Alarm bells went off Thursday when the New York Giants trotted out a starting offensive line missing four players they would be starters for them this season -- tackles Ereck Flowers and Will Beatty, center Weston Richburg and guard Geoff Schwartz. All but Beatty, who has a torn pectoral muscle, are expected back on the practice field soon -- perhaps even Friday.
Still, the offensive line configuration of Justin Pugh (LT), Adam Gettis (LG), Dallas Reynolds (C), John Jerry (RG) and Marshall Newhouse (RT) is one that would likely get even iron-man Eli Manning broken if the Giants had to use it in a regular-season game. So, let's look at the best available free-agent offensive linemen.
OT Jake Long
"Why haven't the Giants signed Jake Long yet?" That question has been a constant refrain among Giants fans ever since the news of Beatty's injury became public. Truth is, I don't know why. I do, however, know the situation.
Long has been to East Rutherford to visit the Giants twice, and was reportedly medically cleared to play by Giants' doctors on his last visit. Maybe the Giants want to sign the four-time Pro Bowler, maybe they don't. Reality is, they aren't driving the boat here. Long controls this situation, and he has options. The Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos have expressed interest, and perhaps a couple of other teams.
Long has choices, and he has time. He can wait for more training camp injuries, and he can wait for a team like the Giants or someone else to get desperate enough to offer him more money.
OG Evan Mathis
The former Philadelphia Eagles guard is still a free agent, and he still apparently wants a ton of money to play this year. He flirted with the New York Jets recently, but reportedly wanted too much money. The Miami Dolphins are apparently interested, but not unless Mathis drops his price tag.
Mathis is a left guard. The Giants might be willing to move Justin Pugh back to right tackle. I seriously doubt, though, that they would make a multi-million dollar offer to a guy who turns 34 this season.
RT Gosder Cherilus
The Ravens released Cherilus recently, and we talked about him a bit. The 31-year-old had a poor 2014 season, likely due to playing through injuries. He has, however, been a good right tackle for a number of years. If he is physically ready to go, Cherilus has to be an upgrade over what the Giants are trotting out at right tackle -- and what Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Robert Ayers are toying with.
OT Anthony Collins
The guy was a disaster in Tampa Bay last year (-12.9 PFF rating, 10 penalties in 643 snaps). Collins, 29, had a really good 2013 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
OG Rob Sims
A 31-year-old nine-year veteran who might be nearing the end of the line. He has 114 career NFL starts and hasn't missed a game in five years, however, and Giants fans should know there is value in that durability. If you want a stop-gap in the middle that would allow Pugh to slide out to right tackle, Sims might be the guy.
There are plenty of other players still on the market, just not a lot of other appealing options. Left tackle Sam Baker, guard/tackle Gabe Carimi, and ex-Giant Kevin Boothe are among other players on the market.