NFC East: brian de la puente

Quick takes: Offensive line

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
Because I'm thinking too much about the offensive line and what the Washington Redskins are doing:
  • At coach Jay Gruden’s introductory news conference, he talked about wanting to have versatility and variety in the offense. So he wanted to use the zone read (some) and he wanted to run power. Here’s what he said:
    “I like the power plays. I like the gap-blocking plays. So there’s a little bit of everything. I don’t think any offense in the NFL anymore is just, ‘We are this.’ I think we have to adhere to what we have offensively, talent-wise. We can do the read-option. We can do naked bootlegs. We can run outside zone. We can run bubble screens. We can run deep balls. We can do play-action deep things. I think the whole idea to be a successful offense is to be diverse and be good at a lot of different things and not just one.”
  • So it’s no surprise that when looking at offensive linemen in free agency, he’s opted for players with a little more size. That doesn’t mean the Redskins will abandon what they had done in the past. This offseason, offensive coordinator Sean McVay said, “The run game will be very similar." But it does mean that they want players who can perhaps be capable of doing more.
  • McGlynn
    They hosted two linemen Wednesday: former Saints center Brian de la Puente and ex-Colts guard/center Mike McGlynn. De La Puente weighs 306 pounds (former center Will Montgomery weighs 304; Kory Lichtensteiger, who will move to center, weighs between 280-285 but is adding 10-15 pounds in the offseason. I'm anxious to see Lichtensteiger at center; I've long thought that would be his future home and agree with Chris Cooley that he would be good here).
  • McGlynn weighs 325 pounds. The problem here: he struggled big time at guard by all accounts last season. As much as everyone wants to hammer the Redskins’ offensive line, few were worse than Indianapolis’ -- especially in the interior. Where McGlynn started. But he started three games at center and, again, according to those who watched the team on a daily basis, he fared much better.
  • Here’s what ESPN Colts reporter Mike Wells wrote about McGlynn: “McGlynn was in a tough position last season. He started 11 games at guard but he’s weak at that position and was part of one of the worst interior offensive lines in the league with center Samson Satele and guard Hugh Thornton. ... Slide McGlynn to center, which happened three times because of injuries to Satele, and all is better for him because he plays the position better than Satele. ... Colts coach Chuck Pagano had an opportunity to keep McGlynn at center and bench Satele in the playoffs but he decided against it.”
  • And here’s what Stephen Holder, a Colts’ beat reporter for the Indianapolis Star, wrote about McGlynn: “McGlynn was not a strong performer when used at guard this season, but he and the line overall played better when he was the starting center (he started three games). If the Colts offer a contract to McGlynn, expect it to be modest in value and look for McGlynn to have to compete for playing time and/or a roster spot.”
  • De la Puente
    De la Puente did not exactly play with a lot of power in New Orleans. I saw him get moved back in a couple games, but I also saw him be effective when on the move -- whether to block a linebacker or maintain leverage on a defensive lineman.
  • I think he was helped playing with Saints quarterback Drew Brees; the bulk of his throws (54 percent) were unloaded in less than three seconds. Robert Griffin III unloaded in that amount of time 45 percent of the time (according to ESPN Stats & Information).
  • But the point is it’s not as if De la Puente would be a bad fit for some sort of outside zone-based scheme (if they sign him, that is). Actually, he's probably a good fit. Nor would his signing signal some shift to a strictly power-based run game. It does sound as if he was a smart center with the Saints, so that would be good.
  • Newly-signed guard Shawn Lauvao weighs 315 pounds, about the same size as Chris Chester (Josh LeRibeus is bigger, though his listed weight was 315 pounds last season). So if Lauvao and Chris Chester are the guards (not sure yet if that will be the case; if they sign someone else, then I’d imagine a current Redskins linemen could get released and Chester represents $2.7 million in cap savings) then that would give them a bigger tandem than the past couple years. But both are capable of running outside zone plays -- word out of Cleveland is that this style would fit Lauvao. And Chester is not a power blocker.
  • Point is, the Redskins still don't look like they're abandoning what they have done in recent years with the run game. But that doesn't mean it will look exactly the same, and other aspects will be emphasized because Gruden will want to incorporate some of his style. It is his offense after all. Some of the changes they're making, or trying to make, are as much about performance as scheme.

