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Big Blue View mailbag: GM/head coach searches, roster rebuild, more

The mail’s here!

With Dave Gettleman having retired and Joe Judge having been fired, the New York Giants are right back to the beginning. There are questions, lots of questions. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and try to answer some.

Jason Byam asks: I see people on BBV and all over Giants twitterverse furious that Dave Gettleman was ‘allowed’ to retire. No doubt, his tenure as Giants GM has been a failure. Regardless, DG has been a loyal member of the NYG for years, has been part of Super Bowl teams, is 70 years old and has battled cancer. I’m my opinion, It was a classy move by the Giants to ‘allow’ him to retire and a no brainer, ESPECIALLY with upcoming GM interviews the coming weeks (loyalty makes the job more attractive). Thoughts?

Ed says: Jason, the way I feel is that some people always need something to complain about. Emily Iannaconi and I talked about this on Monday. I could care less. People wanted him out, and he’s out. That’s the bottom line. They let a guy who has worked in the league since the mid-1980s retire with some dignity. That’s fine. As John Mara said Wednesday, firing him before the season ended wasn’t going to accomplish anything. The people the Giants wanted to interview are employed by other teams and could not be approached until the end of the regular season, anyway. Which, by the way, is an indication that guys like Louis Riddick and Scott Pioli are not targets.

Henry Mildener asks: Given Nick Gates uncertain future, do you think the first three picks in the draft will be offensive linemen? Since there is little cap space I don’t think the Giants will be dipping into free agency. And with so many other needs - pass rusher, linebacker, D line, what’s the plan?

Ed says: Henry, no I don’t think the first three picks will be offensive linemen. What about some of those other needs you mentioned? Yes, the Giants have to fix the offensive line. That, though, is too narrow of a focus. What’s the plan? There is no GM. There is no head coach. So, right now how can there be a plan?

Bob Donnelly asks: The changes announced by the Giants this week are a step in the right direction. More changes will come. One of the most challenging issues will be fixing the O-Line. With 4 new new linemen need its improbable all the replacements can be found in the draft and there is no cap space to add a veteran. So what resources are available? Barkley is certainly one chip to spend. A “tag and trade” of Engram is another. In your opinion would either of them be sufficient to exchange for a starting tackle or guard? If not what else would be required? How far of a trade down from the seventh pick would it take to get a guard or tackle as compensation? Do you have any thoughts on how the line can be repaired in one off season?

Ed says: Bob, if the Giants trade an asset like Barkley they are almost certainly not doing it for a starting guard. They are doing it for draft capital.

The Giants can’t count on Nick Gates in 2022 after what he said this week. It will be interesting to see what the new regime thinks of Shane Lemieux. Joe Hortiz, one of the GM candidates, is part of a Baltimore Ravens front office that drafted Ben Bredeson in Round 4 in 2020.

It would surprise no one if the Giants use at least a couple of the six picks they have in the first 108 of the 2022 NFL Draft on offensive linemen. It wouldn’t surprise me if they clear enough money to try and sign a middle-tier starting guard in free agency. If they don’t draft a center like Tyler Linderbaum, will the new bosses think they can get by with Billy Price for a year? I don’t know.

If it’s me, I’m looking for a player who could start at right tackle with one of those first two picks, because tackles are harder to find than guards, and going from there. It wouldn’t surprise me if you end up with three new starters and a competition between Bredeson and Lemieux for one guard spot.

Chris Fiegler asks: Now that Joe Judge is fired, Would you like that if the Giants hire Jim Harbaugh to become their head coach? Since Jim Harbaugh put the 49ers to the NFC Championship game and went to Super Bowl 47?

Ed says: Nope. Not a Harbaugh guy. Big ego. Wants control. Don’t think he would take the job unless he got to pick the GM he would work with, anyway.

