New York Giants: alex mack

You have questions about the New York Giants. You have a Twitter account. You use the #nygmail hashtag. I have a Saturday post. World spins on.

 
We did not expect the New York Giants to use a franchise or transition player designation this year, and they did not. The 4 p.m. ET Monday deadline came and went without any Giants free agent getting tagged, which means that if they want to keep Jon Beason, Linval Joseph, Justin Tuck or any of their other free agents off the open market, they have to get them signed to a new contract by 4 pm ET on March 11, one week from today.

Some teams did use the franchise player and transition player designations, however. Washington franchised pass-rusher Brian Orakpo, which means he'll be around to torment Will Beatty at least two more times. And the Cleveland Browns used the transition player designation on free-agent center Alex Mack, which more or less takes the best free-agent center off the market.

I don't know whether the Giants were planning to make a run at Mack, and truth be told they still could. The problem is, Cleveland has the right to match any offer, so if the Giants agree with Mack on a contract, the Browns could simply give him the same contract and he would remain with the team. The Giants are OK on cap room, with about $18 million right now and more on the way once Chris Snee's and David Baas' salaries get cut and/or come off the books. But the Browns have about $30 million and have the incentive and the wherewithal to keep Mack. They also would forfeit their right to draft-pick compensation for him if they let him sign elsewhere. Point is, Mack is almost certain to be back in Cleveland in 2014.

The Giants will look at free-agent guards once free agency opens next week, and it's possible they'll look for a center as well. Baas is under contract but is a strong candidate for a pay cut or an outright release, though the more significant cap savings would come if they cut him after June 1. Much of the Giants' decision at center could have to do with Baas' health, but even if he's fully recovered from the neck injury that ended his season, he could be replaced for salary and production reasons.
The single most important thing for the New York Giants to do this offseason is put back together their offensive line. With Kevin Boothe a free agent and the contract situations of David Baas and Chris Snee in limbo, it looks as though they could need new starters at center and both guard spots. Free agency offers a chance to address, that, and here's a list of the top players available at those positions:

CENTER

1. Alex Mack, Cleveland. The top target, though the Browns and other teams will push hard. If the Giants are going to pay a premium price for a center, this is the guy to pay.

2. Evan Dietrich-Smith, Green Bay. Like Mack, he'll be 28 when the season opens and in his prime. The Packers are likely to try to keep him.

3. Brian De La Puente, New Orleans. He turns 29 in May and the Saints have enough depth on the interior of their line that they could let him walk.

GUARD

1. Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City. Took over for Jon Asamoah in the second half and played well. Doesn't turn 28 until July.

2. Travelle Wharton, Carolina. He'll turn 33 in May, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus' No. 3 left guard in 2013.

3. Jon Asamoah, Kansas City. Schwartz outplayed him and maybe he'll want to leave town after having been benched.
Just because I've been busy all week with Super Bowl coverage doesn't mean I've forgotten about my New York Giants fans. As always on Saturday morning, you have questions, and you used the #nygmail hashtag to post them on Twitter, so I will do my best to supply the answers.



Thanks for the questions. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the Super Bowl.

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