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Big Blue View mailbag: Evan Engram, Nate Solder, more questions

The mail’s here!

Let’s get right to your Big Blue View Mailbag and see what New York Giants questions we can answer.

Jerry Panza asks: I see the Giants just inked two reserve / future T.E.’s Nakia Griffin-Stewart and Nate Wieting The two-part TE question I have is why would the Giants even consider giving Evan Engram any more time to show he is what we all believed he would be for the Giants. Clearly he is at best a fast runner. He can’t block and well, he has not been very good at catching passes. I for one have seen as much as I can take with Engram. So he goes somewhere and does well, so be it if he does. I wish him well and to have success. But I think his Giants clock has run out. Also I’m wondering if the Giants should also cut their losses and jettison Levine Toilolo and just move on having just signed these two young TEs.

Ed says: Jerry, there are a couple of things to unpack in that question.

First, Evan Engram. Believe me, I fully understand the Engram fatigue. After he dropped that ball against the Philadelphia Eagles I even did something I fight against doing, which is react emotionally to that and call for Engram to be traded. Engram wasn’t nearly as good as he needs to be during the 2020 season. There is just no excuse for a guy drafted in the first round as a pass catcher to turn so many easily catchable balls into disastrous interceptions.

Engram struggled with drops as a rookie. He struggled in Year 4. In-between, though, he was solid, dropping only six passes over that two-year span. Engram has talent. He has a lot of the skills teams want in a move or matchup tight end. I could understand if the Giants moved on from him and maybe they will, but as frustrating as Engram can be there’s a valid argument for going forward with him for another year. He did catch 63 passes, fifth-most among tight ends in 2020, and make some big plays.

As for Levine Toilolo, I don’t really see a reason for the Giants to bring him back. I’m not sure Griffin-Stewart or Wieting is the answer — they are undrafted guys who didn’t stick in the league in 2020. I just wasn’t impressed by Toilolo.

Jeff Newman asks: I understand that if the Giants cut Nate Solder post-June 1, they will save $10 million instead of $6 million if they cut him prior. What happens if he chooses to retire? What will the Giants owe him and how will it affect the cap?

Ed says: Jeff. this is a question that came up a while ago. I checked with Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, and if Solder were to retire there would be $10.5 million on the books in dead money for 2021. As I understand it, that is pro-rated bonus money. Other than that, nothing else.

Douglas Mollin asks: Saw this in The Athletic: Pro Football Focus ranked the Giants offensive line 31st in the league this season. None of the eight remaining playoff teams ranked lower than 16th (Ravens). Seven of the teams ranked in the top 11, with the Browns (No. 1), Packers (No. 2), Rams (No. 3) and Buccaneers (No. 5) leading the way.

BBVers are talking about adding help at WR1, CB2 and Edge in various order. But can we be confident that the OLine will develop and get closer to the middle of the pack? Should we devote more resources (draft and/or free agency) to shoring it up further?

Ed says: Douglas, in my view there should be optimism about the young guys on the offensive line. I would say I feel good about the futures of Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates and Matt Peart. I believe that’s a group that will improve over time. What’s the ceiling? No idea.

Should the Giants devote more resources to the offensive line? Of course. One of the reasons the line fell into disrepair was a stretch of seasons a few years back where the line was largely ignored, followed by a couple of misses when attention finally was paid. How high the priority is depends on their internal evaluations of guys like Peart, Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez. To me, if the Giants have a chance to add a player they think can be a free agent upgrade or to draft a young player on the second or third day of the draft they believe can develop they should do so.

Ronald Buchheim asks: Thanks for your comprehensive running backs analysis, Ed.

I’d like to mention that Barkley average is 4.7 yards per carry versus 4.6 for Gallman, which means they’re essentially equally effective overall. Yes Barkley is much more explosive, but Gallman has one big advantage that you didn’t mention: unlike Barkley, who often dances behind the line, Gallman hits the hole quickly and is almost never tackled for a loss, again unlike Barkley. That is why, despite Barkley’s occasional longer runs, their averages are basically the same. I haven’t checked the stats, but gally may be possibly be more effective at the goal line for that reason. So given that they are almost equivalent running backs, that Gallman may perhaps be more durable, and that Barkley is returning from major surgery, I don’t see why Barkley is worth so much more money than Gallman. Am I missing something?

Ed says: Ronald, Barkley and Gallman are different types of backs. Gallman is a hit the hole as quick as he can and take what’s available runner. He doesn’t have the speed or ability to make defenders miss that Barkley does. He gets his extra yards by pushing the pile.

Barkley is a guy who looks to hit the home run every time he touches the ball. Now, that gets him in trouble sometimes because he does have an annoying habit of turning a 1-yard gain into a 3-yard loss.

Calling Barkley and Gallman “equivalent running backs” is simply not right. Gallman is a grinder who got every inch he could get in 2020. He’s still a fourth-round pick who had to wait until his fourth season for a full opportunity. Pre-knee injury Barkley is one of the most explosive runners in the game, a tremendous athlete who can make plays Gallman simply can’t make and can impact the passing game in a way few other running backs do. As for durability, Gallman had a career-high 145 touches in 2020. Barkley had 352 touches as a rookie and 269 a year ago when he missed 3½ games. It’s not an apt comparison.

There are, undoubtedly, have been times I have wished Barkley would just get north and south and take the yard or two. Hopefully, he learns to do that. There are times to try for a home run and times to just take what’s there.

Gallman had a nice year, no doubt. He could be a valuable piece if the Giants can keep him. The whole idea that he is as good as Barkley, though, is just not true.