Last year, it seems that many New York Giants fans couldn’t wait to get rid of anyone associated with former general manager Jerry Reese.
As we move into the second year of the rebuild, fewer Reese draft picks populate the New York Giants roster. That’s obviously the nature of the NFL, and Gettleman has mostly gotten it right with his decision-making with what was left from the former general manager’s tenure.
One area where Gettleman excelled was in addressing pending unrestricted offensive line free agents, who were Reese holdovers.
Full marks to Gettleman for keeping his hand in his pocket when both center Weston Richburg and guard Justin Pugh were primed to hit free agency last year. Because of the New York Giants offensive line problems, there was probably hesitation in seeing Pugh walk away. Most of the fanbase seemed to like Pugh, and the Syracuse product was moved around a good bit with the G-Men to his detriment.
Pro Football Focus indicates that Pugh played in 1,027 snaps as a rookie in 2013, and that was his high-water mark. In his last season with the New York Giants, Pugh played just 436 snaps, and with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, he played only 343 snaps.
In fairness, he showed up to play each week, but continued injuries are his downfall. Back problems for an offensive lineman are a definite red flag, and he encountered those in his tenure in New York.
Hopefully, Pugh can make the knee and hand injuries that impacted him in 2018.
His grades have varied, and to be fair, he was been moved around the offensive line regularly. But he did go from very good to serviceable to bad. He played to a 50.7 PFF grade last season with the Cards.
There were high hopes for Richburg when he was drafted out of Colorado State in 2014. Those hopes never really panned out to a point where Richburg was considered an untouchable along the offensive line.
Richburg was a bit more durable than Pugh, playing in over 1,000 snaps per season from 2014-16. He played only 241 snaps in 2017, due to a concussion that had him placed in injured reserve. That seemed to fracture the relationship between Richburg and the New York Giants.
Whereas, Pugh was at least an option to return, Richburg never seemed to be on the team’s radar. The G-Men were obviously going in another direction.
According to Spotrac, Richburg signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers last March. In 2018, at center, combined the New York Giants paid Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley $1 million. That’s quite a difference.
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PFF graded Richburg a 51.9 for the season, while Pulley had a 55.9 grade. Due to injury, Halapio played in just 116 snaps with a 69.4 grade. In terms of bang for the buck, Gettleman again got it right. Halapio could trend into a full-time center, and at the very least, Pulley looks to be a capable back-up.
As far as guard, Gettleman was correct in not bringing back Pugh, especially in light of the five-year, $44.8 million contract he signed with Arizona. All was not roses at the position, however, as Gettleman did ink Patrick Omameh to a three-year, $15 million pact.
The veteran guard didn’t last one season in New York.
Per Spotrac, Omameh will cost the New York Giants $3 million in dead cap space in 2019. Omameh received a 51.9 grade in just six games with the G-Men, and then returned to Jacksonville after the Giants cut him. Through and through, it was a bust.
Finally, poor offensive line play over the past several seasons obviously has the fanbase grasping for straws. For example, there was clamor that Gettleman made a mistake by not bring back mammoth D.J. Fluker to compete for a guard spot.
Fluker went on to ink a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. He then went onto play 662 snaps with Seattle, but with a lousy 49.2 PFF grade. He came cheaper than Omameh, but grade-wise, he was also worse. Can’t fault Gettleman on that one either.
Not getting the team’s salary cap encumbered through bad contracts is certainly a start. Now Gettleman has to bring in a few more productive offensive lineman in order to take a step forward in 2019.