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Fixing the Giants: Assessing Barnwell’s five-point plan

How closely does it align with what we have been discussing?

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles
Johnathan Hankins
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

We have spent much of the last six weeks discussing the offseason priorities for the New York Giants. Today, let’s look at that topic from a different perspective. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has laid out a five-point offseason plan for each NFC East team. Let’s take a look.

Release Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings and J.T. Thomas III

This is right in line with the recommendations I made a week ago. Move on from players whose best football is in the rearview mirror, or really never panned out with the Giants, save the $13 million in cap space and use it to try and improve the roster.

Pick up Odell Beckham’s fifth-year option

We haven’t discussed that topic at all, but it’s a no-brainer. Do that, worry about the mountain of cash you will have to spend to get Beckham’s name on a long-term deal later.

Try to re-sign Johnathan Hankins

Barnwell is recommending investing in Hankins, who is younger and healthier although not as talented, instead of Jason Pierre-Paul.

Here’s part of what Barnwell wrote:

As tempting as it might be to go after Jason Pierre-Paul, who looked like his old self during the second half of the 2016 season, JPP has been inconsistent and has injury issues even independent of his fireworks incident, including a back ailment that required surgery in 2013. Hankins, 24, is younger and wildly underrated, particularly as an interior penetrator. He knocked down opposing quarterbacks 10 times in 2016 and had a seven-sack season as recently as 2014. Hankins is a better bet to age well over his next deal than Pierre-Paul.

Barnwell is right that Hankins may be more productive over the length of a long-term deal. He will also be far less expensive. If Pierre-Paul wants something approaching the five-year, $85 million deal the Giants gave Oliver Vernon the Giants simply have to let someone else give it to him. That’s hard to swallow because he will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace quickly.

Barnwell is recommending using the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul, which would give the Giants leverage but might create a contentious situation because JPP has already said he wouldn’t sign it.

Extend Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg

No argument here. The Giants have enough problems on their offensive without letting the two best players they have in that group reach the open market in a year.

Upgrade the right side of the offensive line

Interestingly, Barnwell makes no mention of the left tackle spot. Now, Ereck Flowers’ struggles at that spot have been well-documented. Looking at the free-agent market, though, the only obvious left tackle upgrade is Andrew Whitworth of the Cincinnati Bengals. He would be a brilliant get for the Giants, but that doesn’t mean they can get him. He might stay in Cincinnati. Even if he leaves he’s 35, looking for one last payday, and might want an absurd amount of money.

The draft? I’m all in favor of grabbing Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin or Garett Bolles of Utah in the right situation, but do you want a rookie protecting the blind side of Eli Manning. Even if you draft a tackle, maybe the best idea is to leave Flowers at left tackle and let the rookie develop on the right. We know about Flowers’ technique issues, and we know that switching sides isn’t going to fix them. It might, in fact, make them worse by forcing him to do everything the opposite of how he has done it the past several years.

The best plan might be to upgrade the right side and hope that Flowers, who did improve somewhat in his second season, becomes at least adequate on the left side in Year 3. In the process you draft a guy who could eventually slide to the left to provide some competition for Flowers, who hasn’t had any in his two seasons.