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Big Blue View mailbag: Defense in the draft, cap questions, 2021 outlook, more

The mail’s here!

The New York Giants had a busy week with Leonard Williams getting tagged and Kevin Zeitler getting cut as the team gears up for free agency. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what is inside.

Jason Byam asks: Instead of focusing on the 31st ranked offense and adding a playmaker, any chance the Giants would look to go all in on their defense? Try and establish a truly dominate defense using most of their resources on that side of the ball? Seems to me their Defense is much closer to being dominate than their offense and with Saquon coming back maybe their offense could be ‘good enough.’

Ed says: Jason, defense is obviously a possibility at No. 11. I believe wide receiver is more likely, but the Giants have defensive needs and their will be deserving defensive players at 11. If the Giants took linebacker Micah Parsons [Prospect of the Week profile], or went with cornerbacks Patrick Surtain or Caleb Farley [round table debate]. If they selected an edge rusher I wouldn’t like it, but I would certainly understand it.

So, yes, fixing their offense this offseason has to be the primary priority. That doesn’t mean the pick at No. 11 absolutely has to be an offensive player. If the Giants believe there is a defensive player on the board who will have a bigger impact, so be it.

Casey Hamlin asks: Hi Ed; does the fact that the Giants have little cap room and no bonafide star or low overall talent signify the organization overvalues its players? Don’t get me wrong – Saquon Barkley is very good. But, he hasn’t lifted this team out of a losing record. Did the team just have to eat a lot of “dead money”? Do other teams tend to run into similar situations with “dead money”? It seems to me like teams like Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Kansas City have stars or much higher level of talent and yet are not dealing with similar issues? Case in point is Wayne Gallman. Wayne is a good RB. Not great, but good and certainly a good back up – the Giants don’t seem to have the ability to re-sign him due to their cap issues.

It is no secret this team needs edge rushers and WR help. It doesn’t end there. They are low in talent levels in several areas.

Interested to hear your take on the Giants evaluation of personnel and how they manage their cap in comparison to other teams who seem to be able to carry higher talent levels.

Ed says: Casey, I don’t think the Giants current cap situation says that they overvalue their players at all. You have to remember that the salary cap has been in existence since 1994 and this is the first time the cap has EVER gone down. As they were signing players over the past two or three years, no one could have planned for that. if the cap was, say, $210 million we wouldn’t be questioning the team’s cap management at all.

Now, have they made some bad decisions? Undoubtedly. The Golden Tate signing was a mistake. I have always defended the Nate Solder signing because if you go back in time the choice Gettleman and the Giants had was leave Ereck Flowers at left tackle or overpay for Solder. They chose to overpay for Solder, which I really couldn’t blame them for, and it hasn’t worked out.

As for some of the other teams you mention, I beg to differ. Did you happen to notice that the Chiefs this week released both of their starting offensive tackles? That the Saints have released a loooong list of players and still are well above the cap?

As for some teams managing the cap better than others, I’m sure there is some merit to that. I haven’t done an exhaustive study. I thought the Giants showed some progress in their thinking with the shorter contracts they gave James Bradberry and Blake Martinez last offseason. Thing is, when you are in a position where you are not drafting, developing and keeping your own players — which the Giants did not do well for a very long time — you are in the position of being forced to chase free agents, which leads to overpaying and ending up with bad contracts on your books that cause cap problems.

The key is to draft well so that you don’t have to overspend in an effort to fix your mistakes.

Randy Tatano asks: With all the discussion about the salary cap, I was just wondering... what’s the penalty if a team doesn’t get under the cap? And have the Giants ever run into this situation?

Ed says: Randy, it’s a hard cap. Whatever the number is each year, and this year it is $182.5 million, teams MUST be under it when the league year starts. This year, that’s March 17.

This is not like baseball, where you can spend as much as you please but you pay a luxury tax over a pre-determined payroll amount. The $182.5 million is all that can be spent. Period.

Here is a little more, via Russell Street Report:

The short answer is that teams can’t because the league approves all contracts and would not approve a contract that would result in a team going over the Cap. If a team were to go over the Cap because of the acceleration of unaccounted-for bonus pro-rations due to the trade or release of a player, the CBA mandates that the team has 7 days to come into Cap compliance. That would mean that the team would have to find a way – likely via the restructure or release of another player – to come into Cap compliance.

There have been a couple of instances where teams were discovered to have agreed to payments to players that circumvented the Salary Cap. The Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers were penalized draft picks and fined for agreeing to undisclosed, non-contract payments to players.

Billy Pilgrim asks: It seems to me that wide receivers are starting to become a commodity in the NFL similar to running backs in that you probably shouldn’t invest a top half first round pick on. The way the college game is, numerous talented WR’s are being turned out every year. Recent history is showing that you are just as apt to draft a “successful” play making WR in the second round as the first. With that in mind doesn’t it make sense to draft an offensive tackle like Slater and then draft a WR in the second? There is a much better chance that a stud OT is going to be around contributing for 10 years than a WR. If I was DG there are only 3 players I’d be wanting to draft at #11 (of course the QBs are out). The three are Sewell, Pitts, and Slater. With Sewell and Pitts definitely off the board I would take Slater, and if he was gone, I would then trade down and still use the second rounder on a WR. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Billy, of course it makes sense. I tend to agree that evidence over the past few seasons has been that teams have not done a good job evaluating the wide receiver position, and that many of the Day 2 selections (like D.K. Metcalf) have been more successful than the Day 1 selections (like John Ross or Henry Ruggs).

It all depends on how the Giants have players graded. If Jaylen Waddle is there, they have a higher grade on him than they do on Rashawn Slater, and they think Waddle can be special then fine, take Waddle. If they have a higher grade on Slater, Micah Parsons or Patrick Surtain, take that guy.

There will be quality receivers available after Round 1, so if the Giants decide to wait to add talent at that spot I would certainly understand it. Wide receiver isn’t their only need. Take the player you have the strongest belief in as a guy who will help your football team, regardless of position.

Douglas Mollin asks: Most agree we have holes/questions at: OL, WR, Edge, OLB, CB2, RB2. And obviously DJ ... does he step up a level or not?

We have free agency, the draft and then hopefully a normal training camp to put the pieces together.

There’s been a lot of teeth gnashing on BBV, but on a scale of 1-10, how optimistic are you (at this admittedly early stage) that Getty/Judge will field a team capable of winning the NFC East?

Ed says: Douglas, I’m not really into that whole “on a scale of 1-10” thing and I really don’t have any idea where I would fall on that curve. Let me try to give you the best answer I can, though.

I think Joe Judge has a good first season as head coach, and I have confidence that he’s going to be around a lot longer than Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur were. I think Judge is capable of seeing the big picture, knowing what he wants the product to look like, and having a plan for how he wants to get it there.

I know many gave up on Dave Gettleman a long time ago. There have been mistakes, undoubtedly, but Gettleman and the Giants had a good offseason a year ago. Fans like to blame the GM for everything, but I’ve always believed that Gettleman doesn’t dictate to his coaching staff. I have always believed him when he says decisions are a collaboration, meaning that when mistakes are made they are organizational and not just the GM’s. Gettleman and Judge appear to work well together, and that gives me confidence.

Now, much depends on Daniel Jones. I want to believe in Jones. I have said many times there are many reasons to think he will succeed. Yet, he has to do it and there is no way to know.

In addition, can the Giants young players continue to get better? Can they have another productive offseason with limited cap space? What happens with the rest of the NFC East.

So many questions. I feel better than I have in quite some time about where the Giants are and where they are headed. I can’t go predicting an NFC East title, though, at least not before knowing how the offseason unfolds.