The top priority for the Giants heading into their offseason figured to be fixing their beleaguered offensive line. On Saturday night, on the third day of free agency, they took their first steps in that direction.
The Giants agreed to terms with D.J. Fluker on a one-year contract, an NFL source confirmed. The deal was reportedly to be worth only $3 million, making it a bargain for the Giants, and giving the former 11th overall pick (in the 2013 draft) a chance to re-establish his value and reset his career.
The 6-5, 339-pound Fluker was released by the Chargers on Tuesday in part because he was due an $8.821 million salary in 2017. They clearly didn't want to pay that much for a player who never matched his draft-round hype, even though he was a solid, four-year starter at both tackle and guard.
The Giants love that kind of flexibility in their offensive linemen, and it's not clear where they intend to play him. They have an obvious hole at right tackle after last year's starter, Marshall Newhouse, signed with the Oakland Raiders. And they might have one at right guard, with veteran John Jerry a free agent.
But they have many other options in what could end up as a completely re-worked offensive line in 2017. Bobby Hart could be in the mix at either right tackle or guard. The Giants have hinted they might move left tackle Ereck Flowers to a different position. And while Justin Pugh seems entrenched at left guard, he used to be a tackle so he certainly could switch positions, too.
Whatever alignment they choose to go with around center Weston Richburg, Fluker certainly has the talent to be an upgrade over Newhouse or Jerry, or even Flowers on the left side. He's been durable, too, missing just five games in his four-year career.
The Giants had inquired about other tackles on the market, but they mostly were looking for someone in Fluker's position - willing to accept a short-term, low-salaried, "prove-it" type of contract. The Giants, according to the NFL Players Association, have only about $8 million in salary cap space, and that's not including the cap hit from four-year, $18 million contract they gave H-back Rhett Ellison on Thursday.
The Fluker deal probably gets them close to being right up against the cap, and they still need a kicker, a backup quarterback, depth players and, eventually, they need to sign their rookie class. That means they're going to have to do some restructuring of contracts or cut some more players. They can also open up some space by signing Jason Pierre-Paul to a long-term deal, though there has been no indication that an agreement with JPP is even close.