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‘Things I think’ after the Giants’ free-agent splurge

The Giants are going for it, and it seems like the right move

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

‘All in.’

That is a phrase that should have meaning to New York Giants fans. Recall that it was the phrase the 2011 Giants, touched by a speech from a local high school teacher, kept near and dear to their hearts as they willed themselves to an unlikely Super Bowl title.

The Giants’ recent, and impressive, free agency spending spree is, in my view, the Giants going ‘all in’ once again.

This time, the short-term goal isn’t to win a Super Bowl. Let’s be honest — that is, or at least should be, every team’s long-term goal. The immediate goal has to be to find out once and for all if Daniel Jones, entering his critical third NFL season, is the right quarterback to lead the franchise forward.

To that end, the Giants have gone to the wall in free agency to make sure that they surround Jones with the best possible supporting cast.

On offense, they have given Jones a big-time wide receiver in Kenny Golladay who should help Jones and the offense at all three levels of the field. They also added a tight end in Kyle Rudolph who should help as both a receiver and blocker, and who seems to fit the classic tight end role that a Jason Garrett offense seems to prefer.

On defense, they got a long-term deal done with Leonard Williams and added the No. 2 cornerback it was obvious they needed.

They have also made a number of smaller signings that should help the depth and the special teams.

Here are a few more ‘things I think’ about the Giants’ free agent splurge.

Stop obsessing about the cap

I have tried to tell fans for years to stop worrying about cap space. If I needed ammunition for that argument, what the Giants have managed this offseason has without doubt proved my point.

With seemingly very little money to spend under the $182.5 million cap, the Giants have managed the following:

  • Signed Leonard Williams to a long-term deal (three years, $63 million)
  • Signed wide receiver Kenny Golladay (four years, $72 million)
  • Signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (three years, $39 million)
  • Signed tight end Kyle Rudolph
  • Signed defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo
  • Signed fullback Cullen Gillaspia
  • Signed wide receiver John Ross
  • Signed linebacker Reggie Ragland
  • Signed running back Devontae Booker
  • Reportedly signed outside linebacker Ryan Anderson
  • Re-signed defensive tackle Austin Johnson

Point is, there are always methods of creating cap space to get done whatever you want to get done. Yes, the Giants cut wide receiver Golden Tate and offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler to make cap space. Yes, they lost defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.

I think, though, it was obvious they had to move on from Tate. Zeitler and Tomlinson? It’s apparent that they could have found ways to keep those players. They choose to move on. They had other ideas for how they wanted to build their roster, how they wanted to spend their money.

We know the Giants massively restructured Nate Solder’s, knocking $7 million off his cap hit. They restructured Levin Toilolo’s deal. There will be other moves made. They have used signing bonuses and voidable years to, for accounting purposes, push money down the road.

Point is, these things can be done. Next time you get yourself all worked up wondering how the Giants are going to have money to get X, Y or Z done remember what they have accomplished this offseason. If they really want to get something done, it will get done.

“Kudos”, incidentally to assistant Gm and primary salary cap analyst Kevin Abrams of the Giants for piecing this salary cap jigsaw puzzle together.

Props to Dave Gettleman

If this doesn’t work, if Gettleman doesn’t add some good players in the upcoming draft, if Daniel Jones doesn’t prove capable of being a winning NFL quarterback, if the Giants are bad again in 2021 Gettleman is probably going to be spending 2022 and beyond enjoying retirement in Cape Cod.

I have always believed Gettleman has gotten too much flak from a disgruntled fan base. Still, the biggest card in Gettleman’s deck is the 2019 decision to pick Jones No. 6 overall. I have said this before and it is what I truly believe — if the Giants come out of the 2021 season believing they have to find a new quarterback I don’t think Gettleman should be the GM tasked with figuring out who it should be.

I don’t want to see the Giants become the Chicago Bears, where Ryan Pace gets to take futile swing after futile swing at figuring out what an NFL quarterback should look like. Or the Denver Broncos, where John Elway could somehow never seem to figure that out, either.

All of that said, and whether you think all of these moves are a desperate last attempt by Gettleman to things right with the Giants before they force him into retirement, he deserves credit for what the Giants have done here.

I have always believed that Gettleman is a GM who doesn’t dictate, but who does his best to identify what his coaches want and try to deliver that to the roster. It’s, I believe, why so many former Arizona Cardinals showed up on the Giants defense when James Bettcher was defensive coordinator.

It’s why, I believe, so many former Alabama, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins players seem to show up with the Giants.

Many of the moves the Giants have made have the fingerprints of Joe Judge, Patrick Graham and Jason Garrett on them. A good GM, though, does his best to give the coaching staff the type of players it wants. Gettleman has tried to do that here.

The Giants free agency approach has been targeted. Offensive play makers. A much-needed cornerback. Depth pieces with special teams backgrounds and ability.

You don’t win awards for your work in the offseason. There is no guarantee this will turn out well. Gettleman and the Giants, though, have taken their best shot.

“Kudos” for that.

The draft

A year ago what the Giants did — and more specifically what they did not do — in free agency proved to be a massive tell as to their NFL Draft plans. If that is the case this year, what does that mean?

We know mock draft have leaned heavily toward the Giants picking a wide receiver at No. 11. I still believe you can make a valid argument that selecting Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith of Alabama would be a good play. They are much different receivers than Golladay and as much as I like Sterling Shepard I really wonder how many of the three years left on his contract he will serve with the Giants. You can still argue there is a need there.

After the commitments they have made to James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson I have to believe cornerback is off the board at No. 11.

What has to be on the board?

The trenches, both offensively and defensively. The Giants have not replaced Kevin Zeitler, and I don’t believe they can be fully comfortable with the idea of Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux starting at guard with second-year former UDFA Kyle Murphy as the primary backup. That’s why Rashawn Slater of Northwestern is a player I’m eyeballing. I don’t think there is a defensive tackle worthy of the pick at 11. On Day 2? Absolutely — that would be very Giants-like.

Edge, or play-making linebacker, also has to be on the board. Gregory Rousseau, even though isn’t a pick I would make. Azeez Ojulari. Kwity Paye, though again not the guy I would choose. Jaelen Phillips, if you can stand the health risk. Micah Parsons. Maybe even Zaven Collins, if you believe he belongs in that conversation.

Or, trade down. We know Gettleman has never done that. Could this be the year? Personally, I have no problem with moving down a few spots and getting an extra picks somewhere from Round 2 to Round 4. In this draft class, I think that is justifiable. Especially if you can stay in the top 20 picks of Round 1.

About Adoree’ Jackson

I will admit I was surprised by the price tag, until our Nick Falato pointed out that what the Giants paid (three year, $39 million) is really the going rate for cornerbacks this offseason.

Jimmy Morris of SB Nation’s Tennessee Titans website Music City Miracles told me this about Jackson:

Adoree has all of the physical skills to be a top-10 corner in the league. He flashed that ability at times in 2019. Titans fans were really excited about what we thought we had in him.

Then he hurt his knee and things went off the rails. Reading between the lines it seems like the team thought he was healthy enough to come back and play at least a month before Adoree thought he was ready. There is nothing concrete to prove that, but it’s pretty widely believed.

All of that being said, if that knee is right and his head is right, the Giants got an elite athlete that has elite corner traits.

Jackson’s time in Tennessee did end somewhat mysteriously. Did he sit out longer than he needed to? We’ll never know.

What we do know about Jackson is that the Giants are well-positioned to keep Jackson on the straight and narrow, if that is even something they would need to do. Logan Ryan was a mentor to Jackson when he was a young player in Tennessee. Leonard Williams is a former USC teammate. Both are highly-respected players who carry Judge’s water in the Giants’ locker room. They have other veterans like Bradberry and Blake Martinez.

I don’t think keeping Jackson engaged should be an issue.

About the NFC East

One final thing I think is noteworthy. No one knows how good the Giants, or any other team, will be right now. I do think the Giants sense an opportunity in the NFC East, and have put their foot on the accelerator to try and seize it.

The Philadelphia Eagles are in flux. No one knows what to think of them right now.

The Washington Football Team is the defending champion. Washington has a terrific defense. They have Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, though. Really? You’re supposed to be scared of that?

The Dallas Cowboys? Dak. Dak. Dak. Yes, they have Dak Prescott. Yes, they have a new defensive coordinator. When, though, is the last time the Cowboys were as good as they were supposed to be? Or, as good as Jerry Jones or their fan base think they are? It’s ben a while.

So, yes, there is an opportunity. Let’s see if the Giants can grab it.