The New York Giants are in the market for offensive tackle depth following franchise left tackle Will Beatty‘s torn pectoral, which will cause him to be sidelined for a handful of months. Currently, their starting left tackle is first-round rookie Ereck Flowers, who is a raw pass blocker and isn’t an ideal rookie LT, and his direct backup is Marshall Newhouse, who is not somebody the Giants would ideally like to see on the field as a starter for an extended period of time.
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It makes sense for the Giants to scour the barren free agent market for all options, and they’ve looked into the biggest name available. According to ESPN NFL Nation’s Dan Graziano, Long took a trip to the Giants yesterday, but FOX Sports’s Mike Garafolo made the important clarification that the Giants are in “no real rush” to bring him on board.
It’s not a surprising statement from Garafolo, but it’s always important to keep in mind when discussing a veteran free agent, especially big names like Long. The Giants need a better veteran option for the short-term, but they need to carry out an extensive medical check on this target. Long played in just seven games last season and is an injury-prone player nearing the end of the line at the age of 30, so the Giants need to see just how much he can offer them.
Of course, the proneness to injury isn’t really a big deal from the Giants perspective, because realistically they’ll only ask him to start a handful of weeks as a stopgap. It’s hard for them to trust Flowers as Eli Manning‘s blindside protector, as they can’t afford significant disruptions to their timing-based offense; those could easily lead to interceptions on Manning’s part.
The Giants interest in Long isn’t surprising given the fact that they’ve been linked to him prior to yesterday’s visit, though whether or not they sign the former Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams standout will depend on how far they think he’s come from his ACL tear. While ACL tears don’t mean as much as they used to, it’s still a huge injury for a veteran player to suffer, and it’s yet another reason why the Giants are in no hurry to bring him on board.
Long hasn’t been linked to any other teams either, so it’s not like there’s huge competition for his services. Denver Broncos LT Ryan Clady went down with a season-ending injury yesterday, but the Broncos reunited with Ryan Harris as their veteran replacement (in case Ty Sambrailo or, if they let him switch sides, Michael Schofield can’t emerge as legitimate blindside options for Peyton Manning).
The expectation could be for the Giants to wait until Long feels closer to full strength, as he’s still rehabbing from that ACL tear he suffered last season. I don’t see the harm in signing him, since even a hobbled Jake Long would still be better than Newhouse in pass protection, which is the most important thing for the organization at this point.
Sep 14, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams tackle Jake Long (77) blocks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. St. Louis Rams defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It is important to note that while Long may suffer a drop in performance as a result of the severe knee injury, he was the only competent blocker on the Rams nightmare offensive line last season.
He had a bit of a down year himself in those seven games, but he also had extremely little help around him, as the Rams interior was arguably the worst in the league (the New Orleans Saints were probably “up” there, too). Long, of course, was absolutely phenomenal in 2013, and he could still have something in the tank in the running game.
I would be surprised if the New York Giants sign him in the near future, but it would be a good idea for them to bring him in at a later date. These kinds of signings carry no financial risk, and the Giants aren’t looking to add young depth with upside or a bounce-back candidate; they’re looking for a cheap, veteran stopgap.
The risk involved in this deal is solely based on how Long plays, but it’s hard to see him being a worse option. I mean, “Better than Newhouse,” is all they’re looking for. He’s had two torn ACLs in the same number of seasons, but he’s worth the flier, mostly for lack of better options.
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