New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur has said in each of the past two weeks that the majority of the players who will make up the team’s 2019 roster are already in place. So, let’s assess that roster and see how many players are likely to be back in Giants’ uniforms next season.
Current (3) — Eli Manning, Kyle Lauletta, Alex Tanney
We have discussed this ... and discussed it .. and discussed it. I’m sure we will discuss it a lot more in the coming weeks and months, so I’m not spending a bunch of time on it. As things stand now, I believe the Giants will bring Manning back next season. I also believe Lauletta will be part of the equation.
The third quarterback? Perhaps a draft pick, though I still don’t believe the Giants will use a top 10 pick on a quarterback. Perhaps a young veteran who really doesn’t have a path to playing time where he is now.
Keepers (2) — Manning, Lauletta
Current (5) — Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Elijhaa Penny (fullback), Jonathan Stewart (IR), Paul Perkins (IR), Robert Martin (practice squad)
Barkley, of course, is the player the Giants offense will be built around for years to come. After that, I’m not sure how many of these guys will be wanted back.
Gallman, a fourth-round pick in 2016 by the previous regime, has never seemed to endear himself to this staff. He’s not a bad player, but with only 43 carries I’m not sure he is Shurmur’s cup of tea. Stewart? The Giants like much of what he’s done off the field. He just never showed anything on it to make him worthy of getting a second season.
Penny has done a pretty decent job in limited snaps at fullback, and gives the Giants the option of actually getting him the ball on occasion. Perkins has been a good soldier all year. Maybe he at least gets a chance to come to camp and compete.
Keepers (2) — Barkley, Penny
Current (5) — Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, Garrett Dickerson, Hakeem Valles (practice squad)
Engram showed Sunday with eight catches that when he is healthy and the Giants incorporate some plays for him into their scheme he can be a valuable part of the passing attack. Ellison? He is a good player and a guy Shurmur likes. It’s just that over the next two seasons his cap hit would total $12 million, and that’s too much for what he does. The Giants could get out from under it with just $3.75 million in dead money. Maybe the Giants re-structure his deal to lower the cap hit. Simonson is a replaceable part.
Keepers (1) — Engram. Ellison, too, if the Giants can re-structure his deal. I just can’t put him here at his current price.
Current (9) — Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer (IR), Corey Coleman, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, Jawill Davis, Quadree Henderson (IR), Alonzo Russell (practice squad)
This is really interesting. Beyond Beckham and Shepard the Giants have volume. They have a number of players who have contributed in some way during the 2018 season. How many, though, do they have who are absolute must-keep players for next season. And, on top of that, should they really be looking for a big, play-making receiver to add to this group?
The Giants are really intrigued by Coleman. He has shown tremendous value on kickoff returns, and has flashed in limited receiving opportunities. I think the Giants really want to see what he can do given a full offseason and training camp to ingratiate himself into the offense.
Russell Shepard is just a good guy to have on a roster. Excellent special teams player. Serviceable receiver. Solid veteran in the locker room. I will be surprised if he isn’t back.
Latimer? Maybe, depending on the price tag. I’m not banging the table and demanding Davis and Henderson be brought back, but the two young receivers/return men have flashed enough potential to be given the opportunity to compete for jobs next season.
Keepers (4) — Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Coleman, Russell Shepard
On the fence — Jawill Davis, Cody Latimer, Quadree Henderson
Current (12) — Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, Jamon Brown, Chad Wheeler, Evan Brown, John Greco, Brian Mihalik, Jon Halapio (IR), Nick Gates (IR), Victor Salako (practice squad), Jylan Ware (practice squad)
This group remains a work in progress. The Giants need to upgrade at right tackle. They need to re-sign Jamon Brown. He isn’t a great player, but the Giants have enough holes to fill without creating another one. With an upgrade at right tackle, he’s good enough. They need to decide if they can live with Pulley or Halapio at center. Beyond that, they need to improve the depth.
Keepers (5) — Solder, Hernandez, Pulley, Brown, Halapio
Current (9) — B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, R.J. McIntosh Josh Mauro, Kerry Wynn, Mario Edwards, John Jenkins, Kristjan Sokoli (IR), Woodrow Hamilton (practice squad)
Hill, Tomlinson and McIntosh should provide the core of the defensive line for several seasons. All are on their rookie contracts, which is a nice benefit. Wynn just keeps making himself valuable on both defense and special teams. Edwards, 24, has shown some value and probably has not played enough snaps. Mauro is a nice run defender and a James Bettcher favorite, but the Giants need to find a more dynamic player if they can.
