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Justin Pugh sees himself 'in driver's seat' for new deal

Justin Pugh is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and the Giants offensive lineman is ready to enjoy the benefits of a new cash flow.

"I'm sitting in the driver's seat," Pugh told the New York Post regarding his contract situation.

Pugh was Pro Football Focus' No. 13-ranked guard out of 77 qualifiers last season. A first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, he's suited up at both tackle and guard positions along New York's offensive line in his first four seasons in the league.

"I've played good football," he said. "I know how important this year is for me. I think this is the best Giants team I've been on, so I think the sky's the limit for the team and myself."

While the Giants will have lofty expectations after another busy offseason, Pugh anchors an offensive line that will be facing several questions heading into this campaign. Big Blue is hoping that third-year linemen Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart can each take a big step forward at the tackle spots. If either struggle, Pugh's versatility could be in play.

Unfortunately for the fifth-year guard, he's had trouble staying healthy. Pugh missed five contests last season with a sprained MCL. He hasn't played in all 16 games since his rookie year in 2013.

If Pugh can stay off the injury report this upcoming season, he could potentially have a juicy reward waiting in the wings. A few guards have gotten paid this offseason to stay with their team. The Browns gave Joel Bitonio a five-year, $51.2 million extension, while the Chiefs shelled out a five-year, $41.25 million extension to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

Pugh is hoping to follow a similar path.

"Trust me, I noticed," Pugh said. "Some of the guards are really good players who have not made Pro Bowls, guys that have missed significant time and have gotten paid a lot of money. I know where I sit in that hierarchy. I also know the Giants need to do right by me, too.

"I've gone out there and done everything they've ever asked me to do. So I know my worth. I'm going to go out there and play my best season of football and hopefully the Giants say, 'Let's pay him what he deserves.'"

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