Eli Apple is now a member of the New Orleans Saints, the New York Giants having shipped him off on Tuesday in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick and a 2020 seventh-rounder. Damon Harrison is now a member of the Detroit Lions, sent packing for a fifth-round pick.
Let’s examine what’s been done, what might be yet to come, and what probably isn’t going to happen.
Trading Eli Apple
The trade of Apple is the clearest sign yet that the “Clean Slate Era” is over. Apple, the 2016 first-round pick by former GM Jerry Reese, sees his tumultuous time with the Giants come to an end. That follows by just a couple of weeks the Giants jettisoning Reese’s failed 2015 first-round pick, offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.
The Giants, in fact, have set about pretty much erasing Reese’s draft picks from their roster.
- 2011 first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the offseason.
- 2013 first-round pick Justin Pugh was allowed to walk in free agency.
- So, too, was 2014 second-round pick Weston Richburg. Other 2014 picks let go during the offseason were safety Nat Berhe and linebacker Devon Kennard.
- Darian Thompson, Jerell Adams and now Apple are gone from the 2016 class.
- Davis Webb and Adam Bisnowaty are gone from the 2017 class.
The only Reese first-round picks who remain are Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) and Evan Engram (2017).
Trading Damon Harrison
The trade of Harrison is also understandable. As terrific as he is as a run-stuffer, he is really just that in a league dominated by the pass.
Harrison will be 30 before the season ends. He has a massive contract with cap hits of $8.6 million next season and $10.85 million in 2020. If my math is right (Pat Traina, please help me!) the Giants will save a shade more than $4.3 million this season by trading him now.
In their current circumstance, with impressive third-round pick B.J. Hill being a natural hit at the nose tackle position, dealing Harrison made sense. Remember also that the Giants have a couple of weeks to make a decision on whether to activate or IR fifth-round pick R.J. McIntosh, a defensive end. Moving Hill from end to nose clears a path to get McIntosh on the field if the Giants believe he’s ready.
Why were the Giants able to get a fourth- and seventh-round pick for Apple but only a fifth-round pick for Harrison, who would seem to be the better player?
Simple, really. Age and contract. Apple is a 23-year-old still on his rookie contract. Harrison is a soon-to-be 30-year-old with more than $20 million remaining on his five-year, $46.25 million deal.
With the NFL trade deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. ET less than a week away what other business might the Giants be able to conduct between now and then?
What they almost certainly won’t do
That would be to trade quarterback Eli Manning. First of all, Manning’s contract carries a full no-trade clause. Manning has a home in New Jersey, a wife, and three young daughters. He told WFAN’s Mike Francesa he isn’t thinking about going elsewhere.
“I haven’t thought about the trade scenario and hey, this organization is the only team I’ve ever played for and only thing I know,” Manning told Francesa. “I love the Giants. It’s hard to imagine being with another organization.”
Even if he does OK a trade, are there are suitors?
The only team that really makes any sense for Manning is the Jacksonville Jaguars, where Tom Coughlin is in charge of personnel and the Jaguars are figuring out that Blake Bortles isn’t going to win them a championship. Still, Jacksonville reportedly has no plans to trade for a quarterback.
That leaves Manning and the Giants together for at least the rest of this season.
Coach Pat Shurmur was asked Tuesday if he thought Manning would still be the Giants’ quarterback after the trade deadline.
“Yes, I do. I think Eli will be our quarterback,” Shurmur said. “He has been, and he’ll continue to be here.”
For how long is anyone’s guess. A couple of games? The rest of the season? Into next year?
The only thing we seem to know is that Manning is almost certainly going to remain a member of the Giants for the remainder of the season.
What else can they do?
Maybe not as much as you might think, or hope.
GM Dave Gettleman has been sending Reese era draft picks out the door with alacrity, and teams would certainly be wise to call the Giants and ask about Landon Collins, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. Those, though, are young building-block players good not only on the field but in the locker room. It seems unlikely the Giants would be willing to part with those guys, especially when their actions are making it apparent they are more about the future than the present.
The only two highly-paid veteran players left who might draw interest from other teams are cornerback Janoris Jenkins and EDGE player Olivier Vernon.
Jenkins is an obvious candidate to go — if the Giants can find a suitor for the cornerback, who turns 30 in just a few days. There is a report that the Pittsburgh Steelers have shown some interest in Jenkins, but he really isn’t an easy sell.
First, he’s 30. Second, including what he is owed for the rest of this season, he has more than $30 million left on his five-year, $62.5 million contract. Third, he really hasn’t played well since 2016, the only Pro Bowl season of his career, which is now in its seventh season.
With Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie gone, Jenkins is the last of the trio of cornerbacks who were suspended in 2017 to be on the roster. Considering the tear down the Giants are currently engaged in it would seem stunning if he were in their plans for 2019. If the Giants can get anything for Jackrabbit they figure to take it.
Vernon is the only highly-paid defender who seems more likely to stay. There is, in fact, a report that the Giants are not shopping Vernon.
Yes, he’s been injured a lot over the past two seasons. Yes, he’s overpaid and still has more than $40 million remaining on five-year, $85 million contract. He is, however, still just 28. When he is on the field, he is an impact player — the only pass rusher the Giants have who draws a double team from opposing offenses. His work ethic and quiet locker room demeanor set a good example for the younger players around him.
Perhaps if someone were to approach the Giants and overwhelm them with an offer for Vernon they would take it, but that seems unlikely to happen. He probably stays.