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How much blame should fall at the feet of Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman?

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And, should he get the chance to stay on?

NFL: New York Giants at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

How much blame should general manager Dave Gettleman get for the current plight of the New York Giants? The Giants are 7-21 since he became GM and Pat Shurmur became head coach. We know there is a lot of chatter about whether Shurmur should be brought back next season.

Gettleman’s culpability, and whether or not he should be brought back to continue trying to build the Giants back to respectability, is another source of debate. Let’s try the best we can to assess the work Gettleman has done.

Over the summer Gettleman asked the fan base for trust.

“Give us some credit for the experience in our resumes,” Gettleman said. “They’ve just gotta trust.

“Pat (Shurmur) has been coaching a long time. I’ve been doing this a long time. Kevin Abrams (assistant GM), Mark, Koncz (director of player personnel), Kennie Sternfeld (director of pro personnel), Chris Pettit (director of college scouting). We’ve all been doing this a long time. We’re professionals.”

So, let’s look at whether two years into a heavily-scrutinized tenure that hasn’t included much winning but has included a number of controversial decisions Gettleman should be trusted to continue trying to get the Giants’ ship righted.

To be honest, I think the GM’s work is tough to assess in some ways, especially with just a two-year window to look at. How well are the players he drafted, traded for and signed being used? How well are they being coached and developed? What were the circumstances or reasons why certain players were signed, and others let go? If a player doesn’t succeed was he the wrong choice, or are there factors out of the GM’s control at fault?

After all of that, though, the bottom line is the GM’s job is to build a winning roster. To this point, Gettleman hasn’t done that. Let’s break down Gettleman’s two seasons of work into three categories — the draft, free agency, trades.


New York Giants v Chicago Bears Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Draft

2018 class
Rd. 1 (No. 2) — RB Saquon Barkley
Rd. 2 (No. 34) — Will Hernandez (G)
Rd. 3 (No. 66) — EDGE Lorenzo Carter
Rd. 3 (No. 69) — DL B.J. Hill
Rd. 4 (No. 108) — QB Kyle Lauletta
Rd. 5 (No. 139) — DT RJ McIntosh

2019 class
Rd. 1 (No. 6) — QB Daniel Jones
Rd. 1 (No. 17) — DL Dexter Lawrence
Rd. 1 (No. 30) — CB DeAndre Baker
Rd. 3 (No. 95) — EDGE Oshane Ximines
Rd. 4 (No. 108) — DB Julian Love
Rd. 5 (No. 143) — LB Ryan Connelly
Rd. 5 (No. 171) — WR Darius Slayton
Rd. 6 (No. 180) — CB Corey Ballentine
Rd. 7 (No. 232) — OT George Asafo-Adjei
Rd. 7 (No. 245) — DT Chris Slayton

How you feel about the two draft classes Gettleman has presided over with the Giants depends on which question you are trying to answer.

Question 1: Has Gettleman, for the most part, drafted quality players who should make up the Giants’ core for the next several years: Answer: Yes.

Question 2: Has Gettleman maximized the value of the draft capital at his disposal? Answer: No.

To his credit, Gettleman has added a tremendous player in Barkley, a quarterback of the future in Jones, good players in Hernandez and Lawrence and a group of intriguing Day 3 picks in the 2019 draft.

Could he have done more to accelerate the rebuild by trading the No. 2 pick in 2018 for several picks? Probably. We can argue all day about the positional value of taking a running back that early. It is, though, hard to say taking a player as good as Barkley was wrong. Still, I think the flaw in the plan at that point was that just a few months into the job Gettleman perhaps hadn’t come to terms with the depth of the rebuild he had on his hands. I think he thought Manning, Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. could buy him time to fix the underbelly of the roster. That didn’t happen.

The 2019 draft will be shaped first and foremost by what type of quarterback Jones ends up being. If he becomes a great one, a lot of other questions disappear.

The other problem, as of now, with the 2019 draft is the Baker trade. I think we always knew, given his history of targeting players and trading picks to get the guy he wants, that Gettleman was never going to make 12 picks. The Giants thought he was the best cornerback in the draft, and If Baker becomes a No. 1 corner the price will have been worthwhile. The signs, though, have not been encouraging.

Four cornerbacks — Sean Murphy-Bunting (39, Tampa Bay), Trayvon Mullen (40, Oakland), Joejuan Williams (45, New England) and Greedy Williams (46, Cleveland) went shortly after the 37 spot where the Giants were originally set to pick. So, the position could have been addressed without surrendering other assets.

Offensive tackle Cody Ford, a season-long starter for the Buffalo Bills, went 38th. The Giants gave up picks No. 132 and 142 to select Baker. Not only has the rookie struggled, but perhaps those were picks the Giants could have used to move around the board for a pass rusher or offensive lineman.

Overall, I would say that Gettleman’s two drafts have been good in the sense that I believe you can now see a young core potentially beginning to develop. There is also the hope/excitement of potentially having a long-term answer at quarterback. There were, though, opportunities for Gettleman to do even better.


Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Trades

2018
— Traded a fourth-round pick (135th) and sixth-round pick (176th) to Rams for LB Alec Ogletree and a 2019 seventh-round pick (245th, DT Chris Slayton)

— DE Jason Pierre-Paul and a 2018 fourth-round pick (102nd overall) to Tampa Bay for 2018 fourth-round pick (No. 108, QB Kyle Lauletta) and third-round pick (No. 69, DT B.J. Hill)

— 2019 seventh-round pick (220th) to Denver Broncos for punter Riley Dixon

— C Brett Jones to Vikings for 2029 seventh-round pick (232nd, OT George Asafo-Adjei)

— CB Eli Apple to Saints for 2019 fourth-round pick (132nd overall, traded) and a 2020 seventh-round pick

— DT Damon Harrison to Lions for 2019 fifth-round pick (142nd overall, traded)

2019
— WR Odell Beckham Jr. and EDGE Olivier Vernon to Cleveland Browns for S Jabrill Peppers, G Kevin Zeitler, a first-round pick (17th, DL Dexter Lawrence) and a third-round pick (95th, EDGE Oshane Ximines)

— Sent a 2020 third-round pick and a 2012 conditional pick (third- or fourth-round) to New York Jets for DL Leonard Williams

I have no real problem with any of the 2018 trades. Getting a third-round pick for Pierre-Paul was a terrific value, and I understood the reasons for moving on from Apple and Harrison.

The Beckham to Cleveland trade is one that Gettleman will forever be attached to. Others will disagree, but I had no problem with the trade or the return. The relationship had become untenable. If you want to play the coulda/woulda/shoulda game the Giants probably should have done this before giving Beckham a mega-contract, but I’m fine with the fact that they eventually did it. By the way, have you noticed that Beckham is having the worst season of his career, averaging nearly two catches and nearly 25 yards fewer per game than he did as a Giant? Oh, and he’s been making noises about perhaps not being all-in long-term with the Browns.

The Williams deal remains hard to understand. The Giants apparently saw a 25-year-old underperforming player who was better than what they could obtain with an early third-round pick. He looks, though, like a complementary player, and rebuilding teams shouldn’t be giving up draft picks for complementary players who are headed to free agency. It seems more like the kind of move a winning team would make to fortify a weakness. Plus, Williams is cutting into the playing time of B.J. Hill, a 2018 third-round pick. So, in a way, he is costing them three draft picks.


Tennessee Titans v New York Giants Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Free agency

Notable signings
(2018)
LT Nate Solder
RB Jonathan Stewart
EDGE Kareem Martin
G Patrick Omameh
DB Michael Thomas

2019
WR Golden Tate
EDGE Markus Golden
OT Mike Remmers
S Antoine Bethea

Notable losses — LB Devon Kennard, S Landon Collins, OL Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg

Free agency hasn’t been kind to Gettleman. That, honestly, has been a bit surprising to me since he spent most of his first tenure with the Giants in pro personnel.

The 2018 signings of Omameh and Stewart simply didn’t work out. At least, though, Gettleman owned those mistakes and moved on.

Many want to crush the GM for the Solder signing, and it was an overpay. Still, I will defend that signing. Solder has never been an elite player, but in his two seasons with the Giants he’s been pretty much what he was in New England. He just has an elite contract, which is what happens when you are forced to go into free agency and shop at the top of the market. The Giants at the time simply had no choice but to make some type of free agency move to upgrade the offensive line, Solder was the best available tackle and Gettleman and the Giants paid the price they had to pay.

The questionable move for me this past offseason is, in retrospect, the four-year, $37.5 million deal given to Tate. He remains a curious fit with Sterling Shepard, and he is 31.

Final thoughts

Gettleman’s two seasons have been a mixed bag.

There has been more good, in my view, than bad in his two drafts. With the development of the remaining players from 2018 stalled, though, what we don’t have an answer to is whether the GM overestimated them or the coaching staff isn’t developing them.

Most of his trades are understandable, though we know the Baker and Williams moves aren’t paying dividends yet. The free-agent signings? Another mixed bag.

If he remains as general manager, Gettleman will have another free agent opportunity. Perhaps this one will be his best chance yet. One thing the embattled GM has managed to do is set the Giants up in a much-improved 2020 salary cap situation. On a projected $200 million cap for next season, the Giants are estimated to have more than $63 million available. That should be enough to add some much-needed veteran talent.

The work Gettleman did over the past two seasons put the Giants in a good position for the 2020 offseason, even though the Williams move squandered a premium asset.

I don’t know what the Giants will do, but I keep coming back to the idea that ownership isn’t fond of major upheaval. I think Gettleman has made mistakes, including perhaps not acknowledging or even initially realizing how big the job of fixing this team was going to be. He finally said this summer that “Unfortunately, you can’t turn this thing on a dime. It’s impossible.”

The core question is, are the Giants of today better off than where Gettleman found them two years ago? Record-wise, obviously not. I think, though, that they have the beginnings of a young core that didn’t exist when Gettleman took over. They have a young quarterback who might carry the franchise for the next decade or so.

Maybe it’s because I’m also old-school, but I think Gettleman has the right team-building philosophy. Even if the execution hasn’t always been on the mark.

Provided that Gettleman, who will be 69 in February and had a scary battle with lymphoma slightly more than a year ago, is healthy I think I would be OK with the Giants giving him at least one more offseason to execute his plan.