It was anticipated by many New York Giants fans that the team would aggressively pursue one of the more highly regarded (or recognizable) names in free agency for the much-maligned offensive line. There was speculation that the Giants might attempt to sign guard Mike Iupati (49ers), tackle Bryan Bulaga (Packers), or guard/tackle Orlando Franklin (Broncos) among others. But those players did not seem to appear on the team’s radar scope as there were no reports of visits or even interest.
In the end, the Giants did move quickly to sign one offensive lineman on the opening day of free agency. However, it was a surprise candidate and one that did little to excite: Marshall Newhouse, who was signed to a 2-year, $3 million contract from the Cincinnati Bengals.
The scouting reports on Newhouse coming out of college in 2010 were mixed. He was a three-year starter at left tackle at TCU. While Newhouse has good bulk (325+ pounds), he lacks ideal height (under 6’4”). Newhouse tested very well athletically for a big man, tying for the best three-cone time (7.4 seconds) at the NFL Combine, demonstrating very quick feet. However, because of his “dumpy” body and lack of functional football strength, combined with his lack of proper technique and leverage, Newhouse was regarded as a mid-to-late round “developmental” prospect.
The most severe pre-draft criticism was that he was a soft, passive, and inconsistent player who alternated between good and poor play. Some thought his best position might be guard, while others thought he might be over-drafted based on his measurables and not his on-field performance.
The Green Bay Packers drafted Newhouse in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft, being picked 169th overall. Newhouse did not play in any games as a rookie. But the “developmental” prospect became a factor quicker than expected in 2011 when he ended up starting 10 games at left tackle for the injured Chad Clifton and three games at right tackle for the injured Bryan Bulaga. While Newhouse had his issues at times in pass protection, he played better than expected for a team that finished the regular season 15-1 before being knocked out of the playoff by the Giants in the NFC divisional round.
“I think (Newhouse) has the personality makeup to (be our left tackle of the future), the athletic ability to do that, the feet and the smarts to be a very, very solid left tackle for us,” said Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers in December 2011.
In 2012, Newhouse started all 18 of the Packers’ regular-season and post-season games at left tackle. But the Packers were not thrilled with Newhouse’s play and the plan was to upgrade at that position by moving shifting 2010 1st round pick Bulaga to left tackle. Newhouse simply wasn’t a very physical run blocker and he was still making too many mistakes in pass protection, resulting in sacks, pressures, and holding penalties.
Entering the 2013 training camp, it was anticipated that Newhouse would have a good chance to win the starting right tackle job. But he lost the job to undrafted second-year man Don Barclay. And although Bulaga tore an ACL in training camp, the Packers chose to start rookie 4th rounder David Bakhtiari at left tackle instead of re-installing Newhouse at the position. Newhouse became the primary back-up at both tackle spots, though he did start two games at right tackle in November, including one against the Giants.
In 2014, Newhouse signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an unrestricted free agent. He did not win a starting job but became the primary back-up tackle. However, Newhouse struggled when forced to start at right tackle for three games due to an injury to Andre Smith and was benched due to his poor play. In particular, Marshall was terrible in a Week 10 game against the Cleveland Browns where he almost got Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton killed. Bengal fans felt it was an upgrade for their offensive line when he signed with the Giants.
Overall, Newhouse has played in 62 regular-season games with 36 starts (26 of those starts coming at left tackle in 2011-12). But it is important to note that he lost starting tackle jobs with the Packers during the 2013 preseason and the Bengals during the 2014 regular season. And both fan bases were glad to see him sign with other teams. Newhouse remains the what he was coming out of college: an intriguing size-athletic physical specimen who is simply too finesse a run blocker and too inconsistent a pass blocker.
On the plus side, Newhouse does bring versatility to the table as he can play either tackle position. And despite being only 26 years old, he has already has a lot of starting experience. Ben McAdoo was also on the Packers’ coaching staff during all four years of Newhouse’s stay with Green Bay, so one would assume McAdoo still sees something in the offensive lineman.
“(McAdoo) was a big part (of my decision to join the Giants),” Newhouse said. “It is good to always have familiarity, and he knows what I can do. I am just looking forward to proving him right and then some.
“I can do both (play either tackle). I have played plenty of left. I have started over 20 games at left and I have played plenty at right. I can do whatever they need me to do.”
“Newhouse is another guy who brings starter experience and depth,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “He can play tackle on either the left or the right side.”
So what will Newhouse’s role be on the Giants? It is most likely that Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin envision as the primary reserve tackle behind Will Beatty at left tackle and Justin Pugh (or whomever starts) at right tackle. In effect, he has replaced James Brewer on the roster. But Newhouse failed miserably in that same role with the Bengals when called upon to play in 2014. It remains questionable at best if Newhouse can reinvigorate his career with his third team in three years. Inconsistent veterans usually don’t become more magically consistent. And soft linemen hardly ever change their stripes and become tougher and more physical players. The Giants signed offensive tackle Charles Brown in free agency last offseason. He was supposed to provide veteran depth too, but the Giants ended up cutting Brown in November. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself here with Marshall Newhouse.