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Big Blue View mailbag: Saquon Barkley, offensive line dominate questions

The mail’s here!

Only one more day before the New York Giants open their 2021 season against the Denver Broncos. With that as backdrop, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what is on your minds.

Michael Carroll asks: OT Ricky Wagner. Any reason why we haven’t added this guy to our roster? We added 3 IOL for depth behind Gates, Hernandez and Lemieux but are OK going into the season with only 3 OT? All of whom struggled in the preseason? Wagner is a proven veteran and played well for GB last year. Maybe there’s another reason he’s unsigned? But if he’s healthy and everything checks out then he only makes our OL better, which should be the priority this season.

Ed says: Michael, Rick Wagner is probably an average to slightly better than average right tackle at this point in his career. Why isn’t he a Giant? Well, why isn’t he on anybody’s roster right now? If I’m Wagner, at 31 and after eight years in the league, I sit there and wait for the right opportunity. That’s probably on a good team almost certain to make the playoffs where I walk in, get to start right away, and get paid handsomely.

That’s not the Giants. Plus, let’s be realistic about the money. Nate Solder carries a $9.5 million cap hit this year. After all their re-structures and injury settlements, Over The Cap shows the Giants with just $3.281 million in remaining cap space for 2021. What money are they going to use to sign Wagner?

I just don’t think a Wagner-Giants marriage makes sense.

George Wallace asks: Washington more critical game than Week 1 Denver. Wouldn’t it make sense to sit Barkley Week 1 for Week 2 vs. Washington and [have] extended rest for Week 3?

Ed says: George, don’t EVER tell an NFL head coach that the next game on the schedule [in this case, Sunday vs, the Denver Broncos] isn’t the most important athletic competition of all time.

Listen, I understand where you are coming from. Washington is a division game and a conference game, so it ups the ante. The Giants, though, have no margin for error. They can’t pick and choose and play one game as more important than another. They need to put their best foot forward every week.

As for Barkley, I will be shocked if he has a heavy workload or plays a high volume of snaps on Sunday. I would expect 8-10 touches, mostly in spots where the Giants think they can get him in the open field. With a limited workload, I would think they would also hope to have him Thursday vs. Washington.

Ed says: Ben Bredeson and Billy Price (53-man roster), along with Matt Skura and Korey Cunningham (practice squad) were all brought in for depth. You’re not going to see some sort of massively overhauled offensive line start on Sunday.

We know Nate Solder has supplanted Matt Peart at right tackle. That said, I’m sure we are going to see a rotation at that spot with Peart getting plenty of playing time.

We might also see some of Bredeson at left guard. Shane Lemieux is not on the injury report, but he does have a partially torn patellar tendon. How much he can play, and how effective he can be, is something we will have to find out. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Bredeson gets some snaps vs. the Broncos.

Ed says: No. The Giants have already exercised Saquon Barkley’s fifth-year option at a cost of $7.217 million against the salary cap. The Giants would not have picked up that option if there was any question that they wanted him on the 2022 roster. What happens long-term is uncertain, but I think that after what happened with Odell Beckham Jr. that John Mara is going to want Barkley around long-term.

Billy Pilgrim asks: In an offensive oriented league where “almost” every team lights up the scoreboard, why is it that the Giants are an outlier year after year? They make scoring look painfully hard. In your perspective can you break down by percentage who is to blame for this?

Also I see in your roundtable that only Joe picked the team to play better than .500. I totally agree with this. I don’t think you can expect a team to play better than .500 football, let alone .500 when your QB doesn’t throw for TD’s and produce points, isn’t a playmaker and has a high turnover to TD ratio. How many wins do you think this team would get if it had a back end top third tier QB like Stafford?

Ed says: Billy, I don’t think it is anywhere near correct to say that almost every team in the NFL lights up the scoreboard. In terms of points per game, only the Green Bay Packers (31.5) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30.8) averaged 30 or more points last season. Fifteen teams averaged 25 points or better. Four teams, including the Giants, averaged less than 20 points per game.

In 2019, the Giants were 19th in the league in points per game and in 2018, they were 16th. So, basically league average. Your “outlier year after year” comment is the frustration of losing games talking. It’s not a realistic comment on the team’s offense.

Now, there is no doubt the Giants need to score more than the 17.5 points per game they did last year. I have said many times that if they can get to that league average mark of about 25 points per game, play defense as well as they did a year ago and have a solid kicking game they have a chance to be a good football team.

I tend to think our Round Table predictions are having been burned too many times by being overly optimistic, and wanting to be cautious or conservative.

Yes, a team need a good quarterback to be a consistently good team. Let’s see what Daniel Jones does this year. We should know by the end of 2021 whether not Jones can be that top-third of the league quarterback.