NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 4:53 PM
It took the Giants exactly one day of free agency (and more than $ 200 million) to revitalize their struggling defensive line. But adding pieces to a beleaguered offensive line isn’t proving to be nearly as easy.
And now, their best free agent option is reportedly off the board. On Thursday afternoon, offensive tackle Russell Okung was close to a five-year deal with the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN. The deal was expected to be worth $ 10.6 million a year.
Okung, 28, was widely viewed as the top remaining free agent offensive lineman of the spring, a 2010 first-round pick who spent his first six seasons entrenched as the Seattle Seahawks’ left tackle. He is expected to play that role for the Broncos next season, and according to ESPN, the veteran considered it “very important” to stay on the left side.
That may help explain why he never wound up with the Giants, who remain committed to 2015 first-round pick Ereck Flowers as their long-term solution at left tackle. There was plenty of buzz around Okung and the Giants over the weekend, because the veteran began his free agent tour in East Rutherford.
Okung, who is acting as his own agent in negotiations, did discuss money with the Giants, too, although it is not known if a contract was ever officially offered. It’s possible that the Giants had other concerns, too, since Okung is coming off offseason shoulder surgery.
Okung went on to visit the Lions and Steelers, and he also drew reported interest from the 49ers and Seahawks before settling on Denver.
The Giants still have a solid core along the line, with Flowers, center Weston Richburg and versatile Justin Pugh, but most reliable linemen on the market are no longer options to finish out that group.
Word surfaced earlier this week that Donald Penn would visit the Giants, a rumor that served only as leverage for the veteran, who re-signed with the Raiders on Wednesday. Ryan Harris (who signed with the Steelers) and Kelvin Beachum (Jaguars) are also off the board, and it’s possible that both players were also looking to remain at the more valued left tackle position.
Guard Lou Vasquez, cut by Denver earlier this offseason, may be the Giants’ best hope for a veteran finishing piece, but there’s been no word that the club has reached out to him. Former Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith, a former first-round pick who struggled in 2015, could also be another option.