Redskins hosting Brian de la Puente

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
The Redskins planned to shift guard Kory Lichtensteiger to center, which is why they released their incumbent starter. They might have another option: free-agent Brian de la Puente.

de la Puente
The former New Orleans starting center is visiting the Redskins Wednesday. The Redskins released their starting center, Will Montgomery, last week.

Lichtensteiger already knew he was going to move to center and planned to add about 10-15 pounds, bulking up to play for coach Jay Gruden after playing at a lighter weight for Mike Shanahan.

De la Puente started at center the past three seasons for the Saints. He broke in with Kansas City in 2008, but did not play a game and didn’t play in ’09 and ’10, though he was with five other teams during that span either on the practice squad or in training camp.

If the Redskins sign de la Puente, it would be their second free-agent acquisition along the line. Washington signed guard Shawn Lauvao on the opening day of free agency.

Here’s a scouting report on de la Puente from Saints reporter Mike Triplett:

"De la Puente could be in high demand this offseason as a proven starter who has played at a high level for the last three years. Like the rest of the Saints’ offensive line, he struggled at times during the first half of the 2013 season in both his run blocking and pass protection. But he finished very well during the second half of the year and in the playoffs -- returning to the consistent level we saw in 2011-12. De la Puente isn’t a mauler up front, but he’s got a good combination of power and athleticism -- which has served him well in the Saints’ versatile offense that relies so much on pass protection and screen passes. And his experience as a signal-caller for such a sophisticated passing offense will only enhance his market value. De la Puente certainly fit right in on a Saints offensive line filled with diamonds in the rough. He joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Cal in 2008, but he bounced around with San Francisco, Kansas City, Carolina and Seattle before landing on the Saints’ practice squad in 2010. He then earned the starting job over veteran Olin Kreutz early in the 2011 season."

Big Blue Morning: Happy New Year

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
Yeah, that's right. Free agency begins today at 4 pm ET along with the start of the new NFL league year. That means the New York Giants, who by my count need at least 10 new starters and a whole bunch of depth, are going to get busy figuring out what their 2014 roster is going to look like.

The industry scuttlebutt this morning is the Giants will sign a center quickly, as they did three years ago with David Baas when the market opened. They have decided to release Baas, as you learned Monday, and with nothing behind him on the current roster, center becomes a priority item. The Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith makes a lot of sense and could be the guy they sign right away, within minutes or hours of the opening of the market. Dietrich-Smith turns 28 in July, and new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo knows him from their work together in Green Bay. The Giants also have spoken with the agents for Saints free-agent center Brian de la Puente and others.

The Giants also are known to be looking at cornerbacks. They are close to an agreement with Trumaine McBride, who became a starter for them last year after Corey Webster and Aaron Ross got hurt. But they see McBride as a valuable reserve or swing corner who can play inside or outside. They'd prefer not to have to rely on him as a starter on the outside if they can help it. Now, obviously, the biggest name on the cornerback market all of a sudden is Darrelle Revis, who is apparently about to get cut by the Buccaneers. If the Giants want to play in the deep end of the cornerback pool, they would have to at least check on Revis. My guess is that he'll cost more than they want to pay, but they'd be crazy not to look into it. The Giants have about $25 million in salary cap space right now, and while they have a lot of needs, that's enough to enable them to afford anyone.

The Giants also continue to work on a new deal for linebacker Jon Beason, though it seems as if he's interested in finding out what else is out there for him. Remember, because Beason is acting as his own agent, he hasn't yet been able to have the conversations with teams that other agents have had about their players for the past three days. So, assuming everyone's been following the rules, Beason doesn't yet know what his market is. Once he finds out, he could decide the Giants' offer is the best he'll do. But he owes it to himself to find out.

