The 2021 NFL trade deadline is Nov. 2, two weeks from Tuesday. The New York Giants have to be sellers. Make that, aggressive sellers. There really is no other choice for a team that is 1-5, going nowhere, and in desperate need of 2022 cap space and an honest evaluation of who will — and will not — be part of the team’s future.
Dave Gettleman may not be part of that future. Each loss, especially in the embarrassing way the Giants have lost the past two games, makes it harder to see any path for Giants’ ownership to keep Gettleman. The Giants are 16-38 in Gettleman’s four full seasons as GM, a .296 winning percentage.
Gettleman often talks about doing what is right for the Giants organization, and about a desire to leave the organization in better shape than he found it, whenever the time comes for him to retire or be removed from the Giants’ general manager post.
Right now, the job is to continue the process of stockpiling for the future that the Giants and Gettleman began in earnest with a pair of trades down in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s time to do as much as the Giants can to remove some overpaid, under-productive assets to create 2022 cap space and add draft assets. It is also time to honestly assess the team’s free agents to be, understand who should and should not be part of the future, and try to get something in return for players who will otherwise likely be allowed to walk away in free agency at season’s end.
Here is my list of players the Giants should consider trading before that Nov. 2 deadline.
TE Evan Engram — This one is a no-brainer. The Giants probably should have moved Engram in the offseason, if not at last season’s trade deadline. They have undoubtedly missed their window to maximize Engram’s trade value. The Philadelphia Eagles got a rookie cornerback and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the Arizona Cardinals for Zach Ertz. I doubt the Giants get close to that for Engram.
Still, if the Giants are honest with themselves — and honestly evaluating their own talent is something many around the game think the Giants have not done very well — they have to know they cannot give Engram a new contract at the end of this season. He is too unreliable, too injury-prone, carries too much baggage and too much connection to the failures of recent seasons. A divorce would be good for both sides.
CB James Bradberry — Along with fellow cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, Bradberry has been the poster child for Giants’ players who have not lived up to expectations, or their lofty paychecks, this season.
In the short term, there would be a question about how the Giants fill Bradberry’s spot. That shouldn’t matter because, well, really the Giants have no more games this season that really matter. The Giants have already played their way into irrelevance. Bradberry carries a completely untenable $21.863 million cap hit next season. The Giants could get out from under $12.136 million of that by dealing him. Bradberry can help a good team and would probably bring the best return of any player the Giants could move at the deadline.
S Jabrill Peppers — I’m pretty sure this one will be unpopular, at least in some quarters of the Giants’ fan base. Peppers is a popular player. He is a local kid who played for Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey. He brings a lot of energy. He is an aggressive player and excellent run defender. He can return punts. He is, though, a free agent at season’s end. Is he really worth big money?
I think not. He isn’t really a safety. He has never truly been successful roaming the deep parts of the field. He doesn’t cover well. I would like him on my team, but not for big money or counted on to be a real difference-maker.
Peppers was brought to New York in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade as the replacement for Landon Collins, whom the Giants rightly did not believe was worth big money. The mistake the Giants made with Collins was not trading him when they could have, thus getting nothing in return when they chose not to pay him. They can’t make that mistake with Peppers.
Edge Lorenzo Carter — Terrific guy. Tremendous athlete. Never the player the Giants hoped he would become when they selected him in Round 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. Carter is another free agent to be who really hasn’t done enough to be considered a core piece of the Giants’ future.
Carter has 9.5 sacks in 41 games. This season, he has one really nice interception to show for six games and 279 snaps played. Carter has no sacks just three pressures this season. His Pro Football Focus pass rush pressure rate of 2.7 is 98th among 111 qualifying edge rushers. His pass rush win rate of 6.8 percent is 101st of those 111 edge rushers.
Maybe, just maybe, there is a Shaq Barrett or Leonard Flody-type breakout coming for Carter one day. At this point, though, it is pretty apparent that it isn’t coming with the Giants. If someone else thinks they can bring that out of him, cut your losses and let them try.
WR Darius Slayton — We know that the Giants’ receiving corps in ravaged by injuries right now. That includes the hamstring injury that has cost Slayton three games. If Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney and John Ross are ever all healthy at the same time, is Slayton the odd man out?
I think Slayton could be a part of the Giants’ future. That is probably more likely than Ross being around for a few seasons. Still, no harm floating his name out there and seeing if he could bring a worthwhile return.
WR Sterling Shepard — I don’t want the Giants to trade Shepard. I do think the Giants need to pick up the phone and listen if anyone wants to make an offer for the 28-year-old slot receiver. Think Aaron Rodgers might love to have Shepard in Green Bay? He would look good catching passes from Justin Herbert with the Chargers. How about the Baltimore Ravens as a landing spot? Shepard could be a difference-maker for a team with eyes on a deep playoff run.
Players they can’t trade
I know Giants’ fans are disappointed with Golladay and Jackson right now. Neither one, though, is tradeable at this point. Golladay is in the first year of a four-year, $72 million contract ($40 million guaranteed) the Giants might come to regret if he continues to miss games. Jackson is in Year 1 of a three-year, $39 million contract that has looked like a major mistake in this season’s first six games.
No one is touching those contracts at this point.
Now, let’s talk about Saquon Barkley
There has been some chatter that the Giants should look to trade Barkley at the deadline. I absolutely get it. I also absolutely disagree with it.
Now, that doesn’t mean I think the Giants should simply hand Barkley a long-term second contract. That would be irresponsible.
I simply think a Barkley trade is not something the Giants should rush into. He basically missed all of last season. He is missing games again now with his third leg injury in as many seasons. If the Giants tried to trade him now, they would undoubtedly be selling low.
The proper thing for the Giants do is get Barkley healthy, let him play the second half of the season and — hopefully — rebuild his reputation and his value. I’m as guilty as the next writer of always saying “star running back Saquon Barkley.” I think, though, that in reality Barkley hasn’t been that player since his 2019 high ankle sprain. Not that he can’t be.
The Giants have a huge decision to make coming up soon in regards to whether or not to give Barkley a long-term second contract. My vote on that, incidentally, is no as of now. See Christian McCaffrey and Todd Gurley. The “Build Around Barkley” plan hasn’t worked to this point. I’m not sure doubling down on it with a second mega-deal is the thing to do.
I think that is a decision better left to the offseason when you have more time to work through all of the options and ramifications. There is also this — if the organization isn’t sure Gettleman will be their GM going forward, why would they let him engineer that trade? Save it for the next guy and let him build the roster his way.