The New York Giants have had several players receive medical treatment throughout the offseason to clear up minor health issues that plagued their performances in 2012. Chris Snee had work done on his hip, Hakeem Nicks had arthroscopic knee surgery, while David Bass had surgery "on his body". Today, Jenny Vrentas of the Star Ledger reports that David Diehl also had a minor procedure to clean up any lingering issues that arose in his knee this season.
All reports indicate that Diehl will be healthy and ready to go by the start of training camp. However, a lot has to happen between now and then for him to actually be on the roster next season.
Diehl sprained his MCL in a week two matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the Giants offensive line immediately stabilized during his absence. Sean Locklear moved into the right tackle position and provided reliable protection for Eli Manning to operate. However, because of Diehl's reputation and the Giants coaching staff's reluctance to strip a player of his starting role due to injury, the team decided to reinsert Diehl into the starting in week nine against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His mediocre play resumed and the Giants offense remained inconsistent throughout the season.
Although it's completely unfair to peg the Giants offensive line issues solely upon Diehl, his play this season was a clear indicator that his time as a starting offensive linemen in the NFL is over. He no longer has the strength or explosiveness to consistently keep Manning protected in the pocket, which is a huge liability for the Giants offense.
However, while Diehl's play has undoubtedly declined over the last two seasons, the Giants would eat $3 million in dead money if they cut him. Diehl is no longer a starting linemen, but his ability to play four of the five positions on the offensive line makes him a valuable asset off the bench. The Giants still have a need for his services; but he is set to make a base salary of $4.45 million next season. That number needs to drop significantly for him to stay on the team.
Ultimately, Diehl will probably find a way to cling onto a roster spot for the duration of the 2013 season. His role will be reduced, his salary will be manageable and he will provide legitimate depth on the line. He also provides veteran leadership and has an intricate knowledge of the Giants blocking schemes. However, he's no longer good enough to hold a prominent role on this offense. If the Giants don't find an answer at right tackle this offseason, we could continue to see inconsistent play from the Giants offensive line in 2013.
Also…Chris Snee, David Diehl, Eli Manning, Football, Hakeem Nicks, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Sean Locklear, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers