After one frenzied day of free agency negotiating, here are some thoughts about the New York Giants.
The Giants have made three big moves to try and improve their defense, signing cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez, and franchise tagging defensive tackle Leonard Williams.
There are pros and cons to each signing. All are good players who provide upgrades for the Giants (including Williams), but none would be considered the best available player at the position he plays.
The thing I like most about all three of these moves is that they are short-term. The three-year deal seems to be a popular thing this free agency cycle. That’s likely because, with a new TV deal pending, players are thinking they could have an opportunity to return to free agency soon and perhaps sign even bigger deals.
From the Giants perspective, this allows them to upgrade their talent base without being tied to long-term commitments that hamstring roster and cap space if the players don’t work out as hoped.
As for Williams, I do understand that the tag is expensive (more than $16 million). Yes, he needs to show more individual production. Is Williams worth $16 million? Probably not, but that’s the NFL world we live in. There is a ridiculous amount of money available. Williams is a good player, better than B.J. Hill in my view.
Another point in favor of keeping Williams. In the current environment, when no one has any idea when teams might get to practice, having experienced players who know what they are doing has to be considered a positive.
Let’s put it another way. The deal to acquire Williams was questionable, at best, but will the Giants get more out of Williams in 2020 than they would have gotten out of whoever they would have chosen with the 68th pick they gave the New York Jets in exchange for him? Probably. That still doesn’t make the trade the right move, but tagging him does help the Giants in the upcoming season.
One final thing I like about these moves. None are aging veterans likely on the decline. The oldest of the three is Bradberry, who will be entering his age 27 season. That means the Giants have these players in what should be their best years.
Predictably, lots of gnashing and teeth and “why didn’t the Giants try him at guard?” chatter after the Dolphins handed Flowers a three-year, $30 million deal.
So, why didn’t the Giants ever try Flowers at guard? Fact is, Jerry Reese drafted Flowers to play left tackle and Reese went down swinging, insisting that Flowers was a left tackle and constructing the offensive line in such a way as to leave Ben McAdoo no choice but to play Flowers at that spot.
When Reese was removed and Gettleman and Pat Shurmur took over, the obvious need was at right tackle. So, that’s where the Giants tried Flowers.
The other reality is that no matter where the Giants tried Flowers it was probably never going to work for him in New York. His personality didn’t fit New York. He was unhappy with the Giants, and they grew increasingly unhappy with him.
I’m happy for the young man that he played well enough last year to ink a deal that should set him up for the rest of his life. I don’t, however, think he was ever going to experience that type of success as a Giant.
What about the pass rush?
No, the Giants didn’t land a premier pass rusher on Monday. As of this writing, Jadaveon Clowney is still on the market and the Giants are said to be in the mix for Clowney. Do I expect them to land him? No. I don’t know who ultimately ends up paying Clowney, but I think unless Clowney’s price tag comes down from the $22-23 million range he has been thought to be seeking that the Giants will eventually bow out.
So, what will they do?
Find other less expensive ways to supplement the pass rush in free agency and the draft. Oh, and by upgrading the defense in other ways. Like, oh, signing quality players at cornerback and linebacker.
I have been saying for a while that it’s entirely possible, perhaps even probable, that the Giants aren’t able to land a premier pass rusher this offseason. Right now, unless they are willing to meet Clowney’s price tag, that looks to be how things will unfold.
What about the offensive line?
No Jack Conklin for right tackle. No center signed as of yet. No panic. Remember, the draft is rich in quality offensive tackles. There are also quite a few centers who could come off the board on Day 2 or early on Day 3.
Maybe, just maybe, the plan is to spend on defense and draft on offense.
The Houston Texans traded away Hopkins, a far more productive player than Odell Beckham Jr. the past few seasons, and got far less in return than Gettleman got when he dealt Beckham to the Cleveland Browns. All Bill O’Brien got was a shell of the formerly terrific running back David Johnson and a second-round pick.
All I know is that deal made getting Jabrill Peppers and draft picks that turned into Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines made Gettleman’s Beckham haul look a whole lot better. To be honest, I was never unhappy with the return to begin with.
Oh, and what the Minnesota Vikings got in return for Stefon Diggs also had to make Texans’ fans cringe.