Jerry Panza asks: I am wondering how you feel about these two — Mara/Tisch — even conducting interviews to find a new GM. I’m not sure the track record of these two minds that they are all that qualified to properly or objectively conduct this search. I don’t know any other way if it has ever been done before that someone else could step in and do the evaluations. Some kind of top sports management evaluator. Maybe even you, Ed. By your 1/11 article you wrote I think you have the critical questions that need to be asked. So what do you think, Ed?

Ed says: Jerry, John Mara and Steve Tisch own the team. Who else is going to conduct the interviews or make the decision? Mara was clear on Wednesday that he and Tisch understand that they have made mistakes in their last few hires.

“We haven’t necessarily made the right choices,” Mara said. “I think looking back on our process, I wish it had been a little more extensive, that we had seen more people and maybe taken our time a little bit more with it. We’re going to try not to make that mistake this time.”

Mara believes he and Tisch can make the right choice this time.

“I don’t expect a lot of people to believe that given what’s happened over the last few years and I’m going to have to earn their trust again,” he said. “But I feel very good about the group of candidates for the general manager position that we have scheduled right now. I think any one of a number of them would make an excellent general manager, so I am confident that we have the resources to make the right choice here.”

There is no Ernie Accorsi leading the search this time, no former NFL executive who might have connections but also perhaps an agenda to push certain people into jobs.

Mara wouldn’t divulge who he is relying on. Be encouraged, though, by the wider net being cast. And by the fact that many other teams in need of a GM are sniffing around the same candidates. That doesn’t mean the Giants will ultimately get it right. I think, though, that it means they are giving themselves a better chance.

Jon Hilsenrath asks: Two general managers and three head coaches in six years. There is something wrong with owner’s hiring process. So the big question for me right now is: How are Mara and Tisch running this process? It isn’t enough to say they are casting a wider net and interviewing more people. How are they making decisions? How are they doing due diligence on candidates? Who is advising them? You can’t just interview a bunch of people and make a decision. That is a weak and sloppy hiring process and billion dollar organizations don’t do that. At least not good ones. Interviews are often meaningless. You need to investigate the candidates, and align them with your values and goals and have a damn good idea of what you’re getting. Tell us about the process. And if the organization can’t explain how it has changed the process after all of these hiring mistakes, then it hasn’t changed anything.

Ed says: Jon, the answer to the previous question applies to this one. I think the mistake the Giants made with the Gettleman hire was that they pretty much had a pre-determined outcome and they didn’t look around enough. They know that. The mistake with Joe Judge was that, as Ralph Vacchiano said to me, they got “starry-eyed” after the interview and made an emotional decision. They know that, too.

They are not going to tell us about their complete process. We know that it will involve multiple interviews for whoever gets the job. That it has involved lengthy research into candidates and conversations with people around the league.

A lot of the candidates they have arrived at have been and are currently being interviewed for GM jobs around the league. Depending on your viewpoint, you can take that as “group think,” or take it to believe they are at least on the right track. Your choice.

Nate Carter asks: What do you anticipate from a new GM in terms of approach to 2022? There are a lot of high-priced veterans (Martinez, Golladay, Shepard, Jackson, Ryan, Williams etc on this roster.) You also have players heading to the last year of their contracts with Jones, Barkley and Lawrence. Without knowing who the GM will be, do you anticipate a complete house cleaning where the GM rids himself of as many of these players as possible and starts from scratch? Or do you foresee a more selective approach where a majority of the above veterans are breaking camp with the Giants?

Ed says: Nate, that is really impossible to say. There will have to be a number of salary-cap moves made. I will be surprised if players like Sterling Shepard and Kyle Rudolph are brought back. There will have to be other decisions made. There are always some players shown the door simply because the new GM and head coach want “their guys.”

I am really interested in what happens with Blake Martinez and James Bradberry. Bradberry carries a completely untenable $21.863 million cap hit in 2022. The Giants can save $12.136 million by cutting, a figure that rises to $13.5 million if they make him a post-June 1 cut. Martinez carries a $14.025 million cap hit. The Giants would save $8.525 million by cutting him. My guess is that at least is not a Giant next season, and it would not shock me if both are gone.

