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Mailbag: Who will start at center in 2020?

Bruce, Missouri: Do you think the Giants will pursue a center in free agency or will they stay with what they have on the roster?

The Giants have a lot of things to consider when evaluating the center position. Jon Halapio is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in late December and there is no way to know this early in the process where he will be in his recovery in August and September. Spencer Pulley, who started nine games in the 2018 season for the Giants (and started 16 games the previous year for the Patriots), is still under contract.

There have also been indications in the past that third-year player Nick Gates might be able to move to the center position. He played well in spot duty at right tackle and right guard last season. He could be a player in competition with Pulley and Halapio for center snaps in the offseason.  

The Giants can also look at the free agent market, where veterans like Connor McGovern, Austin Blythe, Ben Garland and Ted Karras are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.

Ian, Pennsylvania: Is Gettleman going to re-sign David Mayo? Mayo was one of the best linebackers in the league last year against the run. If the new coaching staff can help him to learn proper coverage techniques, then I think that the sky is the limit for Mayo. He is only 26 or 27 years old.

You are correct that David Mayo was very effective against the run last year. His run fits were excellent and he was physical at the point of attack. Whether or not he can develop his coverage skills has as much to do with his athletic skill set as his technique.

A player can play perfect coverage technique, but if he lacks the speed and side to side quickness to cover athletes in space, it doesn't matter much. With the passing game becoming more relevant, the new defensive coaching staff will have to determine to what level he can develop those skills.

Mayo has value as an early down run-stopper and a core special teams player. I enjoyed watching him last year and it will be interesting to see if the Giants try to retain him in free agency.

Check out the best photos from behind the scenes at the NFL Combine.

Rita, North Carolina: Do you believe that we will build through this draft class or in free agency? Our lines on both sides of the ball should be our focus this offseason.

Joe Judge has been very consistent that he believes his team needs to be tough and physical to win, which means being able to: stop the run, run the ball and cover kicks. It would not surprise me at all if he and Dave Gettleman decide to focus on the lines this offseason. The Giants have two excellent defensive tackles who stop the run under contract in Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence, with Leonard Williams a free agent.

On the outside at edge rusher, only Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are under contract. Markus Golden is due to be an unrestricted free agent. They will have to add multiple players to that position in free agency or the draft.

A team can never have too many offensive linemen, and the Giants will have to decide whether to bring Mike Remmers back at right tackle. With Jon Halapio's injury at center, there could be additions there. It is always wise to add young players at offensive tackle for developmental purposes. Nick Gates could be a player ready to step in this season.

A team should always build its core through the draft, while using free agency to fill holes on the roster. Dave Gettleman has repeatedly stated that free agency should be used to eliminate pressing needs so the team can choose the best player available in the draft. It is no different this year.

The team will use all avenues to fill its needs and improve the line play on both sides of the ball. There's a lot of talent to be had in both free agency and the draft.

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