J.D. Walton’s recent eviction from the Giants’ roster was a multi-purpose cut that saves the team $3 million in cap space, moves Weston Richburg to his natural position at center, and, hopefully, improves the squad’s pass protection and run blocking.
The move, fuelled by Coach Coughlin’s comment at the Scouting Combine where he admitted that his “preferred position” for Richburg is at “center”, gave the team the financial flexibility it required to place the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul. Accounting for Walton’s $3 million salary deduction and JPP’s reported $14.813 million, the Giants have close to $13.8 million to shore up their offensive line, blitzing ability, and rush attack after also releasing LB Matthias Kiwanuka and running backs David Wilson and Peyton Hillis.
Having signed a non-guaranteed contract, Brett Jones, one of the Canadian Football League’s best offensive lineman, will be competing with Richburg for the center position; a spot that Walton started in all 16 games for the Giants in 2014. Staying healthy is the only real star on Walton’s resume from last year as he was distinctly mediocre and a non-factor for much of that playing time.
At 27 and given his latest injury-free campaign with 54 professional career starts (including 2 in the postseason), Walton is a solid, economical backup option for most teams in the league. He comes with some injury history having suffered an ankle injury that led to his release from the Denver Broncos, the team that selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft, but has also shown the ability to persevere and bounce back. The latest is simply the today’s setback for an athlete well-versed in dealing with hardship and challenge.