Keepers (5) — Hill, Tomlinson, McIntosh, Wynn, Edwards
Current (6) — Olivier Vernon, Lorenzo Carter, Kareem Martin, Connor Barwin, Avery Moss (practice squad), Jordan Williams (IR)
Carter remains a work in progress, but he is a player the Giants are hoping will develop into the dynamic edge player Bettcher’s defense really needs. After a slow start, Martin has been playing better in recent weeks. He’s not a great player, but he is a useful one.
Vernon? I like him a lot. I think he is a better player than many Giants fans who simply look at his contract and sack numbers are willing to admit. I think the Giants need to add talent to a defense that isn’t nearly good enough, not subtract it. Yet, I will be surprised if Vernon is a Giant in 2019. Vernon loves the five-year, $85 million ($40.5 million guaranteed) contract he got from the Giants. I’m not sure, though, that he loves New York/New Jersey. I’m not at all sure the Giants see him as a player worth a $19.5 million 2019 cap hit. They can save $15.5 million on the cap by making Vernon a post-June 1 cut. Right now, that’s what I expect them to do.
Keepers (2) — Carter, Martin
Current (5) — B.J. Goodson, Tae Davis, Ukeme Ilegwe, Alec Ogletree, Nate Stupar
Honestly, I believe the Giants need to upgrade this position. Ogletree has brought leadership and made some plays, but he is a liability in coverage despite his five interceptions. He is also a poor tackler, tied for fifth-most missed tackles among linebackers with 16. Goodson just isn’t a three-down player. Still, as much as I believe the Giants need to improve here they have to start somewhere. I think both Goodson and Ogletree are back for another year.
Keepers (2) — Goodson, Ogletree
Current (7) — Antonio Hamilton, Grant Haley, B.W. Webb, Janoris Jenkins, Tony Lippett, Sam Beal (IR), Ronald Zamort (practice squad)
I wouldn’t have thought so even a few weeks ago, but the more I see and hear the more I think Jackrabbit will be a Giant next season. Shurmur has spoken highly of Jenkins, and he seems to have played better in recent weeks. Jenkins is a bit of a different character, but — again — this team needs to add defensive talent, not subtract it.
Webb has played well enough to be brought back, although let’s hope he ends up as depth and not an every down player. Haley has shown promise. Beal, the supplemental pick who has spent the season on IR, is a guy the Giants are hoping can be a big part of their future.
Hamilton is a nice special teams guy, but a replaceable part. Lippett hasn’t really gotten an opportunity.
Keepers (4) — Jenkins, Webb, Haley, Beal
Current (6) — Landon Collins (IR), Curtis Riley, Michael Thomas, Sean Chandler, Kenny Ladler, A.J. Howard (practice squad)
Thomas is an outstanding special teams player, a better defensive back than advertised and an outstanding locker room presence. He’s also simply a terrific human being. I’m not sure what Chandler is yet, but the Giants should bring him back and continue trying to find out.
Riley? Take my Riley, please!
The big question surrounds Collins, who can be a free agent. The only thing I know is that I absolutely don’t know what Collins and the Giants think of each other at this point. I keep coming back to the idea that the Giants can’t afford to strip away defensive talent. Collins is a really good player with a really big weakness when asked to play man-to-man coverage.
At this point, I would be surprised if the Giants fork over a rich, long-term contract for Collins. If he is a Giant in 2019, and my guess is he will be, I think he will be playing under the franchise tag.
Keepers (3) — Collins, Thomas, Chandler
Current (3) — Placekicker Aldrick Rosas, punter Riley Dixon, long-snapper Zak DeOssie
Unless DeOssie, who will be 35 next season, retires there is no reason to make any changes here. DeOssie is under contract for next season, which would be his 13th with the Giants.
Keepers (3) — Rosas, Dixon, DeOssie
If my math skills are right, and there is a reason why I went into journalism instead of accounting, I have 32 “keepers” and a handful of other players who could be brought back to compete for jobs in 2019. If I’m right, figure on 20 or so new faces on the roster next season.
That’s not close to what the Giants did entering 2018, but it still shows that there is a lot of work to be done to get this roster where it needs to be.