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Big Blue View mailbag: DeAndre Baker, Dave Gettleman’s future, more

The mail’s here!

With the New York Giants back to work trying to get ready for the 2020 NFL season, let’s open this week’s Big Blue View Mailbag and see what’s on your mind.

Daniel Garrihy asks: Regarding DeAndre Baker, I seem to recall that when the Giants drafted him, he was quoted as saying he was surprised because he had not spoken with the team in the pre-draft process. I remember raising an eyebrow at that because we gave up extra draft capital to move up for him. I get the sense that Dave Gettleman will retire, by choice or otherwise, after this season, but how can the organization account for his reckless disdain for draft capital and lack of due diligence on this one?

Ed says: Daniel, “reckless disdain for draft capital and lack of due diligence.” Really?

I don’t consider the move up for Baker “reckless disdain.” It ended up being a mistake, but it’s not “reckless disdain.” Trading draft capital to move up for a player he and the organization really want has always been Gettleman’s M.O. as a GM. He and the organization understood what they were giving up, but they thought he was the best cornerback in the draft and would be worth it.

As for “lack of due diligence,” you have to be kidding me. Do you have any idea how many months, how many hours, teams put into studying players? How many people they talk to about these kids, especially the ones at the top of the board? How much time they end up spending with a kid and studying a kid? How many hundreds of pages of reports they end up with?

If you think they don’t know everything possible about a kid they are considering taking at the top of the draft, you’re fooling yourself. That said, it’s not an exact science. Teams get it wrong, sometimes. Probably more often than any GM wants to admit. You just have to get the great majority of your key decisions right. The problem I had with Jerry Reese was that there was a six- or seven-year stretch where almost everything he did went sideways. Gettleman has made mistakes, but he’s gotten enough right that I don’t think we are there with him yet.

Let’s say Gettleman ends up being right about Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, Andrew Thomas and Xavier McKinney. He is wrong, though, about Baker. If that turns out being the case I think he could make the case that is a pretty good track record.

I’m not defending the Baker move. It was the wrong one. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Giants could have gotten a cornerback in Round 2 if they wanted one and held onto their other assets.

Could Gettleman retire — of his own volition or with a “push” from Giants’ ownership at the end of the season? Sure. Let’s see how things pan out before we bury him, though.

Douglas Mollin asks: Assuming we have a season, we should learn a lot about Getty’s three offseasons and three drafts. And we should go into 2021 with a reasonable expectation of contending for the playoffs.

My question is whether or not you think Getty is the GM to get us through the next phase? Specifically, to determine which of the current players start to get paid, who gets traded and who we let walk.

As much as I appreciate Getty’s ability as a scout, I’m not 100 percent sold on him building a complete team, managing the roster, contract negotiations, i.e., the nuts and bolts of being a GM and maximizing finite resources.

Ed says: Douglas, I expressed some of my thoughts on Gettleman above. There is, though, more to say based off your question. So, here we go.

I have no idea how much longer Gettleman wants to be the GM. When he was hired in December of 2017 this is what he said:

“My plan is to come in here every day and kick ass. I’m gonna keep doing it until they either take my key card or the Lord calls me home.”

Does he still feel that way? Gettleman is 69, he went through a serious fight with lymphoma after becoming Giants GM, and he has talked more in the few recent conversations we have had with him about retiring to Cape Cod and watching Daniel Jones and the other young players he has helped bring to the franchise lead the Giants into the future.

Much depends, I think, on his health. On how things turn out this season, especially how many of the players he has brought in perform. On his working relationship with Joe Judge. I have my doubts that Gettleman will stay on a whole lot longer, but given his choice I could see two or three more seasons.

You raise an interesting point about Gettleman as a scout vs. a “roster builder” and his ability to maximize resources. I think Gettleman can identify talent — his career-long work in doing so speaks to that. I do sometimes wonder if he has a clear understanding of the big picture of roster building, and how maybe there are better ways to use capital than to hone in on a single player you “have to have” and give up valuable resources, or the chance to acquire other resources, to make that happen.

I think there are three examples in his Giants’ tenure:

  • Drafting Saquon Barkley No. 2 overall — As great as Barkley is, and I’m glad he is a Giant, there remains an argument to be made that the Giants’ rebuild would be farther along had they traded that pick in 2018 for three or four Day 1 and Day 2 draft picks.
  • The Baker deal, which I addressed above.
  • The Leonard Williams trade — Williams is a really good player, better than many Giants fans want to admit. He’s just not a dynamic guy who produces a volume of game-changing plays. He’s costing the Giants more money than his 2019 production should have warranted. He also cost them a third-round pick (68th) overall that could have been used on a player like Temple’s Matt Hennessy, who went 78th to the Atlanta Falcons. I was told several times prior to the draft that the Giants loved Hennessy and would take him if they could. They didn’t have a pick there and couldn’t grab the guy who might be the prohibitive favorite to be their starting center — if he was on their roster.

Dave Kamens asks: Now that the Giants have signed all their rookies, what does their cap space look like? Will they have money to go get another kicker to compete for that position?

Ed says: Dave, the Giants’ salary cap picture obviously changed after Nate Solder chose to opt out of the 2020 season. That cleared $9.9 million, per my understanding, which was to be Solder’s base salary this season. The NFLPA salary cap page shows the Giants, as of Thursday morning, with $16.604 million in cap space.

So, yes, even without Solder’s opt out they would have had money to find another placekicker if they decide that Chandler Catanzaro isn’t their cup of tea.

I would not expect the Giants to go out and use a big chunk of that money. Because of league-wide financial losses due to COVID-19, the 2021 salary cap could be as low as $175 million, down from this season’s $198.2 million. That means teams will have decisions to make, and the more cap room they can hang onto now the more breathing room they will have to make those decisions next offseason.

George Wallace asks: Now that Solder opted out, do you think the Giants entertain trading for Yannick Ngakoue? I’m a no, but want to hear your thoughts.

Ed says: George, I think the Giants’ play for a pass rusher for 2020 was using the unrestricted free agent tag on Markus Golden. Months ago when the whole Ngakoue-Jacksonville Jaguars split happened I thought it made sense for the Giants to make a play for him, but not now. They have added Kyler Fackrell. Golden will be back. The Giants have high hopes for Oshane Ximines. As I said above, making a big-money splash right now — especially one that costs premium draft capital, doesn’t seem to make sense. You have to keep the long-term in mind, and maintaining some cap flexibility for 2021 and beyond is critical.