Whoever is in charge, they aren’t going to cut players like Kenny Golladay or Adoree’ Jackson. Those players have guaranteed money coming and it won’t help the Giants to cut them immediately.

Is a total teardown coming? Probably. I think the Giants have enough talent to be better than 4-13 and maybe don’t need to be torn all the way down to the studs, but over a couple of years that might be coming. Look at it as a two-year window. How many players on the current roster do you think will still be Giants by Week 1 of 2024? I would put money on Andrew Thomas and Xavier McKinney. Maybe Azeez Ojulari. Other that that, I’m not confident in predicting a long-term future with the Giants for anyone.

M2-0 Buscemi asks: Any reason that Ed Dodd, from the Colts hasn’t been considered for an interview for general manager. I understand he’s highly regarded for a GM position.

Ed says: Ed Dodds is the assistant GM of the Indianapolis Colts and he is highly-regarded. In recent years, it seems like Dodds in on everyone’s list as a prospective GM. We don’t know for certain if Dodds has been “considered” by the Giants for GM, but if I was a betting man I would bet that he has.

The problem is that Dodds has choices. He can pick and choose where he wants to interview, and wait for the opportunity he deems to be right for him. He turns down a lot of interview requests. You can bet that the Giants spent at least a couple of months vetting candidates behind the scenes and finding out who was/was not interested in being interviewed by the Giants. So, when John Mara says he hasn’t been turned down by anyone that’s almost certainly because he knew who was — and was not — open to being asked.

I don’t know this for certain, but I would guess that if the Giants don’t interview Dodds for the job it’s because he doesn’t want to be interviewed.

Andrew Geissler asks: I have a general football question that I hope may be a reprieve for you given what I expect to be healthy doses of inquiries focused on Giants head coach/GM related questions.

Is the notion that certain NFL players are “injury prone” valid? It’s a physical game (in truth, I’m surprised guys don’t get injured more often than they do) but it does seem some guys land on the IR list more regularly than others. Sterling Shepard comes to mind, so does Toney (although his sample size is small and much of it was Covid related).

And if “injury prone” is a “trait”, can NFL player evaluators assess it? Does past injury history correlate to future injury?

Ed says: Andrew, I never know if the phrase “injury prone” is the right way to say it. Football is a physical game, and nearly all players are usually dealing with something. It is absolutely true, though, that some guys get injured more than others.

This is something former GM Dave Gettleman said in the past. “Hurt guys get hurt. It’s just the truth. It’s very difficult for hurt guys to last. They just manage to get hurt.”

Which makes some of the risks the Giants took on players with injury histories surprising.

Kadarius Toney had a history of shoulder injuries at Florida, and there were durability questions pre-draft. Kenny Golladay had a hip injury last year and has had hip injuries in the past. Saquon Barkley has now had injuries three years in a row. Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard are guys who never seem to make it through full seasons. Daniel Jones, too.

In some cases, I think one injury leads to another because you can’t train the way you want to train. Or, whether you realize it or not an injury can change your gait and make you more susceptible to later injuries.

One injury shouldn’t be a red flag. When guys show you a pattern of injuries, that pattern is probably going to continue. So, yes, I do believe a past history of multiple injuries correlates to future expectations that a player will suffer more injuries.

That has to be a factor when you decide which players to keep, which free agents to sign, which players to draft.

Marcus Mewborn asks: Ed, you wrote a detailed article about what questions GMs should be prepared to answer during their interviews which featured big picture questions about the roster and front office. I need to ask what questions should ownership be prepared to answer from the GMs during the during the hiring process?

Ed says: Marcus, that’s really simple. Aside from Chris Mara, who is going nowhere, do I as the new GM have the authority to remove/replace anyone I feel is not doing the job the way I want it done? Also, you say that personnel decisions belong to the GM and head coach. Does anyone, other than you, John Mara, or Steve Tisch, have the right to even try to overrule me?