In a year when the New York Giants offensive line had its struggles, John Jerry was rarely, if ever, among the most pressing concerns. The veteran guard was steady and reliable, one of their most consistent offensive linemen from start to finish.
Jerry played in all 17 games this past season. He took all but two of the Giants’ offensive snaps in the regular season and finished with a solid, 77.0 Pro Football Focus grade thanks to his usual strong pass-protection marks.
After an offseason that Jerry called “career-changing” for his work at LaCharles Bentley’s O-Line Performance along with center Weston Richburg, Jerry had one of his best seasons. He had an 84.1 pass-blocking grade and 61.9 as a run blocker. In the Giants' pass-heavy offense and with their struggles at tackle, at least they could count on their interior to keep the instant pressure off quarterback Eli Manning.
But now Jerry, who just finished his seventh professional season and sixth as a starter, becomes a free agent. The Giants must decide how important continuity really is on their offensive line as they try to fix the unit this offseason.
Jerry can provide some stability on the interior working alongside Richburg and left guard Justin Pugh as they try to remedy their problems at tackle. He’s proven to be a solid contributor (ranked 33rd among PFF’s guards this season) and a respected voice in the offensive line room.
The Giants must decide if he's part of their future.
Free agent file
Age: 31 (when the season begins)
Experience: 7 years
Projected contract: 3 years, $9.6 million, $4 million guaranteed
(Note: The projected contract was derived from the average of five league sources surveyed. The panel consists of a front-office executive, salary-cap experts and agents.)
Comparable contracts: Zane Beadles (49ers)
Beadles was a starting guard throughout his career when he was signed to a three-year deal last offseason. At 29 years old, he received a contract worth $9.75 million (slightly more than $3 million per season) and $3.3 million guaranteed. Jerry seems in line for something similar.
He can also look at the deal that Geoff Schwartz signed with the Giants during the 2014 offseason when he was 28 years old. Schwartz, considered one of the top guards on the market that offseason, landed a four-year, $16.8 million deal with $5.7 million guaranteed. While Jerry likely won’t have the same market and is several years older, the salary cap has been consistently on the rise the past three years. So a deal worth about $4 million per year, like Schwartz’s, might not be out of the realm of possibilities, although for fewer seasons because of his current age.
Market: The Giants will be in the mix. The Broncos, Browns, Lions and Colts are some teams that also need guard help. It’s a strong guard class with T.J. Lang, Larry Warford and Kevin Zeitler expected to hit the market. Jerry falls into the second tier for teams that could be looking for value and a shorter commitment since he’s going to be 31 years old.
What he brings: Jerry is an average starting guard but provides extra value to the Giants with his knowledge of the offense and ability to create some continuity on the interior of the offensive line. He’s a hard worker and is a lead-by-example guy who could serve as a model for some of the younger offensive linemen.
Synopsis: With the Giants needing to upgrade at offensive tackle, bringing Jerry back at a reasonable price would allow them to allocate more resources to the edges. The caveat is if the Giants see either Ereck Flowers or Bobby Hart as potential solutions at right guard. That would jeopardize Jerry’s chance of returning next season. If the Giants get shut out at offensive tackle in free agency or via trade, they could also look to add an upper-tier guard.
Chances of Giants return: 64 percent
Jerry has been a reliable player for the Giants. He’s well-liked in the locker room and his return would create some stability. With the Giants set to invest significant money into other positions, having Jerry back at a workable price seems realistic.