Ereck Flowers' decision to skip the Giants' voluntary offseason program could definitely be considered ill-advised -- assuming he was getting any advice at all.
If he was, he was getting mostly bad advice, considering his tenuous position with the Giants. He had already lost his spot at left tackle, and his attitude led to a benching late last season. And now he's so infuriated the new regime that the Giants were open to trading him during last week's NFL draft. He's also already cost himself $12.5 million, because the Giants did not pick up the fifth-year option of his contract for that amount by the 4 p.m. deadline on Tuesday.
On all fronts it seems like his relationship has soured with the Giants past the point of no return.
But that's where agent Drew Rosenhaus comes in, with the hopes something can still be salvaged from Flowers' Giants -- and NFL -- career.
Flowers recently hired Rosenhaus, as the NFL's super-agent announced on Monday, in what might be the first smart decision he's made during his time in the NFL. Rosenhaus told SNY he has "a good relationship with the Giants organization" -- which has been true for many years. And he said "I plan on speaking with them soon regarding Ereck."
That's not at all a bad thing. In fact, according to one team source, the Giants are taking it as a positive step that Flowers -- who was previously represented by his father -- hired someone who actually understands the NFL. They've had little luck in reaching Flowers themselves. Maybe someone else, with some vast NFL experience, can have better luck trying to intervene.
Because believe it or not, the Giants don't view Flowers as a totally lost cause. No, they don't believe he's been a particularly good player in the three years since former Giants GM Jerry Reese took him ninth overall in the NFL draft. But he's still only 24 years old, and he's 6-6, 325 with 46 starts at left tackle under his belt. There is some talent there. There is size. There is raw potential. And there is experience.
That's why the Giants refused to just give him away last week. According to a source, they did have a couple of discussions with mildly interested teams, but no one was willing to part with anything more than a late-round pick. The Giants weren't going to just dump Flowers for nothing, especially since he could still end up being their best bet to start at right tackle this season.
But first, someone has to get through to him -- something new head coach Pat Shurmur tried back in March, right after the Giants signed veteran left tackle Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million deal and decided to move Flowers to the right side. Shurmur even tried his best to massage an ego that he knew would likely be badly bruised.
"I expressed to him that I knew he was a little bit hurt when he played all year. I think that's an important piece," Shurmur said in March at the NFL owners meetings. "I kind of embraced him by saying I think he's a tough guy."
At the time, Shurmur thought it worked, too. But then came the start of the Giants' offseason workout program on April 9 and Flowers didn't show up -- the only player not there for Day 1, according to a team source. Nearly a month later, he's still working out on his own in Miami, much to his new boss' dismay.
"He's in Miami and we are here," Giants GM Dave Gettleman said during the NFL Draft. "He decided not to come. He's an adult and he has the ability to make decisions on his own."
Of course, as Gettleman pointed out, the offseason workout program is "voluntary" -- which means the Giants can't punish him for not showing up. In fact, they even have to be careful about how much pressure they put on him publicly and privately, otherwise they'll draw the attention of the NFLPA.
But Rosenhaus is smart enough to know that Flowers should be there for the sake of his own situation. He's dealt with plenty of unhappy players in the past, and he's well aware of the NFL landscape. Flowers is still under contract for another season (for a guaranteed $2.4 million) and has very little leverage to change his situation. He's also going to be an unrestricted free agent next March, and if he has any interest in a second NFL contract with anyone he'd make a statement by showing up, acting his age, and fighting for a job.
That would be quite a change over the last three years when Flowers was mostly sullen and moody, and didn't help his cause by fostering a terrible relationship with the press. His public face, aside from a struggling player, was a man who refused to answer even basic questions, shunned any sense of accountability, and once made it all worse by shoving a reporter after a game.
The Giants' previous regime seemed to enable that, and certainly couldn't (or wouldn't) make him understand that he was his own worst enemy.
Maybe Rosenhaus can. Sure, there's always a chance that this will simply lead to an ugly exit, but that doesn't seem to be the hope or plan for either side. The hope is Rosenhaus can make Flowers understand the need for making better decisions, starting with showing up and working out with the rest of his team.
Then his coaches can get a chance to know him and work with him, and he can get the "clean slate" the new regime has promised. And then maybe he can be a productive player for the Giants after all.