The New York Giants‘ offensive line is a major question mark heading into the 2022 NFL regular season – as has been the case for the past decade with this team.
With limited salary cap space to maneuver with, first-year general manager Joe Schoen did what he could to shore up the depth on this unit in free agency by bringing in a number of veteran pieces including Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, Matt Gono and Max Garcia. Schoen and the Giants then went ahead and selected right tackle Evan Neal at No. 7 overall in the NFL draft, and grabbed guard Joshua Ezeudu in the third-round as well.
But as the Giants have learned in recent years, you can never have enough offensive linemen, which is why they must continue to survey the market in case an opportunity arises.
One intriguing name that’s still out there, who Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine recently pegged as a potential fit for the Giants, is free agent center J.C. Tretter.
Tretter started all 80 games he appeared in for the Cleveland Browns from 2017 to 2021. Last season, he earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 79.4 across 1,039 snaps logged. This was the fifth-highest grade for any player on the Browns.
Feliciano, who has played guard for the majority of his career, signed with the Giants in March with the expectation of playing center this season. However, Tretter would be a major upgrade at the position if New York is able to land the 31-year-old.
Tretter has served as the NFL Players Association head since 2020.
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Here’s why Ballentine likes Tretter:
Center might not be the most valuable position on the offensive line, but it is still surprising that there is one as good as J.C. Tretter still on the market.
Tretter’s departure from Cleveland had more to do with financials and little to do with his level of play or health. He was the fifth-highest graded player on the roster by Pro Football Focus and only gave up one sack on the season.
The veteran center is set to enter his age-31 season, but health shouldn’t be a concern. He has played in 16 games in each of the last five seasons.
Tretter has a wealth of experience and will bring leadership and solid play to whatever team picks him up. He’s a plug-and-play starter from Day 1 who will be solid in pass protection and an asset in the run game.
Anyone with questions on the interior would benefit from bringing him on board.
Based off this explanation, Tretter is the type of asset that the Giants desperately need on their interior offensive line. Tretter would likely start at center, while Feliciano could shift over to guard.
Center/guard Nick Gates underwent multiple surgeries for a leg fracture a season ago, and his status for 2022 is questionable. Guard Shane Lemieux is expected to be healthy, but the third-year lineman is coming off surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his knee. By signing Tretter, the Giants would be eliminating a major question mark along their offensive line.
Why it Might be Unrealistic
Personnel wise, signing Tretter appears to be a no brainer for the Giants. However, money will likely nix this idea.
According to overthecap.com, the Giants have around $6.3 million in cap space remaining. They also have a major hole at the cornerback position after releasing James Bradberry in order to sign their draft picks.
If the Giants were in a better cap situation, It’s possible that Schoen could’ve brought in Tretter and kept Bradberry. But due to having limited financial space, Schoen and the Giants are looking to the future instead.
In a make or break year for quarterback Daniel Jones, Tretter could help the fourth-year quarterback take the next step and solidify his status as the Giants’ franchise quarterback. But again, the Giants lack wiggle room, which means another team will likely be able to swoop in and offer more money to Tretter.
Schoen and the Giants would be wise to wait it out to see if they can land Tretter at a bargain price, but right now the possibility of New York signing the veteran center seems doubtful.