The Giants’ offensive line appears to be 80 percent complete. Left tackle Will Beatty signed a long-term deal earlier this offseason, veterans Chris Snee and David Baas are coming off surgeries but expected back at right guard and center. And today the Giants agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent Kevin Boothe to return, presumably as the starting left guard.
That leaves just one of five spots on the starting line open: right tackle. It’s a job that Sean Locklear settled into in 2013 until he injured his knee in December. The Giants have several options at the position. David Diehl could return and play there. Third-year player James Brewer seems to be at a now-or-never point in his development. Or they could draft the position and plug a rookie in. The Giants haven’t had a rookie offensive lineman step into a starting role since Snee in 2004. That was Tom Coughlin’s first season with the Giants too. Ostensibly a first-round pick with the 19th overall selection at tackle should be able to handle that responsibility, especially with a cagey veteran like Snee beside him as a mentor.
Boothe’s one-year deal also points to more changes down the road. He’ll obviously be a free agent again next year. Diehl is entering the last year of his contract unless he wrangles an extension (or a voidable year) as some part of a reworking of his contract. Snee has hinted at retirement. Baas is under contract until 2015, but his base salaries beyond this season are $4.75 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015 (compared to the $1.25 million base he’s due to get in 2013). That leaves a lot of potential holes moving forward. Beatty seems to be the only one whom the Giants can reasonably count on to be playing on their offensive line by the 2015 season. And while 2015 sounds like a long way off, it ain’t.
So it might be smart for the Giants to pick a couple of offensive linemen at the top of this year’s draft and let them at least absorb the veteran knowledge accumulated in the room for a year or so before turning the jobs over to them. And if you are spending a 19th overall pick on a lineman, well, you’ll want him to play.
So there we are.
Oh, and just as a side note: I don’t know what the full terms of Boothe’s deal are going to turn out to be other than a one-year contract. It could very well be the veteran’s minimum, which is what the Giants have been paying most of their players. For a player entering his eighth season that would be $840,000. Consider that the last time Boothe was a free agent, before the 2011 season, he signed a two-year deal for $2.5 million and before that he was tendered as a restricted free agent in the upcapped year at $1.176 million. And all of those were done when he was a backup. So basically, in his first contract as a starting player, Boothe will likely have to take a pay cut and certainly not get the security of a long-term deal he was hoping for. Talk about a market crash.