SEPTEMBER 17: Thomas is indeed inactive for Sunday’s game, as the Giants will play it safe with their blindside blocker. An improved performance compared to Week 1 will be needed up front for New York, but their O-line will be shorthanded against the Cardinals.
SEPTEMBER 14: First- or second-round picks are stationed at both tackle spots and center along the Giants’ offensive line, but middling guard investments join the Andrew Thomas–Evan Neal–John Michael Schmitz trio. Against the Cowboys, the Giants’ O-line plan did not hold up.
Dallas’ top-tier pass rush sacked Daniel Jones seven times and tallied 15 quarterback hits in the 40-0 drubbing Sunday night. ESPN’s pass block win rate metric graded both Neal and right guard Mark Glowinski in the bottom three at their respective positions in Week 1, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan notes.
The team used Glowinski and Ben Bredeson as its guard starters. This came after a lengthy competition, one that featured 2022 third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu vying for a role. The Giants expected Ezeudu to beat out Bredeson, a 2021 trade acquisition, for the left guard job, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post notes. This optimism helped influence the Giants to not pursue a notable free agency guard addition. The team had been mentioned as interested in retaining Nick Gates, but the Commanders signed him and deployed the ex-Giants starter at center in Week 1.
The Giants preferred to devote funds to retaining their own talent this offseason, giving Jones, Thomas and Dexter Lawrence pricey extensions. Saquon Barkley‘s $10.1MM franchise tag also limited how Big Blue could devote its free agency dollars. The team had also given Glowinski a three-year, $18.3MM deal ($11.4MM guaranteed) in 2022. Despite Pro Football Focus rating Glowinski as a top-30 guard last year, the Giants held a three-way guard battle in training camp. The 31-year-old blocker kept his RG gig but enters Week 2 under a microscope after his showing against the Cowboys.
Outside options do exist at guard for the Giants. Justin Pugh, who began his career with the team and started at guard and tackle following a 2013 first-round investment, has expressed interest in rejoining the team. Pugh, 33, is coming off a torn ACL sustained in October of last year. The five-year Cardinals starter said he was eyeing a Giants return in August, though the Syracuse alum has not been closely tied to a team since he received clearance to resume football work.
Oddly, Dalton Risner also remains a free agent. The four-year Broncos starter entered free agency as, at worst, a second-tier option at guard. But he did not sign anywhere and took the surprising path of remaining unattached entering the year. A handful of teams showed interest in Risner, who may well be waiting for an injury to shake up a team’s O-line plans. The 28-year-old blocker probably qualifies as the top option available.
Elsewhere on New York’s O-line, Thomas is battling a strained hamstring. An MRI revealed the All-Pro left tackle avoided a serious setback, per Raanan, but it is possible he misses some time. Injured after the Giants’ botched field goal attempt that resulted in a Cowboys TD, Thomas did not practice Wednesday. This offseason, the Giants gave the 2020 first-rounder a five-year, $117.5MM deal that sits second among tackles.
Matt Peart, a 2020 third-round pick, sits as the Giants’ swing tackle, though Schwartz adds Ezeudu has taken LT reps in practice over the past two weeks. Ezeudu spent time at tackle while at North Carolina. Moving to left tackle after failing to win a starting guard job in his second training camp might make be a stretch. Peart has not made a start since 2021; the UConn alum has six career starts.