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Big Blue View mailbag, 3/28: Free agency, Dave Gettleman’s future, more

The mail’s here!

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We still have no idea when football, or any sport, will return. We do know it is Saturday, which means it’s Big Blue View mailbag day. So, let’s open some virus-free mail and see what New York Giants questions we can address.

Dave Bleecker asks: I’ve seen a few writers say that Getty is finally, “embracing the rebuild,” ostensibly acknowledging that they aren’t in “win now” mode. If that’s the case, what does that mean for the W/L ratio that allows him to keep his job? Does .500 with a seemingly strong locker room keep his facility card active?

Ed says: Thanks for the question, Dave. I will preemptively say I think — no, I know — that a lot of Giants fans are not going to like my answer.

Fact is, we are in uncharted waters in the NFL due to COVID-19. Team facilities are shut down and it seems fairly certain there won’t be any offseason programs. We’ll probably be fortunate if NFL training camps open on time.

The Giants have a young rookie head coach and a new coaching staff. They have a second-year quarterback. They are almost certainly going to lose the two-week head start teams with first-year head coaches get. Common sense tells you this puts the Giants in a very difficult situation entering the 2020 season, and that is something Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy talked about recently on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. Nobody wants to hear it, but with a new head coach, young quarterback and new offensive and defensive schemes to install and learn it is going to be very difficult for the Giants to be as prepared for the season as teams with established coaches and coordinators.

With all of that said, I don’t think you can put a won-lost expectation on the 2020 Giants. When the organization hired Joe Judge co-owner John Mara said he recognized the Giants were going to have to show more patience than they had with Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.

In that same vein, I don’t think you can say “if the Giants don’t win at least ‘X’ number of games in 2020 Gettleman has to be fired.”

I think it’s a more subjective judgment. How are he and Judge working together? Are they or are they not on the same page with the type of players they want? How does Gettleman handle the draft? When the 2020 is all said and done, regardless of record, does ownership believe there is a core of players in place the Giants can win with going forward? Do they still believe in Gettleman?

Everybody wants to see a better product than the Giants have put on the field in recent years. This is just a difficult year to put any sort of “must-win” mandate on the Giants. There are just too many unknowns right now that really handicap a team with a rookie head coach.

Ian Baxter asks: It seems to me that the main hesitation with drafting OT in the first round is none of the “Big 4” have separated themselves from the others. I’ve heard this used as justification that none of them are truly elite and worthy of such a high pick in a draft that’s projected to be deep with OL talent. However, considering the other side of that argument, is it possible that none of them separated themselves because all four have the potential to be elite? Based on my (admittedly somewhat limited) film study, they all seem to have the traits NFL teams are looking for ... Is this more of an “eye of the beholder” situation or do you think there are clear differences among the Big 4 OTs as far as NFL potential?

Ed says: Ian, I do think there will be a certain “eye of the beholder” factor when it comes to what order the Big 4 offensive tackles — Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills, Andrew Thomas — are selected in the draft.

Senior Bowl executive Director Jim Nagy, a veteran of 18 years of scouting for NFL teams, says he sees players who won’t bust, but who also won’t be All-Pro or Hall of Fame caliber players when he studies those tackles.

Everyone has different biases and sees different things no matter what we’re looking at — including scouting football players. I had an interesting conversation with Scouting Academy Director Dan Hatman about this before last year’s draft. You have to try to put your biases away and be objective, and yet we see completely different conclusions from analysts about how these tackles rank.

The real argument for/against a tackle at No. 4 is about the defensive players who could be available. You aren’t going to get an Isaiah Simmons, Chase Young, Derrick Brown or Jeffrey Okudah in Round 2. You can probably still get a starting offensive tackle at the top of the second round. There are those who think guys like Josh Jones (Houston), Ezra Cleveland (Boise State) and maybe a couple of other guys are as good or better than players in that Big 4.

Eric Chavis asks: Has there been any discussion whether Leonard Williams is opposed to playing on the franchise tag? Is he someone we should anticipate seeing a holdout with?

Ed says: Eric, I haven’t heard any chatter regarding whether or not Williams in happy or unhappy about the tag. My $.02 is he shouldn’t be unhappy at all. Had he stayed with the New York Jets last season and then hit the free agent market I can’t imagine anyone signing him to a $16 million deal for the upcoming season.

The Giants and Williams have until July 15 to try and work out a multi-year deal. With no OTAs going on and no clue right now if teams will be allowed to get together before that date there is absolutely no reason for Williams to sign the tag right now.

Ray Kochert asks: With the activity in free agency vs the players released or not resigned, wave we improved our roster, or just filled vacancies?

Ed says: Pro Football Focus says the Giants are third-most improved team in the NFL since free agency began. You’ll view that however you view it, depending on how stock you put in the computer model PFF used to come up with that metric.

