Andrew Thomas looks well on his way to solidifying himself as a mainstay across the New York Giants offensive line. After a rather iffy rookie showing, the former No. 4 overall pick has made major strides in year two, owning the fifth-best pass-blocking grade (85.3) amongst all NFL tackles per Pro Football Focus. For what it’s worth, he is also tied for second on the team in receiving touchdowns.
With that said, the player to bookend Thomas for years to come is far more of an uncertainty. No matter how much Joe Judge wants to boast about the progress he’s making, a 33-year-old Nate Solder is undoubtedly not the answer at the other tackle position. Evidently, Matt Peart isn’t either — at least under this current coaching staff.
Could their lack of an answer up front leave the Giants in the market to make yet another splash move this offseason? According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling, it’s at least plausible. While he acknowledges that Orlando Brown Jr. might be the “unlikeliest” of all the big names to hit free agency come March, he believes the Giants would be potential suitors should the Kansas City Chiefs fail to lock him up long-term:
While the gap between left and right tackles has closed in importance because the right side needs just as much pass-blocking skill these days to fend off pass-rushers, either way, top-tier tackles rarely make it to market. And Brown is not just top-tier; he’s still only 25 years old.
Brown, a third-round pick in 2018, got shipped from Baltimore to Kansas City in exchange for a first-round pick and other draft assets back in April. (The price was presumably lowered because the Chiefs will have to pay Brown a market-resetting extension to keep him.)
Since arriving in Kansas City, Brown has earned a 75.8 PFF grade (placing him in the “starter” category), gradually improving by midseason after a slow start in new surroundings. Plenty of teams with needs on the left edge will be more than happy to splurge on the best under-30 lineman set to hit the market.
Brown’s Projected Contract
Brown, a reigning back-to-back Pro Bowl selection, has undoubtedly earned a lucrative payday since arriving in Kansas City and the Chiefs would be wise to reward him with one. Yet, how lucrative are we talking? Considering the premium the league rightfully puts on the tackle position, as well as Brown’s age and upside, Sports Illustrated’s Conner Christopherson believes Brown will seek a deal worth “around five years and $100M.”
Of course, the Giants aren’t in any position at the current moment to make such a hefty financial commitment. As things currently sit, New York is projected to own the sixth-lowest salary cap space in the NFL come 2022 according to Spotrac. With that said, as the Giants demonstrated this past offseason, and how many other teams have since shown, if a team wants a player bad enough they can move money around to make such a move happen.
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Potential Fit With the Giants
The other question as it pertains to the Giants is where do you play Brown? While he has experience playing both tackle positions, he forced his way out of Baltimore this past offseason because he was keen on being a left tackle. Yet, all of Thomas’ 23 career starts with the Giants have come at left tackle. Entering the league, many projected Thomas to flip over to the right side and he was even penciled in as the starter at that position prior to Solder opting out of the 2021 NFL season. However, he’s since proven his worth on the left side and is deserving of that position heading into next season.
In reality, Brown still remains a long shot for the Giants. If not for anything else but the fact that the Chiefs likely didn’t wager a future first-round pick for a one-year rental. Still, New York needs an influx of talent on their offensive line, and there’s no more talented offensive lineman set to hit the open market this offseason than Brown.