Could the Giants reunite with fan-favorite offensive lineman for depth?

Could the Giants reunite with fan-favorite offensive lineman for depth?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have attempted to rebuild their offensive line this offseason, adding a few quality veterans to the starting lineup. But behind the Giants’ starting five could be a need for added depth. With the recent influx of cap space the Giants received from Darren Waller’s retirement, they could reunite with a fan-favorite offensive lineman in free agency.

Nick Gates became a fan-favorite among Giants fans

New York Giants, Nick Gates
Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants center Nick Gates (65) blocks against the New England Patriots during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants let veteran offensive lineman Nick Gates walk in free agency last offseason after four seasons with the team. Gates joined Big Blue as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and saw his first regular-season action in 2019. He made three starts that season before earning a larger role in 2020.

In 2020, Gates started all 16 games for Big Blue at center, logging 1,014 in the middle of the offensive line. He then moved to left guard to open the 2021 season before a gruesome lower-leg injury ended his season prematurely in Week 2 and nearly ended Gates’s NFL career.

However, Gates battled back from his injury to make a triumphant return to the field in 2022. He appeared in 10 games and made eight starts for the Giants at left guard as they earned their first postseason berth in over 10 years.

Gates’s incredible story and return to the field solidified him as a fan-favorite among the Giants faithful. His willingness to fight opponents who wronged his teammates made him a locker-room favorite, too. But on top of all of that, Gates was a solid performer for New York on the football field.

Despite his resilient return to the team and his above-average play across four seasons, the Giants let Gates walk in free agency in last offseason. He wound up signing a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the division-rival Washington Commanders. But after just one season in the nation’s capital, Gates was released and is still currently a free agent.

Could the Giants reunite with Nick Gates?

New York Giants, Nick Gates
LANDOVER, MD – DECEMBER 22: Nick Gates #65 of the New York Giants lines up against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedExField on December 22, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Gates is still waiting for a team to demonstrate enough interest in him to land a new opportunity. Perhaps the Giants could explore a reunion with the 28-year-old offensive lineman as they prepare for the upcoming 2024 season. Injuries have plagued New York’s offensive line in recent years, so adding familiar talent to the mix could provide them with more security and insurance.

After an unsuccessful season with the Commanders, Gates is unlikely to land a deal paying him anywhere near the $5.5 million average annual salary he landed last offseason. If the Giants want to reunite with Gates, they could likely do so on a cost-efficient one-year deal.

3 free agents the Giants could target with the Darren Waller retirement money

Big Blue has its starting center established in second-year pro John Michael Schmitz. The left guard position is also locked up by one of the two newcomer veterans: Jon Runyan Jr. or Jermaine Eluemunor. Where Gates could fit in, however, is behind those three starters on the depth chart. As an experienced veteran with positional flexibility, Gates could serve as backup for more than one position along the G-Men’s offensive line. This could make him a valuable depth signing if the Giants feel like reuniting with a familiar face in free agency.

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