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Big Blue View mailbag, 9/5: Roster cuts edition

It’s roster cut down day, as NFL teams have to reach the 53-man regular-season roster limit by 4 p.m. ET. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag while we wait for cuts.

Douglas Mollin asks: I’ve been reading BBV comments speculating on Judge’s impact on roster decisions (draft, free agents, roster makeup, etc).

Obviously significant communication is needed between the scouts, the GM and the coaches on every team.

But I’d think that the GM would be the driving force on how a roster is constructed — positional value, salary cap, future contracts to be doled out, etc.

For example, I’ve seen the Baker draft pick laid at the feet of Bettcher often now. There were reports of disagreement among the Giants about whether or not to trade up for him, so maybe it’s true. But the buck should always stop at Getty’s desk — both the good, the bad and the ugly, no?.

How do you see the dynamic working with the Giants? And how do successful NFL franchises tend to handle it?

Ed says: Doug, the Giants always call it a “collaboration.” I’m inclined to believe that is accurate. No 38-year-old rookie head coach is going to get to dictate personnel. That said, Judge and any head coach should have a pretty large influence. Part of the general manager’s job is to understand his head coach, understand his coaching staff, know what they want/need to succeed and try to identify that type of player.

I think you lay the final decision at the feet of the GM. But no good GM simply picks players in a vacuum and dictates to the head coach who he’s going to work with. That is a recipe for disaster. I think Dave Gettleman works hard to identify players that Joe Judge and his staff would like to work with, and I think they make decisions together.

When it comes to the Baker pick, I don’t know if that is one James Bettcher banged the table for. I’m not going to kick a horse when he’s down by speculating and blaming him for that. In the end, Gettleman made this move and it didn’t work. That’s on him. I’m not saying the Giants should have seen criminal activity coming from Baker. No way they could have. But, this went wrong and the GM has to own it.

As for how “successful” teams do it, there is no one size fits all model. There are teams with strong GMs and coaches who just coach whoever they are given. There are collaborative teams. There are teams like the Seattle Seahawks where Pete Carroll doesn’t have the GM title but does seem to have most of the personnel control. As long as the working relationship between the GM and head coach are good and they understand who does wahat and who makes which decisions then it’s fine.


Jim Jordan asks: A day or two after it ran, I read that John Mara said that he hadn’t really known anything about Judge before he was interviewed and, as a result wasn’t really expecting much when he and Judge did meet. My question is, who was it in the Giants organization that championed Judge and put him on the team’s radar when it seems he wasn’t being widely considered for a head coaching position?

Ed says: Jim, Mara knew of Judge. He told us that much after Judge was hired. He did not know him personally and did not have any expectations when Judge interviewed, because there wasn’t anything to go on. I think everybody knew Judge would eventually become a head coach. The Giants were just curious enough to see if he seemed ready yet.

There is no way to know for sure who championed Judge or who really put together the list of coaches the Giants interviewed. It is, though, common practice for teams to consider New England Patriots assistants and it was pretty widely known in NFL circles, as far as I can tell, how much regard Bill Belichick had for Judge.


George Wallace asks: Do you think signing Jon Halapio means Nick Gates will be at right tackle and Halapio at center?

Ed says: No. George, I’ve talked about this a number of times on my podcast and here on the site. I believe Jon Halapio was signed because he is, in the Giants’ view, a better and more versatile player than Spencer Pulley. He will provide better depth and be less expensive. After working Gates at center the entire training camp the Giants aren’t going to shove him out to right tackle.

We will find out soon if I’m right on this one.

Also, remember that Halapio will not get his first practice with the team — which is running a whole different playbook than last season — until next week.


Mike Rosenberger asks: I understand DeAndre Baker is being paid while on the commissioner’s exempt list. I also understand he remains with the team, but he is not counted against the 53.

My question: does the fact he is being paid in 2020 mean that his 2020 cap hit if not for his Florida escapades ($2.3 million in salary and pro-rated bonus, if I recall) applies to the 2020 cap? If the team incurs no cap consequence for Baker this year, when does that money hit the cap? It has to hit sometime, doesn’t it?

Ed says: Mike, my understanding (using Over The Cap as a guide) is that cutting Baker would save the Giants $2.539 million against the cap while leaving them with $4.751 million in dead money for 2020. I’m not certain, though, if the Giants can go after any of that money if/when Baker is found guilty of any of the crimes he is charged with.


Barry Block asks: We know that teams will always carry players for their special teams role. Nate Ebner is listed as a safety but we know he isn’t going to take snaps there other than in an emergency. Holton, if he is on the roster, basically plugs in for Cody Core, which is the same sort of deal at WR.

My question is, how many roster slots on the 53 can the Giants dedicate to players whose value is solely on STs, beyond the P/PK/LS? Two seems reasonable to me, but not more than that, on a young team with some depth issues like ours.

The team’s answer should show up in the cuts. I’m looking at Haley, as one example, he could be very good on coverage teams, he’s a sound tackler with good instincts. But he can’t play CB on defense because he can’t cover; if David Sills V can burn him at will, so can at least 2 WR’s on at least 29 of the other teams in the league. I’d like to think Judge will prefer a backup player, at any position, who can perform at least passably in his offense/defense role as well as contribute on STs.

Is it possible Holton doesn’t make the cut, in favor of one of the younger WR’s? And where does Sean Chandler fit into all of this?

Ed says: Barry, we will know the answers to all of this by the end of the day on Saturday. I don’t think you can carry a whole lot of guys who are special teams first, like Ebner and Holton. That may really be all you a team can afford.

Things are a little different now, though. The new CBA allows teams to dress 48 players on game days rather than 46, provided at least eight of them are offensive linemen. That provides a little more wiggle room to keep a player or two specifically for special teams. The Patriots always kept Ebner and Matthew Slater for those roles. I think that’s about the most a team can afford.

As for Sean Chandler, I don’t have him making the 53-man roster. We’ll see.


Bruce Frazer asks: Let’s say that at some point this season New Jersey tells the Giants that will allow 5,000 or 6,000 people to attend the games at Met Life. Just how would it be determined who gets to go to the stadium and see the game? Seniority based season ticket holders? I can see how choosing some people over others might not go over very well!

Ed says: Bruce, that topic hasn’t come up. It’s a little bit of putting the cart before the horse. First, you have to able to allow fans to attend, then you have to figure out how many.

My guess would be that those PSL/season ticket holders who opted in this season, who opted to pay for season tickets with no guarantee of getting to see games, would get first dibs. Maybe that would be on a rotation if there are more season ticket owners than fans allowed.

Let’s hope that’s a problem the Giants have to find a solution for.