The New York Giants drafted two offensive tackles in the 2020 NFL Draft and signed one in free agency last year. The Giants received mixed results from Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Cameron Fleming throughout the entire year, as the offensive line struggled to gel together as a unit. With the 2020 season officially over, it’s time to take a look back at the Giants offensive tackles and set expectations moving forward.
New York Giants Offseason Evaluation: Offensive Tackles
- Andrew Thomas
- Matt Peart
- Cameron Fleming
- Jackson Barton
- Nate Solder
2020 Offseason & Preseason
The New York Giants prepared well for the future at the tackle spot in the 2020 offseason. The Giants signed swing tackle Cameron Fleming in free agency while drafting Andrew Thomas in the first round out of Georgia and Matt Peart out of UConn in the third round.
Veteran Nate Solder opted-out of the season before training camp, so he missed all of 2020. This turned the picture upside down, as with Solder opting out, Andrew Thomas was slated to start at left tackle. During camp, the coaching staff did not figure Peart was ready to start, so Fleming started the season at right tackle. The Giants claimed Jackson Barton off waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs as rosters shortened.
The offensive line got off to a horrible start in the first stretch of eight games during the season. Andrew Thomas regressed after a solid first week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cam Fleming did not help, as him getting beat and causing penalties did not help. With the struggling starting five as a factor, the Giants started the season 0-5.
After Andrew Thomas was late to a team meeting, Judge benched him in favor of Matt Peart in the first quarter of a game against the Washington Football Team. As the weeks went on, Joe Judge implemented a system similar to what happened in New England where different linemen got snaps during the game. As a result, Matt Peart saw more time at right tackle, as he rotated with Fleming.
Thomas’s play improved when Shane Lemieux played for Will Hernandez in Week 8. Hernandez was diagnosed with COVID-19. From then on, Lemieux remained the prominent left guard while Hernandez rotated in.
The Thomas-Lemieux duo allowed four sacks and 20 pressures from Weeks 8-17. Those results were better than the play of the Thomas-Hernandez duo in Weeks 1-7, where they allowed five sacks and 36 pressures.
As Matt Peart played more snaps towards the end of the year, he began to struggle. Notably against the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals.
In his rookie year, Andrew Thomas allowed 10 sacks, 41 pressures, and nine quarterback hits. In the limited snaps, he played, Matt Peart allowed two sacks, two quarterback hits, and five pressures. Meanwhile, Cam Fleming six sacks and 35 pressures in the 16 games he started.
The two young offensive tackles are still under contract, while Fleming is set to be a free agent come March.
How Should the New York Giants Proceed?
The New York Giants should leave Andrew Thomas as is starting at left tackle. However, the Giants will need to make an evaluation-based decision regarding Matt Peart. Though he showed promise in 2020, Peart struggled towards the end of the year.
Most mid-late round picks take two to three years to develop as starters. It is possible that Peart slumps in his sophomore year. From now until free agency, the Giants can only evaluate Peart based on the tape.
In that case, they can either sign a free-agent or draft a tackle. Their decision on the former 3rd-round draft choice will impact what tier of free-agent or draft tackles they go after.
The Giants’ decision will also impact the Cameron Fleming decision. If the Giants believe that Peart is not ready to be the Week 1 starting right tackle, they could re-sign Fleming to a one-year deal or sign another veteran tackle. Joe Haeg, Kendall Lamm, Ty Nsekhe, and Matt Feiler are all good veteran options to be the swing tackle.
The Giants should go after Haeg or any of the other options rather than re-sign Fleming. Though the Giants signed him to a one-year deal, Fleming did not play well when given the opportunity. Pass protection and committing penalties were issues for the 28-year old. To be fair, he was not expected to start.
Big Blue could also select a mid-late round tackle to be the swing lineman and prioritize that cap space towards re-signing Dalvin Tomlinson or Leonard Williams. Some draft options include Spencer Brown, Alaric Jackson, Brady Christensen, Jake Curhan, and Stone Forsythe.
The Giants expect Nate Solder to retire. However, they should not bank on it. Cutting Solder lose is what they need to do. Accept their losses, eat the $10M in dead cap, and save $6M in cap space.
Embed from Getty Images