent in a few weeks. Might Karras be a player who interests the Giants?

The basics

Age: 27 during 2020 season
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 305
Position: Center
Experience: 4 seasons
2019 stats: Games: 15 (all starts) | Snaps: 1,040
2019 base salary: $720,000 | 2019 cap hit: $720,000

Pro Football Focus: Overall grade: 64.5 | Pass blocking: 57.8 | Pass blocking efficiency: 98.6 (ninth among 29 qualifying centers) | Sacks/Pressures: 2 sacks, 14 total pressures allowed in 582 pass blocking snaps | Run blocking: 65.8 (13th among 32 qualifying centers)

The skinny

A sixth-round pick out of Illinois in 2015, Karras was a valuable backup for New England at center and guard during his first three NFL seasons. In 2019, he started the entire season after David Andrews was placed on injured reserve due to a pulmonary embolism.

With Andrews “pretty optimistic” that he will return in 2020, Karras could head to free agency to seek a starting job.

The Giants, with a new head coach from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, might just be in position to give him one.

Here are a couple of quotes that tell you what the Patriots think of Karras:

From Bill Belichick:

“Ted’s been a solid guy for us since he’s been here, one of the most consistent players probably on our team,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during his press conference Wednesday. “Comes to work with the same great attitude every day, works hard, whatever you ask him to do – weight room, classroom, walkthroughs, practice, scout team. He always works hard. He’s always ready to go. He always gives his best.”

From offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia:

“Ted’s always done what we expect him to do,” Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said in September. “He knows the system. He’s been raised in the system. I think he always prepares himself to play. We could not be any more fortunate than to have a guy like that who can play all three of those positions and the wheels don’t come off the offense. Ted’s another guy that – just like a lot of guys we’ve had around here, he’s a good worker. He’s a tough guy. He’s got character.

“And, yeah, maybe he doesn’t have quite the skill of some guys, but you’re going to get everything this guy has. That’s all we care about.”

Here’s what Bernd Buchmasser of SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit told me about Karras:

“When David Andrews was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs, the Patriots had to turn to Ted Karras to take over as their new starter. Luckily for the team, he brought considerable experience to the table after having seen somewhat regular playing time — albeit as a package-specific backup — through his first three years in the league and having started five games. Karras added 16 more to his résumé in 2019, missing one game because of a sprained MCL. All in all, the 26-year-old filled in admirably for Andrews. While a downgrade especially as a run blocker, he competed well and also held his own in the passing game: playing a combined 1,101 of a possible 1,210 offensive snaps (91.0%), Karras surrendered just one sack and 12 total quarterback pressures.

“When it comes to his free agency, the fate of Patriots left guard Joe Thuney might very well have an impact on Karras: while there is a chance Karras receives a starting contract from another team and leaves New England, the Patriots could also opt to bring him back as the heir to Thuney’s position. If Thuney is re-signed to a hefty contract, however, it seems unrealistic to expect New England to be competitive for Karras’ services. Add the fact that David Andrews’ medical status could also have an impact on how the team approaches Karras, and you can see that all options appear to be on the table.

“As for the Giants, Karras might be an attractive free agency target: while his ceiling is lower than that of Thuney, for example, he does have starting experience and versatility, and would still likely not command top dollar.”

Your thoughts, Giants fans?