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BBV mailbag: Mini-camp, fines, roster spots, Eli Manning, much more

Let’s open the mail!

With the New York Giants having concluded mandatory mini-camp and nearing the end of their offseason program, let’s open up the BBV mailbag and see what questions you have this week.

Sean McNeill asks: I just read your piece about mini-camp this week. Your lead about it being weird caught my eye. Last week I noticed on the NFL Network that teams such as the Giants, Jets, Pats, Lions and a couple others are doing this, holding mini-camp before the final OTA. Can you discern a strategy to this? Might it be so that players can get more individualized teaching in the final OTA after coaches see what they’re offering in mini-camp? Maybe you can dig this one up this week b/c it’s a curiosity for sure.

Ed says: I didn’t ask Pat Shurmur about this and I can’t find it in any of his public remarks. I know he was asked, I believe by Art Stapleton of The Record, and his response was that he scheduled the mini-camp early because he thought the Giants might be in the Hall of Fame Game. When that didn’t happen, he just didn’t see the need to change it.

Fact is, the mini-camp is really just an extension of the OTAs. It’s just mandatory, and concentrated into three consecutive days. The practices are the same. The biggest difference is teams can keep players in the building for a few extra hours, so there is increased meeting time. Honestly, the mini-camp before OTAs conclude is not really a big thing.

Johnson Joseph asks: There is so many reports every year about players not showing up to voluntary OTAs. In the beginning, the coaches offer a short answer, “non-story quote.” By the 599th time of being asked the same question you can see the frustration and you get answer that becomes a story, “Giants are frustrated with Ed Valentine missing OTAs.” But the real question is why or how was this ever a point that was considered in the CBA. These guys are professionals, once the team starts working why is anything voluntary? Also why is there a restriction with players working with coaches in the off-season if they so desire? Am I off base or is this something that should receive serious consideration with the new CBA?

Ed says: Johnson, the amount of work that players can do in the offseason has long been a negotiated thing between teams and the NFLPA. In the last CBA, the players got a reduction in the offseason work and the end of full two-a-day practices.

Those restrictions, the work with coaches during the offseason restrictions, all of that is supposedly about player safety. Coaches would certainly like to go back to the old ways, but I seriously doubt it will happen. I, too, wish the rules weren’t so restrictive but I doubt it’s going to change.

Benjamin Hale asks: I’ve been wondering this for a long time. When players get fined for things like unsportsmanlike conduct, violation of league rules, or whatever they get fined for, where does the fine money go? Does it go to nonprofit donations like the United Way? Does it go to bonuses to league officials and the commissioner? Does it go to programs like the rookie symposium? I have no idea but I’m sure it is a lot of money over the course of the year that could do a lot of good for communities.

Ed says: The answer to this one comes straight from NFL Operations:

The fines collected do not go to the NFL, but instead go to programs for former players. The Players Association and the league have agreed to donate fine money through the NFL Foundation to the NFL Player Care Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Players Association’s Players Assistance Trust.

The Player Care Foundation, an independent organization dedicated to helping retired players improve their quality of life, provides programs and assistance with medical, emotional, financial, social and community issues.

The Gene Upshaw Players Assistance Trust assists former players who are facing financial hardship due to unforeseen crisis, unaffordable medical situations and helps those who wish to go back to school to finish their undergraduate degrees.

Michael Higgins asks: For decades college football was a running league with limited passing so it naturally took offensive linemen time to learn to pass block and adjust to the NFL. Today, despite the college game becoming mostly a passing league and their concepts catching on in the NFL, it has become harder to find a good NFL OT to protect the QB. Many of the top OTs in the 2019 draft had profiles that read, “may be better suited moving inside to guard.” Why has it become more difficult for college OTs to transition to the NFL?

Ed says: Michael, fact is that while some ‘Air Raid’ type concepts have made their way into the NFL most college teams still play a game that is vastly different than what is done in the NFL.

In college, many offensive linemen are never asked to get into a three-point stance. They are always in the upright two-point stance. That’s a huge adjustment for these guys, and there is really not much to go on to figure out how long it will take, or if a guy can do it.

Many of these guys do very little run-blocking, and the passing concepts at the collegiate level are often geared so much toward quick throws that these guys haven’t been asked to set and hold a block.

GM Dave Gettleman was actually asked about this at the Combine. He put it this way:

“So many of these guys have never punched somebody in the mouth.”

That might not be eloquent, but it’s accurate. Many of these guys just haven’t been asked to display the physicality or the techniques required in the NFL. Evaluators can see the traits, but often have very little to go on to figure out if they can actually execute the things they will be asked to do in the NFL. So, they have to project — and those players come into the league with a long learning curve.