Other than McBride, it seems the only Giants free agents who'll be locked up by 4 pm ET are kicker Josh Brown and possibly running back Peyton Hillis. That means Beason, Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Terrell Thomas, Stevie Brown, Hakeem Nicks and all the rest should be on the market when it opens. Of that list, I'd guess Beason and Brown are the most likely to be back, and I wouldn't rule out Tuck just yet. The others are looking for bigger paydays than the Giants are willing to offer right now.

Stay tuned throughout the day, of course. We'll have plenty of coverage, including a live chat with all of our NFL reporters that runs from 2 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET. I'll be popping in and out of there as news warrants, but the chat should be active all day with news from around the league. Stop by at this link right here. Catch up with you later.

Giants offensive line tidbits

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
I have a source who has confirmed this New York Daily News report that the New York Giants have called to express interest in free-agent center Brian de la Puente, who was last with the New Orleans Saints. This source believes the Giants have called to express interest in quite a number of interior offensive linemen but was confirming the de la Puente interest because it already had been reported.

At this point, it's impossible to handicap the Giants' chances of signing de la Puente or even whether he's their first choice for center. The "legal tampering period" reports make it tough to know what to believe, because what you hear and read is only a sliver of the amount of activity that's actually going on.

But I have heard some things with regard to the Giants and the offensive line, so I will share them with you here, provided you promise not to fixate on specific names. There are a lot of moving parts, and the point of this analysis is that the likelihood of some moves depends on the way others break in the meantime. So without further ado:

The David Baas situation. The Giants are not averse to keeping Baas, though it would have to be at a lower salary than his currently scheduled $4.75 million for 2014. They have discussed with Baas a pay cut and also a restructure, and either option would reduce his 2014 salary-cap number. They also haven't ruled out releasing him, especially if a better option (de la Puente, for example) presents itself in the meantime. The Giants would save $1.775 million against the cap if they cut Baas, and they would save $5 million if they designated him a June 1 cut, as the Steelers did Monday with linebacker LaMarr Woodley. The issue could be one of leverage: Until the Giants have secured a new center, Baas can wait and hold them up on the salary as long as he's their best option. But that's a risky strategy, since he could find himself out of a job the minute they sign someone else.

UPDATE: The Giants have decided to release Baas before the start of free agency, which likely means they were encouraged by what they learned this weekend in terms of their chances to find a suitable replacement on the free-agent market.

The Chris Snee situation. The veteran right guard has said publicly he'll take a pay cut, and the Giants appreciate this because they don't know the extent to which they'll be able to count on Snee and his surgically repaired hips as a starter. Snee's decision to return for 2014 surprised some people around the Giants, though not necessarily unpleasantly. They are happy to have him if he's healthy enough to play, though his return doesn't preclude them from securing a young free-agent guard or drafting an offensive lineman to take his place, either now or eventually. Snee said recently that he would step aside and help as a tutor if a younger player came in and took his job, and his flexibility on these matters is an asset to the Giants as they make their offseason plans.

The Kevin Boothe situation. I have heard conflicting things on Boothe from different sources. One person told me early in this process that the Giants weren't planning to bring back Boothe. Another has since told me they're amenable to bringing back Boothe but that they would prefer him as a backup at guard and center than as their starter at either position. As is the case with Baas, they appear to be holding off on doing anything with Boothe until they figure out whether they can do better. The difference is that Boothe is a free agent as of 4 p.m. ET Tuesday while Baas is still under contract. I just don't get the sense they would be devastated if someone else wanted to pay Boothe as a starter and they ended up having to replace him.

Free-agent possibilities. In addition to de la Puente, the Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith and the Patriots' Ryan Wendell have both come up in connection with the Giants in terms of centers. Wendell is likely a cheaper fallback option in case they get priced out of the high end of the center market. Guard possibilities continue to include the Chiefs' duo of Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz, though Monday's rumblings indicate Atlanta as the front-runner for Asamoah. Recently released Davin Joseph and Uche Nwaneri are possibilities, but the Giants are hoping to sign players under 30 years old as they view the line situation as a long-term rebuild as much as a necessary short-term fix.