Here’s how I look at it:

  • James Bradberry is better than any other cornerback on the roster.
  • Blake Martinez is an upgrade from Alec Ogletree.
  • Several of the other signees — Colt McCoy, Dion Lewis, Levine Toilolo, Cameron Fleming, Austin Johnson — are useful players who, if nothing else, improve the Giants’ depth. I don’t want to see guys like Jon Hilliman and Eric Smith, who aren’t NFL players, forced onto the field in 2020.
  • I won’t try to tell you that Kyler Fackrell is an upgrade from Markus Golden. Fackrell, though, could be a guy who helps the 2020 defense.
  • I would rather have Michael Thomas than Nate Ebner because Thomas is a useful defender in addition to outstanding special teams player. Yet, I get why Joe Judge wanted Ebner after all the success they had together with the Patriots.

How much better are the Giants overall? I honestly have no idea. I think they have done a lot of the right things, at least targeting the right positions, in free agency. I’m optimistic that the defense has a chance to be better because of what they have done, though pass rush remains a concern. I want to see more done to upgrade the offensive line.

I think free agency has left the Giants with fewer major question marks. In that sense, I guess you could say they have gotten better.

Jeff Newman asks: I know you’re in favor of the Giants trading down in this years draft. You’ve also discussed the SLIM possibility of Young ​falling to the Giants at pick 4. Just for fun, say Young actually does fall to 4. Is there any REALISTIC trade down scenario(s) that you pass on Young in favor of and if so, which one(s)?

Ed says: No. Jeff, do you remember what Dave Gettleman said about drafting Saquon Barkley a couple of years ago? That he told his staff to not even bother picking up the phone if teams called wanting to move up for that No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft? That’s where I’m at with Young.

If, somehow, he’s there I’m taking him. Why would you even think twice? He’s commonly acknowledged as the best player in the 2020 draft class, and just happens to possess a skillset and play a position where the Giants have a Mack truck-sized need.

For grins, though, here is one WHOLLY UNREALISTIC scenario where I would trade the No. 4 pick with Young on the board. If the Miami Dolphins are foolish enough to offer all three of their first-round picks (Nos. 5, 18, 26) to move up one spot I would do that. I probably still get Young in that scenario. They aren’t, though, going to offer that. So, I’m sitting at No. 4 and thanking my lucky stars at how fortunate I am.

Joseph Marrongelle asks: The Giants spent $60 million on the signed free agents which appears to be quantity over quality. There are ten teams with remaining cap space between $24 million & $47 million, 3 of which made the playoffs last year. Generally speaking, losing teams have fewer elite players resulting in ample cap space to sign other players. If we accept that notion, the Giants mismanaged their cap space (especially without Eli Manning’s salary) compared to 7 teams with losing records who have substantial cap space.

Your thoughts on this matter and also explain how the Dallas Cowboys can fit the top salaried QB, the top salaried RB, the top salaried WR, the top salaried EDGE, the top salaried OT and two high salaried LBs into their team cap space?

Ed says: Joseph, I’m going to disagree with the notion that the Giants mismanaged their cap this time around. On the contrary, while they have spent a little more than I know GM Dave Gettleman said he hoped to the Giants did an outstanding job not tying themselves to a bunch of long-term deals that could leave them carrying boatloads of dead money if/when they move on from the guys they signed.

There are no contract longer than three years, and all of the deals are front loaded with roster bonuses. James Bradberry is getting $31.98 million guaranteed in his three-year deal and $29.98 million of that is guaranteed at signing. The way the contract is structured means that if the Giants want to get out of Year 3 of the deal they can do that with no dead money.

As for the Cowboys, reality is their cap usage doesn’t look all that different than the Giants. Each team has six players with 2020 cap hits of more than $10 million. The Giants have nine players with cap hits from $3 million to $10 million. The Cowboys have eight.

In reality, the Cowboys have just done a better job figuring out which players to spend premium dollars on.

Mike asks: I wanted to throw a scenario out at you and get your thoughts.

In my scenario Burrows, Young, & Okudah go 1, 2, 3.

At No. 4 the Giants would trade their pick to Miami for 5 & 26 or San Diego for 6 and their second-rounder.

When the Giants picked at 5 or 6 say they pick Wirfs or Becton. If you were the Giants, would you be willing to trade the Giants second rounder, the extra picks from trading back, and the Giants 2021 first rounder for the chance to jump back up into the top 10 to get Simmons?

Know the price would be steep though the thought/idea of having generational type pieces at two important positions sounds quite enticing. Or at least thought provoking in my opinion.

Ed says: Mike, thanks for the question. No, I’m not making that deal. Zero chance I’m giving up a 2021 first-round pick. No way, no how. Now, if someone would take picks 26 and 36 or two-second-round picks, sure. But, I don’t think there’s a GM in the league dumb enough to do that. Not even Bill O’Brien. Well, maybe O’Brien, but the Houston Texans don’t have a top 10 pick.