<
>

Could Ereck Flowers be at left tackle to stay for the Giants?

Hope everyone is enjoying a fun and safe holiday weekend. Here are some New York Giants Twitter Mailbag questions to hold you over while you slow-cook those ribs...

@DanGrazianoESPN: With starting left tackle Will Beatty out until at least November following his pectoral muscle surgery, rookie Ereck Flowers has been working at left tackle in the spring. Whether Flowers actually opens the season at left tackle depends on a number of things, most importantly how he performs in training camp once the pads are on. But even if they don't trust him at left tackle, Flowers is likely to start at right tackle as a rookie in a worst-case scenario, so he'll have a chance to impress while Beatty heals. One of the reasons the Giants felt good about drafting Flowers at No. 9 overall this year was because they believed he was their left tackle of the future, and by definition Beatty's replacement. So the question is whether that could mean Beatty leaving the Giants after this season, and the answer is yes, it could. Beatty's contract runs through 2017, but the Giants could get out of it easily next offseason. He's scheduled to make $6.675 million in salary and bonuses in 2016. But none of that is guaranteed, and the Giants would save $4.175 million against that year's salary cap if they released him next spring (or the full $6.675 million if they made him a post-June 1 2016 cut). So yes, if Flowers plays great and they think they can get by without Beatty and they need the cap room next offseason, Beatty could be gone. But that doesn't mean he will be gone. That $6.675 million isn't an unreasonable sum to pay your starting left tackle -- or even your starting right tackle, if your left tackle is in the second year of a rookie deal. If Beatty comes back and plays well and the Giants still have a need at tackle next year, they'd have little reason to let him go. So the answer to your question is that Flowers hitting it big right away could lead the Giants to cut ties with Beatty, it's not the only factor and there's no reason to believe it would automatically lead to that.

@DanGrazianoESPN: We'll dig into 53-man roster projections as we get a little bit closer to camp, but my knee-jerk answer is that I'd expect the Giants to carry four safeties. Second-round pick Landon Collins is a sure thing, and given the Giants' traditional loyalty to their draft picks, fifth-round pick Mykkele Thompson is a good bet to stick as well. That leaves two spots for 2013 fifth-rounder Cooper Taylor, 2014 fifth-rounder Nat Berhe, 2014 sixth-rounder Bennett Jackson and undrafted rookie Justin Currie to fight over. This is a wide-open competition, and the Giants' defensive coaches are looking for someone to emerge as a leader and a reliable coverage guy at free safety. They'd like to see Berhe out there, but his spring injury issues kept him on the sideline and set him back. Taylor got some work there and did well, as did Currie. Some in the organization see Josh Gordy as an option at safety, but he seemed to work more with the corners in the spring. I think they'd like to install Collins as the strong safety and for someone to step forward and win the free safety spot (the way Larry Donnell won tight end last summer, for example). But after OTAs and minicamp, there was no clarity at all on this. Thompson has an uphill road because of his size and inexperience, but he could outperform Berhe, Taylor and the others in camp, and they'd give him the starting job if he did.

@DanGrazianoESPN: Sorry, Ryan. There's nothing at all to indicate that the Giants would even consider firing GM Jerry Reese. They just don't see that as a position where they want to have turnover. They've had three different GMs in the past 37 years and they believe in continuity in that position. They like Reese as their GM, they view Reese as their GM and they're not looking to make a change there. They don't really want to make a change at head coach, either. But while Reese bears more responsibility for the current sorry state of the franchise than Tom Coughlin does, their relative ages and the nature of their positions makes it more likely that Coughlin takes the fall for another non-playoff year than Reese does. It isn't fair, but that's the way it goes in East Rutherford.

Please do enjoy your holiday.