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp
Jabrill Peppers
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

John M. Scott asks: The narrative has been that the Giants prefer Jabrill Peppers over Landon Collins which is why they made the switch. I just don’t see it that way... it wasn’t a 1-for-1 trade. They let a guy walk who would’ve cost a boatload of money, and in a separate deal they acquired a very good player who’s still on his rookie contract. I think Peppers has a lot to prove before he’s considered among the best strong safeties in the NFL, and it shouldn’t be viewed as a mistake by the organization if Collins proves to be the better player over the next few years. Your thoughts, please?

Ed says: John, you’re right that the Giants didn’t “directly” trade Collins for Peppers. In my view, you have it right. The Giants let Collins go because keeping him would have cost more than they believe he is worth. They were fortunate to get Peppers, younger and cheaper, in the Odell Beckham Jr. deal.

For me, the criteria is simple. Do the Giants collectively improve on defense, and is Peppers a big part of that? When an organization makes a decision to move on from a player, they plain and simple have to stop worrying about what that player becomes. It really no longer matters.

Rich Bostick asks: The loss of talent (OBJ, Apple, Snacks, LC, etc.), was a combination of salary and attitude adjustment. With all the new additions, two things of concern, can the wide receivers be productive enough to keep teams from keying on Barkley and how quickly will new defense comes together. My feeling is the defense will the team’s strength. Going forward, how do you see this playing out?

Ed says: Rich, I’m not worried about the wide receivers. If Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram are healthy the Giants will be fine. Guys like Corey Coleman, Cody Latimer and maybe even Darius Slayton could also make some plays. Defensively, I wouldn’t be counting on this being a dominant group just yet. Look, there is a lot of youth on the line and at cornerback. This is basically a new group on defense that has to learn to play together. Can they rush the passer? Will the secondary be as good as the Giants need it to be? There is potential, but also reason for concern.

Jamison Scotto asks: Given the Giants’ history the past several seasons with punt and kick returns, have you seen any indications for the who are leading candidates to fill those roles this year? … and what’s the competition look like?

Ed says: Jamison, there really isn’t a competition. Corey Coleman settled in nicely and proved to be an excellent kickoff returner a year ago. I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t get that job again this year. Cody Latimer and Jabrill Peppers are experienced guys who have done that job in the past, and can still do it.

In punt return, the Giants have been clear that Peppers is the No. 1 guy there. He did that in Cleveland, as well. Coleman has been working there, and Golden Tate is a guy who has done it and might be used in situations where the Giants simply want to make sure the ball gets caught.

Rookie speedster Darius Slayton has been getting looks in both roles, as well. That’s pretty much it.

Michael Bernosky asks: What are the chances of The two UDFA offensive tackles from the University of Kentucky and the University of Missouri making the final roster?

Ed says: Michael, you are talking about George Asafo-Adjei out of Kentucky and Paul Adams out of Missouri. Let’s first clarify that Asafo-Adjei was a seventh-round draft pick, not a UDFA. So, he has that slight advantage.

In all honesty, it’s difficult to say we know any more about either player or their chances to make the roster than we did when the spring began. Other than we know there is one less roster spot available because of the signing of tackle Mike Remmers. Spring workouts are in shorts and, at most, shells. Offensive and defensive linemen basically play patty-cake. You just can’t learn much because you can’t judge for certain what is a real pass rush, what is a good block, what would have been different under live conditions.

I have talked to Asafo-Adjei and to his coaches at Kentucky, and the Giants coaches have spoken highly of him. There is a lot to like about the young man. We won’t really know whether they have legitimate shots at the roster until we get to training camp and the preseason.

Chris and Fiona ask: Eli’s won/lost record is 124/118. In comparison, Roethlisberger’s is 157/77 and Rivers is 123/96. If the Giants have another bad season and Manning’s record drops below .500, could this be the kiss of death for entering the Hall of Fame?

Ed says: I didn’t check your math, but lets go off the idea that those numbers are correct. Personally, I have never been one to believe quarterbacks should be assigned won-loss records. There are too many extenuating circumstances they don’t control, even though quarterback play is always a huge factor.

That said, the point is well taken. Five or six years ago, Eli Manning had to be considered a Hall of Fame shoo-in. Now, the more the losing years pile up and the farther away we get from those championship days the harder it is to make the Hall of Fame case.

I’m not going to get long-winded in this answer, but I do believe the losing years have damaged his HOF candidacy. Whether he makes it or not will be fascinating. A really good 2019 season that included a win or two in the playoffs would really help, I think.