Rebuild? What rebuild?
After the Giants dealt Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns the narrative — and I bought into a lot of it — was that the Giants had finally acknowledged that they were in need of a complete rebuild.
Then, on Thursday the Giants announced the signing of safety Antoine Bethea, who will be 35 next season, and news broke that they will be adding wide receiver Golden Tate, who will be 31.
One thing I’ve learned about Gettleman over the past couple of years is that if you go back and really look at things that he has said in the past they help explain actions taken in the present. I warned for months that his “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him” wasn’t a blanket “we won’t trade him.” It left him an exit ramp, and when the Browns made him an offer he liked he took it.
Here is something the general manager said in January at his season-ending press conference:
“I just hate the word rebuild. You just keep going, you just keep building. It’s really what we’re doing here. We’re doing our best to accumulate the talent that fits our schemes, and that understands how to play the game, and hates to flippin’ lose. That’s what it’s really all about, and we’re going to continue to do this and get it right. We’re going to fix it.”
Building. Not rebuilding.
Here is something else that Gettleman said. Warning — it may leave you with an unshakeable graphic image that will mess up your day.
“I’m on that tight rope, and me in a tutu on a tightrope ain’t pretty,” Gettleman said. “It’s the tight rope of you want to win now, you want to get those wins now because you’ve got a coaching staff whose fannies are on the line every Sunday, and you want to set the team up, the franchise up, for sustained success.”
There it is. Sustained success. The holy grail.
Gettleman has no interest in completely sacrificing the present, which is the connotation of a true from the ground up rebuild. He wants to win as much as he can in the present while laying a foundation that will lead to teams that can consistently contend down the line.
Can you do both? How?
Here are some of my thoughts on where Gettleman is going, and why he is doing what he is doing.
Culture is critical
Gettleman says it over ... and over ... and over.
“Talent sets the stage. Character sets the ceiling,” he said at the Combine. “Unfortunately guys who have character issues create distractions. They do.
“My point is, you’ve got to eliminate distractions.”
Agree or disagree, it’s a big part of why Beckham is in Cleveland. It’s part of why Eli Apple is in New Orleans. There are other examples if you look over the decisions of the past couple of offseasons.
I also think it’s part of why Tate and Bethea are Giants. Both are veterans who have been successful players and won Super Bowl titles. Nate Solder is in that category. Jonathan Stewart, Connor Barwin, Michael Thomas were among veterans signed last year partially for their presence and what they could teach their younger teammates about being NFL players.
“We’re only going to bring quality people in here that hate to lose,” Gettleman said. “That will stay the same.”
Run the ball, stop the run, rush the passer
To many, those are antiquated tenets of an NFL that is gone. To Gettleman, they remain truths.
He talks about “hog mollies” or how “it’s a big man’s game” or how you can’t rush the passer if you can’t stop the run first.
He’s reconstructing the roster — on both sides of the ball — from the inside out.
If the Giants can get Mike Remmers to sign on the dotted line Friday, the offensive line rebuild will be complete. For now. Gettleman has said, and proven while in Carolina, that he will always add to that group. Remmers, though, would allow the Giants use their first-round resources to find a quarterback or build the defense.
He added B.J. Hill, Lorenzo Carter and R.J. McIntosh to the front seven last year. Markus Golden came via free agency Thursday. Adding front seven talent will undoubtedly continue in the draft.
Building through the draft and gaining flexibility
Gettleman has said that accumulating draft picks is part of the plan. As it should be. When you are a bad team with holes to fill that’s the best long-term strategy. That gives you the best chance of building long-term success, the best chance of growing a core from within. and yes, I know that moving on from Landon Collins goes against the idea of “growing a core from within.”
The Giants have 12 picks in the upcoming draft. That gives them room to maneuver. Or, to simply make their picks and stockpile players.
Gettleman has also jettisoned a number or large contracts — most of which belonged to popular, talented players.
Cap numbers are fluid, but if you believe the numbers at Spotrac as of Friday morning the Giants would have $126 million in cap space based on this year’s $188.2 million cap number. That’s the most in the league. Over The Cap shows $99 million, ninth in the league. Obviously, the two sites are counting somewhat different things. Either way, it’s a lot of money available.
Gettleman, then, has put the Giants into a situation where they have a tremendous amount of flexibility between now and the 2020 season.
This is the one that is the long-term key to everything. I know this won’t happen, but fans and the media should really stop obsessing about Eli Manning being the quarterback in 2019.
Who the quarterback is next season really isn’t the most important part of that equation. It’s who comes after. Right now, I’m not convinced the Giants know.
Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and even guys like Daniel Jones and a couple of others have their supporters. Some believe it should be Josh Rosen if the Arizona Cardinals make him available. Some think the best play is to build the roster and wait until 2020, when there theoretically should be more top-tier options in the draft.
When you talk to people about the Giants and the quarterback succession plan, you hear a lot of different things. Which leads me to the conclusion that inside the walls of 1925 Giants Drive in East Rutherford there likely is not a unanimous opinion right now among the team’s decision-makers.
I remain steadfast in the belief that it doesn’t really matter if they get their quarterback of the future this offseason. What matters is that whenever they make that move, they get it right.