There is a laundry list of free agency decisions the New York Giants need to make this off-season, and near the top of that list needs to be bringing back right guard Jamon Brown.
The New York Giants have some tough decisions to make this off-season. The league’s 2019 new year officially starts at 4:00 PM on March 13, which marks the end of player’s contracts that expired this year, as well as the start of free agency. The New York Giants have 25 players with expiring contracts this off-season, including players like Landon Collins, Aldrick Rosas, Zak DeOssie and Curtis Riley.
One player in particular that the front office should strongly consider re-signing is right guard Jamon Brown. Though the New York Giants continued with their offensive line struggles last season, Brown was instrumental in helping the unit rebound and improve their play in the second half of the season.
After being awarded off waivers during the bye week, Brown would immediately find a spot in the starting lineup. Remember, he essentially replaced Patrick Omameh, one of the handful of free agent misses by general manager Dave Gettleman in the 2018 off-season.
Omamaeh was benched and eventually cut by Week 8.
Now, I’m not saying Jamon Brown is an under-the-radar, elite-level NFL guard, but I am saying he’s a more than serviceable offensive lineman who can provide quality play in an area that this team desperately needs consistency and improvement.
Brown only graded out at a 51.7 last year according to Pro Football Focus, which had him ranked as the 64th best guard in the league. He committed eight penalties in eight games and gave up three sacks. His impact was seen more in the run game, as the New York Giants rushed for 5.0 yards per carry and averaged 128 yards on the ground per game in the second half of the season with Brown in the starting lineup.
Obviously, Brown doesn’t deserve all that credit, as a stronger commitment to the run game and the improved play of Nate Solder and Will Hernandez also greatly contributed to the second half surge in the run game. Nonetheless, Brown did have a positive impact on the front five that shouldn’t be ignored heading into 2019.
More from GMEN HQ
- Workout clip of Evan Neal training with former All-Pro OT has Giants fans excited
- NFL Draft Schedule of Events: How to Navigate Draft Weekend
- 4 NY Giants who must step their game up in 2023
- This SEC CB at No. 25 overall for the Giants is gaining steam
- When is the NFL Draft?
So, what happens if Brown doesn’t re-sign with Big Blue? For starters, the New York Giants are left with yet another question mark along the offensive line. As it stands, the major needs on the offensive side of the ball are at the center and right tackle position. Though it is expected that Jon Halapio will return in 2019 at center, durability issues and his general lack of experience doesn’t paint him as the long-term solution at the position.
Then, of course, the biggest need along the offensive line is right tackle, a spot that was filled by Chad Wheeler in 2018 who graded out as the 58th rated right tackle out of 61 qualifying tackles.
With all the injuries, new faces, and moving pieces over the last two years with this group, being able to bring back players who are capable of positively contributing on the field needs to be done. The New York Giants seem to be set at left tackle, left guard, and center for now, so being able to sure up Brown for the right guard spot allows the front office to spend money on other team needs.
Speaking of money, this is another reason bringing back Brown would make a lot of cents. The New York Giants don’t have the luxury of having fat wallets that can afford a spending spree this off-season, as their salary cap isn’t ideal heading into 2019. The general lack of salary cap space coupled with the insanely expensive state of the offensive line market makes signing average to above average hog mollies a bank-breaking task.
In a league being dominated by elite interior defensive lineman, teams aren’t afraid to spend – or overspend – on guys that might not deserve contracts they ink.
A perfect example of this is with former New York Giants Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg. Both were free agents following the 2017 season, and each were considered the top available free agents at their position, despite both being consistently injured.
Richburg signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers while Pugh inked his own rich deal of five-years for $45 million with the Arizona Cardinals. In 2018, Pugh only played in seven games due to injury, and Richburg had a nagging knee injury that severely impacted his play, as he finished the season as one of the worst-graded centers in the league.
The New York Giants were also victim of this overpaying offensive line market inflation when they signed a below average Patrick Omameh to a three-year, $15 million dollar deal like he was an above average starter.
If the front office is able to sign Brown to a minimal one or two year contract, you bring back an average guard with starter-level talent that can contribute to the offensive line rebuild. And if for some reason the New York Giants go a different direction with the right guard position, Brown would provide quality depth which is another area this group has lacked in recent years.
This situation reminds me a lot of D.J. Fluker last year. Fluker was brought in for 2017 and played in nine games while starting six, and was a more than serviceable guard who was an above average run blocker. Fluker would have been a great piece to bring back in 2018, but signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks instead.
At the end of the day, I’m not saying Jamon Brown is a long-term solution for right guard, but with the state of the New York Giants offensive line the last few years, being able to retain average or above average talent will go a long way. Bringing back Brown and Halapio would sure up four of the five offensive line spots, and would be a huge step forward for this group heading into 2019.
Over the next month, we will have to wait and see how the New York Giants will prioritize their off-season needs. Making an effort to bring back Brown would be a great sign that shows the offensive line is still a priority moving forward.