Even though the Giants are coming off their most successful regular season since 2008 and their first playoff berth since 2011, their season-ending, 38-13 loss in Green Bay in the wild-card round left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. It also left the Giants heading into the offseason with plenty of difficult questions.
You asked them, so I'll answer as many as I can in four installments of the first offseason edition of my SNY Giants Twitter mailbag. Here is Part I:
What are the chances the Giants re-sign JPP and Hankins while still adding a FA O-linemen -- @nealg831
The easy answer, of course, is that it depends on the prices. Unfortunately for the Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins aren't going to come cheaply. Really good free agent offensive linemen -- especially tackles -- aren't cheap either.
Now, the Giants do have cap room. Not as much as last offseason, but they probably will begin free agency with somewhere around $30-40 million to spend. I know everyone wants an exact number, but it depends on what the salary cap is set at and which players the Giants choose to cut. Generally they figure to be about middle-of-the-pack in the NFL in cap money available to spend.
That sounds like a lot, but consider the prices. JPP undoubtedly has his eyes set on at least the five-year, $85 million deal (with $52.5 million guaranteed) the Giants gave Olivier Vernon, and given his age, athleticism, and recent production he just might get it. Hankins probably won't get the five-year, $46.25 million deal (with $24 million guaranteed) the Giants gave Damon Harrison, but he might get in that ballpark.
And then, for the free agent tackles, consider this: The Jets just gave Brian Winters -- not exactly one of the top interior linemen in the NFL -- a four-year, $29 million deal with about $15 million guaranteed, and no one screamed the price was outrageous. Free agent prices are about demand and availability, and if middle-of-the-road guards are getting $7.25 million per season, then top tackles can expect $8 million per season at least.
All of that adds up -- quickly.
So can the Giants do it? Sure. But keep in mind they have other needs too (like maybe a second tackle, a receiver, possibly a running back, and a tight end). They also have some more of their own free agents they want to re-sign. Are the chances good that all that happens? Probably not. I am skeptical that they'll be willing to re-sign both JPP and Hankins, because that would just be far too much money to tie up solely in their defensive line.
But it's possible. And they might try.
What do you see as the best position for Flowers and why? -- @mikepro56
There seems to be a general feeling among fans that the solution to the problem of Ereck Flowers at left tackle is to move him somewhere else along the offensive line. If he's a bad left tackle, the theory goes, put him on the right side. Or maybe let him play guard.
But here's the thing: If a guy is a bad tackle when he's playing on the left side, why would he suddenly be good on the right side? Also, it's not as if NFL guards are just guys who couldn't get it done at tackle. Playing that position is actually a skill unto itself.
So the Flowers situation is perplexing. From talking to scouts and people inside the Giants' organization, I don't get the sense that people think he's overmatched physically or lacks the skills to play tackle. At 6-6, 329 he's certainly got the size to play tackle. He should be comfortable on the left side too, since he played mostly on that side in college.
The word most people use when evaluating his issues is: "Technique." It's flawed. He struggles with doing it correctly. As a result, he's out of position, he tends to look slow to react, and he gets beat. I assume that it would be the same if he moved to the right side, so I wouldn't do that with him. Maybe some of that could be hidden at guard, where he might get more help and avoid dealing with speed rushers. But as far as I know, he's never played guard before. I don't know how difficult that switch would be for him.
I think he just has to get better or be benched. The benching probably would've happened last season if the Giants had any viable replacement. What I suspect will happen is that they'll spend the offseason trying to rebuild his technique in the hopes that he gets better. They'll teach him the right side, in case they're able to sign a free-agent left tackle. And they might rotate him in at guard just to see what he can do there.
I think it'll be one big experiment to see if they can find a place where he'll succeed. I don't know what the best spot will turn out to be. If he doesn't improve, there might not be a good one at all.