The NY Giants simply don’t have enough cap space to take care of all their holes heading into 2020; penciling in Nick Gates as a 2020 starter would be a cost-effective solution.
As things currently stand, re-working the NY Giants offensive line to make sense on financial, competitive and cohesive levels is going to be an arduous task. One way Joe Judge and his staff can get a leg up is by penciling in Nick Gates as a 2020 starter and maybe even exploring an early contract extension.
I’ve been beating the Nick Gates drum longer than anyone, and I was more than thrilled to see him hold his own (and then some) when he was thrust into action (far too late) in 2019. Gates’ strongest suit is his versatility, as the coaching staff truly believes he can play all three offensive line positions.
Right now, the two guard positions are the only spots along the line that seem to be rock solid in terms of who will be holding them down in 2020. That leaves left tackle, center and right tackle as possible options for the former Nebraska Cornhusker.
Gates heads into next season only being owed 660K. Making him a starter would give Big Blue a ton of flexibility with what it can do with its available cap space and draft picks. For what it’s worth, the third-year pro more than showed he can play at the NFL level last year, as he accrued a 75.1 overall PFF grade and led the team with a 75.4 run-blocking grade.
Dave Gettleman would be wise to reach out to Gates’ agent and approach him about a contract extension. For reference, Spencer Pulley signed a 3/$8.2M extension last year with $2M guaranteed in a similar spot in his career to where Gates is now.
If Gates’ agent is smart he’ll demand a little more, but that’s a solid baseline. Even if Gates was to flame out, the financial ramifications would be minimal and the home run potential such a deal represents for the team makes this something that needs to be considered.
As an undrafted free agent, Gates likely would jump at the chance to put millions of dollars in the bank while working towards a bigger deal well before he turns 30 (he came into the league after his junior season).
Getting ahead of the curve like this is how we’ve seen numerous other savvy GM’s build-out functioning rosters and offensive lines. Hitting on a UDFA offensive lineman is a quick path back towards relevancy.
With one of the starters potentially making such a small amount of money, the NY Giants could actually really take a look at moving on from Nate Solder, too. The small cap hit Gates would command would surely help mitigate the $13.5M dead cap charge Solder would leave on the books, and I’m an advocate for having Solder nowhere near this team in 2020.
Overthecap.com actually gives Gates a higher valuation that Solder, anyway ($5.5M to $5.2M). Obviously, this would be a lot easier if Gettleman didn’t compound the initial Nate Solder mistake and stunningly choose to restructure his contract before last season, but it’s one of the only ways it becomes doable.
With Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler and Nick Gates (presumably at right tackle) penciled in as starters, the team could either draft a tackle or center in the first two rounds and look to lock the other spot up in free agency. This course of action would leave the team with many premium picks and tens of millions of cap dollars to fill the other holes the team has.
Nick Gates is not the end all be all, but it’s time for management to start using forward-thinking and maximizing its assets.
It’s not going to be easy to repair one of the worst offensive lines in football – that has the worst offensive line contract in all of football – but this would be a solid start.