John Fennelly, Lead Writer
The Giants lost out on free agent center Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed with Tampa Bay yesterday, but they may have another center in their sights: Tampa’s Jeremy Zuttah.
CBS Sports’ NFL reporter Jason LaCanfora is suggesting the Giants as a natural landing spot for Zuttah, a 6’4″, 308lb product out of Rutgers. The Giants have done well with Rutgers centers in the past (Shaun O’Hara). Zuttah is also only 27, which fits their current free agency philosophy to get younger.
Zuttah’s roster spot is in danger following the signing of Evan Dietrich-Smith. The Bucs are considering keeping Zuttah and moving him to guard, but can clear his entire $4.5 million cap hit without any dead money if they choose to release him. The Giants currently have just J.D. Walton and free-agent Kevin Boothe as candidates for their starting center job.
Not sure the Giants will be willing to assume Zuttah’s salary and cap number. There are a few options remaining for them at center in free agency. Brian De La Puente is still available and is a better player who could be signed for the same money, or less. Then, there is an outside chance the Giants could make a play for Cleveland’s Alex Mack, who was transitioned by the Browns last week.
According to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, Mack’s agents are planning on making it difficult for the Browns to retain the 28 year-old center, who is considered the top free agent remaining on the market. Wesseling reports that four teams are interested in Mack, two of them being the Colts and Ravens. The other two teams are unknown. Could the Giants be one?
UPDATE: 2:30pm: Dan Graziano of ESPN NewYork commented on the Giants’ plans at center in his Saturday dispatch:
“The New York Giants’ plan at center appears to be an economy plan. They signed young J.D. Walton, who started for the Broncos in 2010 and 2011 but hasn’t played since early 2012 due to injury. They hope he can develop quickly, if not instantly, into their starting center. In case he can’t, I believe they are talking to Kevin Boothe about a return. I also heard the name of former Patriots center Ryan Wendell earlier in the week, but he may have been a backup plan to Walton.”