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Big Blue View mailbag: Dave Gettleman, Leonard Williams, offseason needs, more

The mail’s here!

Let’s open the first offseason Big Blue View Mailbag of 2021 and see what New York Giants questions come tumbling out.

Douglas Mollin asks: Hoping you could clarify the dynamic with the Giants organization.

Gettleman got the players Shurmur and Bettcher wanted. Didn’t work out.

Gettleman got the players Judge and Graham wanted. Worked out much better.

All NFL teams have collaboration between the GM, scouts and coaching staff. But it almost seems like Gettleman is rubber stamping what the coaches want.

And if Kevin Abrams hammers out the contracts and manages the salary cap, what exactly does Gettleman get credit or blame for?

This is not a critique of Gettleman either; I’m neutral on him staying or going. It’s Judge’s team at this point so if it’s OK with him, it’s OK with me. In the most basic sense, I’m just not sure what Dave does.

Ed says: I don’t think “rubber-stamping” is the right way to look at what Dave Gettleman, or any GM, does. A good general manager communicates regularly with and understands the type of players his coaching staff wants and doesn’t want. The coaching staff doesn’t have time during the season to be scouring rosters, evaluating street free agents and looking for guys who fit what the coaching staff wants. That falls to the GM and the personnel people who work for him.

The GM might present the coaching staff with the options for the players the personnel people believe fit what the coaches want, and then a decision gets made. The nitty gritty of the contracts might be on Abrams, but it still falls to the GM to figure out how to allocate resources.

I can’t tell you exactly how everything is split up or done. A good GM is working with his coaching staff, not dictating to it. He is also evaluating his scouts and doing many things behind the scenes that fans will never see in terms of the day-to-day operation of a football franchise.

Jeff Newman asks: Looking forward to next year, I think our biggest needs are (in order) WR1, Edge1, CB2, and cover LB. Do you agree? We have a lot of pending free agents that we’ll probably try to keep. That being said, and with the salary cap being what it is, there probably won’t be much money for splash free agents, maybe one, maybe. That being said, which position would you pressure in free agency and why? Any names you’re targeting?

Ed says: Jeff, I agree with the first three. I’m not so worried about the fourth one — cover linebacker. I like Tae Crowder enough to be willing to give him a chance to continue to develop next season.

I think upgrading wide receiver is a must, and the Giants have acknowledged the need for playmakers. I also think a dynamic edge player is needed. As for names, I’m really just beginning to study.

George Wallace asks: If Solder does not retire, isn’t the dead cap hit too much to stomach at $10ish million? Wouldn’t it be best to have Solder move to right tackle, move Peart to right guard, we’ve seen other tackles play guard early in career to be moved to tackle. Peart played guard in tackle. Move Zeitler to left guard.

Ed says: George, George, George. You’re reinventing the wheel here, and — honestly — way overthinking this.

Nate Solder carries a $16.5 million cap number next season. If the Giants make him a post-June 1 cut, which is what I expect them to do, they save $10 million on the salary cap and carry a $6.5 million cap hit.

As for all this stuff about moving Matt Peart and Kevin Zeitler to positions they have never played, just forget that. Peart is a tackle. Zeitler has never played anything other than right guard, and if he is a Giant in 2021 that’s where he will be.

Jason Byam asks: Is a number 2 outside corner really THAT big of a need? With Yiadom, Ryan Lewis, Julian Love, Sam Beal seems to me like the Giants have decent depth at the position in 2021.

Ed says: The Giants have a lot of guys who could man the second outside cornerback spot, sure. But, do they have anyone who can really play? Why do you think they played so much zone in 2020? Lewis is a journeyman on his eighth team in four years. Isaac Yiadom did a good enough job when the Giants sat in zone, but he missed too many tackles and the Giants didn’t trust him to cover man-to-man. Beal? Does anyone have a clue if this guy can actually play? I don’t. I’m also not sure he’s going to get the time of day from Joe Judge after opting out in 2020.

I’m curious about Julian Love, but I don’t think the Giants see him as a full-time starter at outside cornerback. The Giants might be able to get by, but Patrick Graham won’t be able to run the defense he really wants to run without another cornerback he can trust week-in and week-out in man-to-man coverage.

