The New York Giants signed offensive lineman Zach Fulton this offseason with the perceived intention that he’d help fill the right guard void left behind by Kevin Zeitler. Instead, the 90-game starter has opted to call it quits after seven seasons in the NFL, becoming the third member of the team to retire over a four-day span.
“I had a good conversation with Zach last night,” head coach Joe Judge said following Fulton’s placement on the Reserved/Retired list. “He talked with me, [offensive line coach] Rob [Sale], Flats [offensive consultant Pat Flaherty], [offensive coordinator] Jason [Garrett], [general manager] Dave Gettleman and a few other people in the organization. Zach was doing a good job for us. He’s a guy that I didn’t want to see go; however, I respect his decision.”
“Zach’s been with us through the spring. He’s a guy that’s been great in meetings,” Judge noted. “He’s an older guy. When you sit down and have an actual conversation with him, you kind of get deeper and you put football aside and just talk about family and interests and things going on. You really see the depths of the person. You’ve got to take the helmet off sometimes.”
Fulton, a sixth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2014, has appeared in 107 games in his pro career. The Tennessee product inked a one-year $1.2 million contract with the Giants during free agency after three seasons with the Houston Texans. He now not only joins linebacker Todd Davis among the established Giants veterans to hang up their cleats in recent days, but he also becomes the second interior offensive lineman to do so, accompanying former Dallas Cowboys starter Joe Looney. The latter of which is not ideal for a team operating with question marks up front.
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What Now for the Giants’ Guard Position?
Fulton, 29, was in the mix for the starting right guard position — although Will Hernandez looks to be closing the gap on the spot. Having said that, depending on the duration of Shane Lemieux’s knee injury, we could see Hernandez flipping back over to his natural position of left guard, once again leaving a hole on the right side.
Veteran Kenny Wiggins, who has started 38 games spanning across stops with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and Detroit Lions has been garnering some first-team reps early in training camp. Judge also floated the idea of starting center Nick Gates shifting back to guard, where he spent a large portion of the 2019 season.
Gates Addresses Fulton’s Retirement
Speaking of Gates, the versatile offensive lineman spoke with reporters following Fulton’s decision to step away, showing nothing but respect for his short-term teammate.
“It’s personal things, I get it,” Gates said regarding Fulton’s decision. “When you’re a nine, ten-year guy, you know, when there’s personal reasons. I wish him the best and he’s a good guy and we’ll see. I mean I know [Joe] Judge said he’s welcome back whenever under the circumstance.”
As for any concerns of Gates being the next Giant to jump ship, it appears as if fans can rest easy knowing at least one of their key starting hog mollies will be around for the near future.
“No, not yet,” the 25-year-old stated when jokingly asked by a reporter if he’d be retiring.
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