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Giants’ Andrew Thomas glad to have security, but still has more to prove

Thomas received the highest guarantee ever for an offensive lineman

New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings
Andrew Thomas
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The New York Giants locked up another franchise cornerstone on Wednesday, signing left tackle Andrew Thomas to a five-year, $117.5 million contract extension with $67 million fully guaranteed. The move keeps one of the NFL’s best tackles in New York for another seven years.

Whether Thomas would sign an extension this offseason was unclear. He could have chosen to wait another year and maximize his earnings as other tackles would potentially top the market first. However, he had a key reason for getting the deal done now.

“When the staff came to me about getting something done, my team and I, we were eager to get something done, just for security,” Thomas explained. “There were different negotiations, but at the end of the day, we decided to do what was best for me and my family (and) we decided to go with this deal.”

Thomas pointed to his history of ankle issues as a potential risk in waiting to get a deal done. The guarantees in the deal will give him some security against injuries, especially in the trenches, where players fall on each other all the time.

On having the largest OL guarantee

Thomas is grateful to have earned the largest amount of guaranteed money for an offensive lineman, surpassing Ronnie Stanley’s $64 million. “Like I said, it’s a blessing. (It’s) something that I worked hard for and something that I’m going to continue to work hard for to live up to that,” he said. “It’s a blessing for my family (and) my kids that I don’t even have yet, but I’m excited for it and excited to be here for a while.”

On his journey to get to this point

Thomas endured a rough rookie season with the Giants. He weathered the tremendous pressure of being the No. 4 overall pick in New York and bounced back with a strong sophomore campaign. In 2022, his third season, he established himself as a premier blindside protector, earning second-team All-Pro honors.

Thomas views his bumpy ride as a character builder. “It’s what I’ve been through, (the) different staffs, ups and downs as a player and honestly, it’s the same mentality,” he remarked. “Obviously, I’m paid now, I’m secure now, but I’m still working the same approach (as) when I wasn’t performing well, and people didn’t think I deserved to be here, so that’s the same approach that I have now.”

As Evan Neal goes through many of the same difficulties that Thomas did, the left tackle is doing what he can to help his linemate. Thomas stated that the two bounce ideas off each other and discuss different techniques. He thinks Neal is going to be a good player.

On the Giants’ organization

Thomas singled out the young core of players with the Giants as one of the things he’s excited about with the organization. He also lauded the staff.

“I said it last year in a few interviews (that) this is the most fun that I’ve had playing football in a long time,” Thomas said to summarize his love for the team. “I’m excited to be a part of this organization and hopefully we can do some special things.”

Having his teammates locked up along with him is a big plus for Thomas, particularly since they’re leaders and team captains. He is particularly excited to continue playing with Daniel Jones, commenting, “We’ve been through some tough times together and just to see him grow into the player that he is and knowing the potential that he has. I definitely want to be a part of that.”

However, Thomas deflected questions about Saquon Barkley’s contract situation, saying that he can’t control that. He did praise Barkley’s explosiveness, though.

On the team’s 2023 outlook

As Brian Daboll has reiterated, the new season is a fresh slate from 2022. Thomas echoed that sentiment, highlighting better divisional play as one of the focal points of 2023. He stated that offensive line play is one of the most important improvements for the Giants to make to close the gap with the Eagles.

“If you watch a lot of Philly’s games last year, they dominated on both sides with their front seven,” Thomas noted. “I think we close that gap being more dominant in the trenches (and) being able to protect DJ to allow him to make the throws that he needs to and on the opposite side of the ball, our defenders putting pressure on the quarterback. I think that changes the outcomes of games.”

On the pressure of a new deal

Thomas invoked his need to prove himself as a rookie to explain his current mindset. When he wasn’t playing well and people were doubting him, he felt the need to show what he could do; that is still the case with a long-term contract. He takes the same approach and tries to block out the outside noise.

About whether he sees himself as the best left tackle in football, Thomas conceded that although his mindset is that way, he still has room for improvement. “Just going back and watching film (from) last year, there’s definitely some things that I can clean up to be a more dominant player to have that title but I’m still working every day to get there.”

Thomas is confident that Jones feels the same way about having a new deal. “DJ is one of the hardest-working guys in the building. I don’t think – whatever his contract was, I don’t think that would’ve changed him (or) how he approaches (the game) every day. I think that’s what makes him a good quarterback and a chance for him to be a really great quarterback.”

On Year 2 with the coaching staff

Thomas said that things are a bit different in the second year with the coaching staff. The team isn’t doing Day 1 installs of the offense the same way, as they know what Daboll expects of them.

However, although he said that the offense is playing faster, Thomas cautioned that every day with Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka is a challenge. “Even though we’ve learned a lot of the install and stuff like that, Kafka and Daboll do a great job of creating new plays, different motions (and) different things – eye candy for the defense. Just trying to get the guys the ball in space to make plays, so that’s exciting for us and it keeps us on our toes.”

All in all, Thomas and the Giants are equally excited to be in business for the long term. With training camp opening today, the team has its quarterback and blindside protector locked up and can now focus fully on football.