Jim Moriarty asks: Is there any downside to putting the Transition tag on Leonard Williams? I know it ties up the $, but we could rescind it at any time. Allows us to avoid negotiating against ourselves.

Ed says: Jim, you asked a number of questions. This one allows me to offer up a reminder of what the different tags are. From the Chicago Tribune;

There are three tags and a team can elect to use one each season. The non-exclusive franchise tag is by far the most popular of the three. What distinguishes the three tags?

The exclusive franchise tag makes the club using it the only one permitted to negotiate with the player. The player is guaranteed a one-year tender that is the average of the top five salaries at his position for that current season or 120 percent of his previous season’s salary, whichever figure is higher.

The non-exclusive franchise tag is also a one-year tender but the process of arriving at the number is more involved. Basically, the top five salaries at the player’s position over the past five seasons is determined and then it is weighed against the percentage of the salary cap for each season. Generally speaking, this will make it a little lower than the exclusive tag. The player is allowed to negotiate with other teams but the current team has the ability to match any offer or it will receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. That compensation is such that it is very rare for non-exclusive franchise tag players to actually change teams this way.

The transition tag is determined in the same manner as the non-exclusive franchise tag although it is the average of the top 10 players at the position. The club has the right of first refusal if the player negotiates a contract with another team but there is no compensation if it declines.

Now, back to the Williams question. Yes, the Giants use a “transition” tag on Williams. Teams can tag players as many as three times, though they try to avoid using the tag on the same player multiple years in succession.

If the Giants use the franchise or transition tag on Williams, he automatically gets a 20 percent raise from the $16.126 million he made in 2020. That means he would make $19,351,200 for 2021. Transition tag would also allow other teams to negotiate with Williams, and the Giants would not get compensation should he sign elsewhere. I have my doubts the tag price wold keep teams from floating long-term deals in front of Williams.

Ted Willard asks: Earlier in the season, it seemed like many were concerned that Jason Garrett would be scooped up by another team for another head coaching gig. In the last few weeks, the debate seems to be whether the Giants should get rid of him.

Since the Giants won only 1 game in the first half of the season and were 5 and 3 the second half of the season, I don’t understand this. Is this a case of that many fans and commentators can’t remember what happened more than a month ago?

Ed says: Ted, you have to look deeper than the won-loss record. Fact is, there are a lot of Giants fans who weren’t thrilled about the hire of Garrett to begin with. The slightest sign of dysfunction will send them right to the front of the “get rid of Garrett” line.

This is about the state of the Giants’ offense and the development of Daniel Jones. The Giants were 31st in the league in offense. Jones threw only 11 touchdown passes after 24 in 2019. There are many who were disappointed by the way Garrett ran the offense in 2020.

Signs are that should Garrett not get a head-coaching job the Giants will keep him and see if they can improve the personnel. That will help, but I do think Garrett is going to need to make some changes to the passing offense.

Gino Phillips asks: Is Cody Core still under contract after this year on IR? Is he worth bringing back for his special teams play. They clearly had better punt gunners last year.

Isn’t [Casey] Kreiter a dropoff from [Zak] DeOssie with respect to downfield tackles on punts? How significant is that?

Ed says: Gino, yes Core remains under contract. He signed a two-year, $4 million deal. Yes, he is absolutely worth bringing back if he is fully healthy — he’s one of the best punt gunners in the league and could have made a big difference this season. Joe Judge said when Core was injured that he was ‘definitely the kind of guy we want to work with.” So, yes, I would expect him to get an opportunity if he is healthy after his Achilles tear.

In terms of the Kreiter-DeOssie thing, I understand the question reputation-wise. Kreiter made only a single tackle in 2020, and he probably isn’t as quick getting down the field as DeOssie was in punt coverage. I don’t think it’s a major issue as I think Kreiter is more of a “normal” snapper in terms of how he gets down the field while DeOssie was more of an outlier. The primary job is to snap the ball accurately, and off the top of my head I can’t think of a single bad snap from Kreiter during the 2020 season.