This week, a potential target the New York Giants could have pursued in free agency went off the board in Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack, who had the transition tag placed upon him by the team.
With the tag, which pays roughly around a shade over $10 million, it would allow the Browns to match any free agent offer made by teams and since the Giants are at around $19 million in salary cap space right now, committing more than half to one player wouldn't be the best way to spend their funds, even if it would have been for perhaps the best center in the league.
So with Mack now out of the picture and the status for current starting center David Baas uncertain due to having a high salary; a salary that the Giants want him to take a pay cut from and if not, could lead to a potential June 1 cut and with Jim Cordle set to become a free agent next week too, there's a very good chance that at the start of the 2014 season, Eli Manning will be taking snaps from someone new.
One potential candidate that the Giants could look at for the center spot is someone who has ties to the team's new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is Evan Dietrich-Smith of the Green Bay Packers, who after Mack, was looked at as perhaps the second best center on the market next week.
The 6'3", 310 pound center would be an instant upgrade to the position and would also bring the kind of versatility that Kevin Boothe offered the Giants on the line because he's not only just a center, but can play the guard positions as well. However, the Giants are looking to address the guard position in free agency, so if Dietrich-Smith was a target the Giants wanted to acquire, they'd likely want him to only play center, but knowing another position on the line always adds value to a players stock when teams are looking for a reason to sign them at this time.
The 27-year-old former Packer is an extremely good pass blocker and would help the cause of keeping defenders off Manning, something the offensive line struggled to do in 2013 as they allowed 39 sacks on the Giants quarterback, the most in his 10 years as a pro. With a solid pass blocker like Dietrich-Smith keeping the middle open, it will allow Manning to see down the field more openly and make better decisions as opposed to the many forced decisions he made last year which at times, lead to turnovers.
When Baas came over to the team in 2011, he was supposed to take over as the young and hungry player and replace the departing Shaun O'Hara, but Baas has never lived up to the five-year deal that the Giants paid him and really hasn't filled the void left by O'Hara in 2010 and adding a solid, top of the line center like Dietrich-Smith could be the way to finally fill the void left and take the next step in improving one of the weakest areas from last season.
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