After sitting in free agency for less than a week following his release from the Giants, guard Kevin Zeitler has found himself a new home with the Baltimore Ravens. With Zeitler and the Ravens having struck the deal Sunday night, insiders broke the news early in the morning.
Former Giants’ G Kevin Zeitler reached agreement on a three-year, $22.5 million including $16 million guaranteed with the Baltimore Ravens, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2021
After his two seasons with the Giants came to an abrupt end due to the new salary cap restrictions, Zeitler returns to the AFC North after being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 before eventually signing with the Cleveland Browns on the five-year, $60 million deal that made him the highest paid guard at the time.
In need of a starting caliber right guard after the retirement of franchise icon Marshall Yanda prior to last season, the Ravens turned to arguably the best guard prospect left in the free agent pool following the news of Andrew Norwell’s contract restructure with Jacksonville. Zeitler now joins an offensive line that returns 2019 First-Team All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley from an Achilles tear, and (barring a shocking trade as per his request) 2019 and 2020 Pro Bowler tackle Orlando Brown Jr., all in front of 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
Meanwhile, the Giants must determine what route to go with the hole at right guard left by cutting Zeitler to open $12 million in cap space. Shane Lemieux played in spots for the Giants last season, but he was inconsistent and only earned a 32.2 Pro Football Focus overall grade on 504 snaps played. Veteran guard options like Gabe Jackson, the recently-unretired Kyle Long, Trai Turner and Richie Incognito may provide solid starter quality play for relatively cheap, but the Giants will need to make the cap room and have stressed upgrading the O-Line since Dave Gettleman took over in 2018.
A possibility is that the Giants may opt to draft an interior lineman, as many great and serviceable options can be found at different points in the draft. Should the Giants value protecting Daniel Jones above all else, Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater has become an increasingly viable option for the Giants at No. 11. Later in the draft, someone like Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis or Alabama’s Deonte Brown could provide starter quality play on mid-round deals.