New York Giants starting offensive lineman Nick Gates will not be suiting up for the remainder of the 2021 NFL season — that much we are certain of. However, could we have possibly already seen the last of Gates on an NFL football field, ever? Head coach Joe Judge hinted at this much while speaking to the media on Thursday, September 23.
Asked by a reporter whether Gates’ injury could be career-ending, Judge said, “I’d be lying if I said no,” via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. Judge later added that the organization is “confident” that Gates can make a full recovery and be able to come back at some point, but confirmed, “yes, it could be career-ending.”
The Nebraska product entered The 2021 campaign as an opening-day starter for the second time in as many years and his first season as a team captain. The four-year pro has appeared in 34 games (21 starts) since going undrafted in 2018. Over that span, he has flaunted his positional flexibility starting games at center, guard and right tackle.
Gates’ Agent Responds
Jon Perzley, Gates’ agent, was quick to refute the idea that his client’s career could potentially be over. In fact, he made a proclamation that Gates would be good to go come this time next season.
“Mark my word, Nick will be back in blue next year,” Perzley said, via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. “While in some cases these types of injuries can be career-threatening, Nick’s situation is not that. It doesn’t hurt that he is the toughest guy on the planet.”
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Gates Expected to Undergo More Procedures
Gates, 25, underwent surgery on Setempber 17 to repair a broken tibia and fibula which he suffered in Big Blue’s Week 2 loss to Washington. One day after going under the knife, Gates posted a story on Instagram of him walking (h/t Raanan).
“Up and walking already! One step closer to getting back on the field!” Gates captioned the video.
However, despite Gates being in good spirits, he’s not yet in the clear. The Nevada native still remains at Inova Fairfax Hospital (Virginia) — where he had his original surgery — and is expected to undergo more procedures in the coming days.
Judge stated that as soon as Gates returns to East Rutherford, “We’ll keep this guy as involved as we can with the team,” via The New York Daily News. The Giants head coach also added that he could envision Gates entering the coaching ranks — but hopefully much further down the road.
“I’ve had guys in the past that had traumatic injuries where you can look down the road and know these guys are gonna be somewhere involved in coaching,” Judge said. “Sometimes we get them involved in the weight room, get their feet wet, get them into some projects, get them start thinking like a coach, ease that transition. Hopefully, Nick’s about a decade away from that.”
Gates isn’t the only Giants offensive lineman sidelined. Starting left guard Shane Lemieux also recently underwent was is believed to be season-ending surgery to repair his patellar tendon, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
While Judge has since pumped the brakes on Rapoport’s report, refusing to rule out a return later on this season for Lemieux, the Giants will likely have to make do with a compilation of Billy Price, Ben Bredeson, Matt Skura and Jonotthan Harrison for the majority of 2021.