The New York Giants fell incredibly short of their lofty expectations for their 2012 campaign. Although many pundits believed Big Blue had enough to repeat as Super Bowl champions, this team has been sitting at home for nearly a month watching the playoffs unfold. For many fans, the offensive line was a major reason behind the Giants failures. Namely, David Diehl took a lot of the blame upon his shoulders. However, the statistics say the Giants had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL in 2012.
The Giants gave up an average of 1.2 sacks per game last season, which was the best mark in the league. Eli Manning was sacked on just 3.58 percent of his drop backs, also good for best in the NFL. The rushing attack improved from last in the NFL in 2011 to 14th in 2012. Although this unit fails the proverbial eye test, the statistics say that Big Blue's offensive line improved drastically this season. However, that doesn't mean we won't see changes in 2013.
David Diehl is going to turn 33 years old next season. He's a former All-Pro and a two-time Super Bowl champion that has been a cornerstone on the Giants offensive line for the better part of the last decade. However, it became clear over the last several games of last season that Diehl is no longer a starting offensive tackle in the NFL. Given his drastic decline, it stands to reason that the Giants should cut him loose this offseason and fine a cheaper replacement. However, it does not appear that Diehl is going anywhere this offseason.
Diehl is on the books for $7.45 million in 2013. At this point in his career, he would be able to sign for the veteran minimum on the open market, at best. If the Giants were to move on from him, most other teams would see that as a red flag. For the sake of the younger offensive linemen on the roster, it makes perfect sense to move on from Diehl. However, even if the Giants cut him, he would still count $3 million against the salary cap for next season. That's a lot of money to allocate to a person not on the roster.
Furthermore, there is no viable replacement that the team could start in lieu of Diehl next season. James Brewer has immense size, but still hasn't taken a meaningful snap in his entire career. It would be hard to ask him to go from zero playing time in 2012, to starting in 2013. If the Giants find a viable right tackle at the top of the NFL Draft, then it would still make sense to keep Diehl for depth.
Diehl's versatility is what may ultimately keep him on the roster. Obviously, if he's not willing to take a sizable play cut off his $7.45 million salary this season, the team should cut him regardless. However, Diehl knows how to play four positions along the Giants offensive line. He's never played center in his career; but even if David Baas went down, the Giants could shift Kevin Boothe to center and Diehl to left guard. So,if anyone on the offensive line were to get injured, the Giants would be able to plug the whole with a knowledgeable veteran with vast experience in the system. That's a valuable asset to any team in the NFL.
David Diehl is a step or two slower than he was during his All-Pro days. He's older, more injury prone, and would be a disaster as a starting right tackle in 2013. However, given his salary cap hit and his ability to play four positions along the offensive line, it does not make a lot of sense to cut him loose. Diehl's experience and knowledge of the Giants offense is not something that can just be replaced, and it's likely going to allow him to play one more season in the NFL.
Also…David Baas, David Diehl, Football, James Brewer, Kevin Boothe, New York, New York Giants, NFL
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