Happy Memorial Day, New York Giants fans! Please take time today to remember the reason you have a day off, and the freedoms you enjoy. Honor or thank a veteran when you get a chance.
Beyond that, this is really the beginning of summer. Get outside. Enjoy yourself. Spend time with family and friends. It’s a day during which you want to relax and have some fun.
Because our job is to give you things to read and think about when it comes to the New York Giants, here are four things you should feel good about as a Giants fan. I will do a subsequent post regarding things to worry about but it’s a beautiful, warm, sunny holiday. So, let’s stay in a happy place.
An heir apparent is in place
We can argue forever — and probably will — over whether or not GM Dave Gettleman should have/could have waited until the 17th pick to select quarterback Daniel Jones. We can argue forever — and probably will — about whether Gettleman should have selected Dwayne Haskins instead. Or taken Sam Darnold a year earlier. Or waited another year to select Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm or Tua Tagovailoa.
In my view, though, Giants fans should feel good that the “who comes after Eli Manning?” question has been answered. From the day he became general manager it was obvious that Gettleman would eventually have to make the decision. He has.
Will the choice of Jones be right? It will be years before we really know the answer to that. In my view, it is also a good thing that there aren’t “he needs to play Week 1” expectations being heaped upon Jones.
The defensive emphasis of the draft
Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur pointed out constantly during the offseason that a leaky defense that could not get key stops late in games cost them victories in 2018. Then, they traded away Olivier Vernon and saw Landon Collins leave in free agency.
Even after trading for Jabrill Peppers and adding Antoine Bethea and Markus Golden in free agency, it was obvious that the defense needed an infusion of talent. Aside from quarterback, if they were going to select one, in my view it was critical that they emphasized adding defensive players in the draft.
Seven of their 10 selections, including five straight picks from No. 17 overall (DT Dexter Lawrence) to No. 143 overall (LB Ryan Connelly) were defensive players. They traded back into the first round for cornerback DeAndre Baker.
There are still questions on defense. There is also youth, athleticism and potential.
The potential of the offense
The fact that Odell Beckham Jr. is now a member of the Cleveland Browns, and how his absence will impact the Giants’ passing game, is the first thing that comes to mind for most when considering what the Giants’ offense will look like in 2019.
That is understandable. Beckham drew the attention of multiple defenders and there was the potential for something spectacular to happen any time the Giants could get the ball into his hands.
In my view, though, I think the Giants still have plenty of capable — maybe more than capable — players to throw the ball to. Sterling Shepard is a good player. Golden Tate isn’t Beckham, but he is still a good player who caught 74 passes in what was considered a down 2018 season. Evan Engram has a history of producing more without Beckham in the lineup than with him.
I am curious to see what deep threats Corey Coleman and rookie Darius Slayton can add, if anything. Guys like Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Russell Shepard provide veteran depth and dependability.
There is also that Saquon Barkley guy. Barkley caught 91 passes a year ago, and I think the Giants just scratched the surface of the ways he can be used in the passing game. Only 33 of his catches came over the final eight games, but I believe if you examine the quality of those catches the Giants were finding more ways to attack with him toward the end of the season than they did in the beginning, when far too many of his catches were of the check down variety. Barkley, of course, does things nearly all other human beings are not capable of with the ball in his hands.
Mostly, I think Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula are experienced, quality offensive minds. They have been exposed to a number of systems and I believe they will find ways to move players around and create mismatches.
Two other points.
The Giants should field a capable, veteran offensive line. I still have questions about how good center Jon Halapio is, how much Mike Remmers will upgrade right tackle and how much depth there is, but as a group this unit should function better than any the Giants have had in several years.
Finally, I’m just not buying that Eli Manning is complete toast as a quarterback. I have said that the biggest difference in Manning in recent years hasn’t been declining arm strength. It has been declining trust in his protection. He simply has looked uncomfortable far too often. If the Giants can make him comfortable I think they can still play good offense with him in 2019. We saw that the second half of last season.
The 2020 offseason
Gettleman likes to say that the Giants are “building,” and also to remind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Over two offseasons, the GM has shed a number high-priced veterans. He just went through a draft where he had accumulated 12 selections, and wound up using them to manipulate his way into coming out of Round 1 with a quarterback of the future and two probable Week 1 defensive starters.
The bad news is that because of the moves with veteran players the Giants are carrying far more dead money ($33.656 million per Over The Cap, second-most in the NFL) than anyone would like.
The good news? Look at the situation they are staring at next offseason.
First, with a third-round compensatory pick expected for Landon Collins, a seventh-round compensatory pick expected for Mario Edwards and a seventh-round pick coming from the trade of Eli Apple the Giants look like they will have 10 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Back-to-back years of double-digit draft picks is a nice way to help the building process.
Second, Over The Cap estimates that the Giants will have roughly $65.2 million to spend on a projected $200 million salary cap. That’s seventh-most in the league. That number will, of course, change some. Just remember that they should have significant resources to work with during free agency.