Giants & Jets Expected to Compete for ‘Top Free Agent’ at Position of Need

Jets included in Giants' potential competition for free agent offensive lineman Michael Onwenu.

Getty The New York Giants will have plenty of competition for free agent offensive lineman Michael Onwenu.

New England Patriots offensive lineman Mike Onwenu has become a popular fit for the New York Giants in 2024 NFL free agency, but it sounds like they’ll have plenty of competition if they choose to target the versatile 26-year-old.

Several teams have Michael Onwenu as the top free agent offensive lineman on the market,” uSTADIUM reported on February 22. Adding: “Expect the Giants, [New York] Jets, [Los Angeles] Chargers, [Cincinnati] Bengals and [Jacksonville] Jaguars to be among the many teams who reach out once the legal tampering period begins March 11.”

Playing in opposite conferences, the Giants and Jets have always been brotherly rivals. They only match up in the regular season once every four years — a game that just occurred in 2023 — but every once in a while, the two organizations compete in other ways.

Offensive line is a dire area of need for both franchises this spring and Onwenu might be the cream of the crop as uSTADIUM alluded. Not only is the former sixth-round sleeper entering his prime, but he’s also versatile with the ability to play both guard positions and right tackle.

If a suitor needed more incentive to bid on Onwenu, he’s appeared in 15 or more games in each of his four seasons in the league, meaning he’s displayed a track record of durability.

On top of that, the fifth-year pro has never allowed more than three sacks and 23 quarterback pressures in a single year, and he’s allowed fewer than 15 QB pressures in three of his four campaigns according to Pro Football Focus. His regular season PFF run blocking grade has also never been lower than a 72.2 — with a career-high 89.4 in 2021.

Potential Giants Free Agent Target Mike Onwenu Given ‘Market Value’ of $13.6 Million Per Year

Considering the reported interest in Onwenu, you never know if a bidding war will end up raising his salary.

Having said that, Spotrac initially gauged his “market value” at $13.6 million per year, predicting a four-year, $54.57 million contract in 2024. That would provide Onwenu a slight raise on a recent guard signing like Ben Powers (Denver Broncos) that was deemed similar, although the Patriots blocker’s versatility makes it more difficult to measure his worth.

Would teams be asked to pay Onwenu like a right tackle — an area he performed adequately in — or is he getting signed to start at his bread-and-butter position, guard?

Unfortunately for Onwenu, the difference in role typically comes with a major decrease in salary. However, assuming the Giants, Jets and several others are all involved in the bidding, it might be more realistic that the coveted free agent is paid closer to RT numbers.

Spotrac cited Jawaan Taylor’s $20 million per year salary with the Kansas City Chiefs as an example when determining Onwenu’s market value in free agency. It’s unlikely he’ll make that much, but his final contract could end up somewhere between $13 and $20 million per year.

Mike Onwenu’s Free Agent Ranking According to Different NFL Experts

We’ve talked about Onwenu’s statistical output, resume and expected value, but here’s how he’s seen around the NFL community heading into March.

Pro Football Focus gave Onwenu the highest free agency ranking at No. 25 overall. Interestingly enough, analyst Brad Spielberger saw him more as a tackle despite his track record at guard.

“Onwenu had been shuffled around endlessly throughout his rookie contract but returned to right tackle in Week 7 of 2023, the position he seems most comfortable playing as a solid pass protector and a strong gap scheme blocker with good footwork to combo block at the line and get to the second level fairly well,” Spielberger explained.

ESPN placed him one spot lower at 26th in the class. Writer Matt Bowen also called the Chargers his “best team fit” in free agency.

Onwenu was ranked below offensive tackle Tyron Smith and guard Kevin Dotson on both of those lists — as well as OT Trent Brown on PFF and guards Robert Hunt and Jonah Jackson on ESPN.

Continuing on, CBS Sports ranked Onwenu 29th overall for this free agency class, which placed him second at tackle behind Smith and second at guard behind Dotson. And finally, FOX Sports had the Patriots UFA the lowest out of the four sites at No. 30.

The latter also included a new potential landing spot for the blocker: Houston. Current Texans general manager Nick Caserio had a hand in drafting Onwenu back in New England.

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