New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has spent the majority of the offseason gushing over how “excited” he is about versatile offensive lineman Nick Gates. On Saturday he put his money where his mouth is, signing the 6-foot-6-inch, 318-pound, former undrafted free agent to a two-year extension.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo has reported that the two-year extension could max out at $10.325 million.
The #Giants have agreed to a two-year extension with OL Nick Gates, who started three games last year. The deal has a base value of $6.825 million and could max out at $10.325 million. A former undrafted free agent who spent his first year on IR, Gates cashes in.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 1, 2020
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Holes at Center, Tackle Make Gates’ Skillset Ever More Crucial
“We’ve got faith in Nick Gates,” Gettleman stated leading up to the NFL Draft, “Last year he made a lot of progress and we’re excited about him.”
Well, the Giants better be, because the more days that pass, the more it appears Gates is destined to lock down a starting gig across their offensive line.
Gates, who spent the majority of his rookie season in 2018 on the injured reserve, saw his first substantial NFL snaps in 2019, appearing in all 16-games with three starts, two at right tackle and one at right guard.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker performed admirably at both positions, posting an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 77.0 last season. However, he was the most effective while lined up at guard, where he saw his grade catapult into the low-80s. Gate’s stellar performance while playing on the interior has led the Giants organization to believe that he could potentially be their answer at yet another position, center.
While Gates hasn’t taken a single game snap at the center position during his playing career, he has apparently flirted with the position in the past.
“He did do some of that last year in practice, so it’s not completely new,” Gettleman said of Gates back in April. “Nick is smart. The thing you love about Nick is just how tough he is, because it’s a fist fight in there. There’s no doubt about that. History tells you that the toughness of your team is really, really indicated by the toughness of your offensive line. So, we’re always looking for that kind of piece. Nick would be in consideration at center, absolutely.”
Gates to Replace Nate Solder?
Not only is he in consideration to be the center, but the expectation around the league is that Gates is the favorite to land the starting gig in a competition that also includes the likes of Spencer Pulley and rookie Shane Lemieux. Noted by his inclusion in the Giants’ projected starting lineup, per PFF.
However, recent events may ultimately pull Gates from one competition to another. Nate Solder’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season has left a glaring hole at the tackle position for Big Blue. While 1st-round pick Andrew Thomas is expected to slide into Solder’s previous spot on the left side, the answer for who fills the void at right tackle remains unknown at this time.
Free-agent addition Cam Fleming and 3rd-round rookie Matt Peart are the current favorites to man the position. With that said, Fleming is a player that has never been more than a spot-starter over his six-year career and likely best served in a swing tackle role. Peart, on the other hand, is a “skinny” 315-pound specimen, with unlimited upside, yet somewhat of a developmental project.
In reality, Gates may offer the best combination of experience and upside at the position out the gates, no pun intended. Either way, it’s been evident from the start of the offseason that Gates is gearing up to be a prominent part of New York’s offensive line moving forward. The Giants’ willingness to extend Gates only further cements that sentiment.
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