Gettleman, no plan. That’s what Colin Cowherd said on his three-word game to describe the Giants after free agency and the draft. He’s not the first, and he’s certainly not the last NFL reporter or sports television personality to hack through the Giants GM’s masterplans with a metaphorical chainsaw.
An eternal optimist, there’s no way true fans of Big Blue can admit to themselves that Gettleman is leading the team down a rabbit hole. Some of the signs haven’t been the most straight-forward and easily digestible; letting Landon Collins go scot free, trading one of the best wide receivers in the game in Odell Beckham Jr, and letting a Pro Bowl edge rusher go without bringing in a heralded replacement.
Good or bad, these kinds of bold decisions can only point towards a mass culture change for the team, switching tact and looking at new ways to make the New York Football Giants great again. Here are my thoughts on the three phases over the next 12 months that will play out for the G-men, perhaps with just a pinch of pie-in-the-sky optimism.
The 2019 Season: 4-12
Please don’t mistake my predictions for negativity, it’s more coming to grips with the trials and tribulations of the previous off-season. Just like city neighbors the New York Knicks, the Giants will be operating with a much, much younger core this season in comparison to any other year. Here’s a list of some of the players who are expected to start this season who are still on rookie contracts; Will Hernandez, Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, BJ Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, Lorenzo Carter, BJ Goodson, Dexter Lawrence, Deandre Baker, Jabrill Peppers, and Kareem Martin.
The offense was never the Giants biggest issue in 2018, it was a leaky defense. Potentially 7-8 of the 11 starters are on rookie deals, which means veterans such as Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, and Antoine Bethea have a really important job on their hands this year to help the youngsters through what I’m calling a ‘trial season’. Although they may be better off in the long run, the fact of the matter is that the Giants lost three Pro Bowlers this off-season in OBJ, Collins, and Vernon, and they’re replacements Golden Tate, Jabrill Peppers and Markus Golden (or Oshane Ximines even) are not exactly like-for-like deputies. This is a project, not a quick fix like the Giants have tried to do over the past few seasons.
In terms of the winnable games this season, in my eyes they have been blessed with some very winnable home games and a very difficult road schedule. Although there is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL, I can’t see anyone predicting the Giants will definitively lose at home to the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills.
The season will be about individual progression, and hopefully, some of the rookies and second-year players will gain confidence from strong performances as they look to cling tightly to their places in the team come 2020.
Free Agency 2020
Looking back at 2016, the last time the Giants had a significant amount of cap space, it ultimately did not go very well. Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison are all gone, leaving just Janoris Jenkins from their significant free-agency pick-ups. With a projected $80-$90 million of cap space, Gettleman has got to move wise and bring in the right guys. Here are three players the Giant should pursue:
Jadeveon Clowney – Houston Texans
One of THE BEST players heading into free agency, Clowney is a bonafide stud, as well as being a former number one overall pick in the draft. He recorded nine sacks last season, as well as 47 tackles and 21 quarterback hits. He’s like a dog chasing a rabbit, but something isn’t quite right in Houston who opted to franchise tag the pass rusher rather than sign him to a long term contract. The word coming out from Houston is that they do want to extend his deal, but would Clowney prefer to shop around next year and take a swing at being a New York Football Giant?
Jack Conklin – Tennesse Titans
From defense to O-Line, Jack Conklin, a former Michigan State Spartan and number eight overall pick in 2016 could be moving on next summer after the Titans declined to take up the fifth year of his contract, letting him hit the market in 2020. Since his ACL tear in 2017, Titans fans believe that Conklin isn’t quite at the standard anymore of the $13 million a year he’s slated to earn by staying in Nashville. The Giants definitely will be in the market for another high caliber offensive tackle in either free agency or the draft, and Conklin may be their best bet.
Bobby Wagner – Seattle Seahawks
A Rolls-Royce of inside linebackers, in my opinion, Bobby Wagner is quietly one of the best inside linebackers the NFL has seen in the modern day era. Teetering on the verge of being an ever-present at the Pro Bowl, last season he recorded 138 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and a touchdown. Wagner is one of Seattle’s very best players now the Legion of Boom is well and truly over, and admittedly he is the kind of guy who I can see retiring a Seahawk. But wouldn’t it be nice to dream? Ogletree is not getting any younger!
NFL Draft 2020
Quarterback? Check. Okay, let’s go! I anticipate that the Giants might get the fourth or pick in the draft after finishing the season at 4-12. Let’s take an early look at who might be available around those spots for the G-men.
Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)
What did I say earlier? The Giants will need a tackle, and Thomas is the creme de la creme of tackles in the 2020 draft. He has impressed a lot of people in his first few years as a Bulldog, with his athleticism and length being one of the main reasons why he’s admired so much. With the guy he’s charged with protecting, Jake Fromm expected to be a first round QB, Thomas has a big year ahead, and if Fromm succeeds, so will Thomas.
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Some are calling him the next Julio Jones due to his inexplicable height-weight-speed. He’s going to be the talk of the Crimson Tide next season when he catches deep ball after deep ball from Tua and tries to propel Bama back to the top of college football. He’s the out and out most gifted receiver in the draft, and this man might be too hard to pass up on if he falls to them. Finally filling that gap OBJ left for good?
Derrick Brown (DE/DT, Auburn)
If Brown had have declared this year, he would have been a first-round draft pick without a shadow of a doubt, but he played it smart and went back to school for one more year. In a class full of talented D-Linemen and edge rushers, Brown almost guaranteed himself a top 10, maybe even top 5 pick next season, as long as he continues to impress in 2019. At 6ft 5in and 316 lbs, he’s a big scary guy when he runs at you and has that dual versatility that can see him wreak havoc both on the inside and off the edge.