Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that the New York Giants will begin free agency next month by pursuing some of the top young guards on the market -- guys in their mid-20s to late-20s who rank among the best available at the position this offseason. He lists Kansas City's Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz, the Chargers' Chad Rinehart, Denver's Zane Beadles and the Browns' Shawn Lauvao as possibilities. They're all between 25 and 28 years old, which is a smart age range at which to target free agents. In that age range, you can find players who have established themselves as capable, productive performers but who still have prime years left and are hungry to keep proving themselves.
So with David Diehl retiring, Chris Snee trying to work his way back from another hip surgery and Kevin Boothe also a free agent, this is a sensible way for the Giants to go, for sure. The Giants are invested in Will Beatty at left tackle for the long term, and they like 2013 first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle for now, so they will focus on the interior of the offensive line, which was their greatest weakness last season.
What confuses me a bit is the David Baas situation, as I expected the Giants would move on from Baas and find a new center this offseason. This report here makes it sound as though they expect to keep Baas, as long as he comes back from his neck injury OK. But I think that'd be a bit of a mistake. The Giants have always seemed to like Baas more than the empirical evidence indicates they should, starting with when they signed him, so it's possible they could be holding on because they see something we don't. And if they are to cut him, he makes more sense as a June 1 cut, where he'd save them $5 million in 2014 cap space as opposed to the $1.8 million he'd save them if they cut him now. So maybe that decision comes later, with the potential re-signing of Boothe (who can play center) as a hedge in case they don't find Baas' replacement in the draft.
Either way, the Giants need to keep adding quality pieces to an offensive line that wasn't great to begin with in 2013 and offered very little help from the bench when the starters went down. This isn't about plugging a couple of holes; it's about improving the overall quality of a unit that's been neglected. Targeting the best guards available in free agency would be a fine start.