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Big Blue View mailbag: The Joe Schoen era has begun

The mail’s here!

You know what today is, right New York Giants fans? It is, of course, Big Blue View Mailbag. Maybe slightly more importantly, though, it is the first full day of Joe Schoen’s tenure as Giants general manager.

While we wait to see what Schoen does with his first move — the hiring of a head coach — let’s open up the mailbag and answer some questions.

Glen B asks: Ed, now that the season is mercifully over what can the new GM do to address the cap space hell that the Giants are facing. In particular, Gettleman’s signing of Golladay has been a disaster. How much would it cost the Giants to just get rid of the guy, for next year and if that is not possible at least for the 2023 season. When I look at all the talent the Cowboys have on the offensive side, including O-line, I can’t help but ask, how can they afford all those guys yet we have no proven offense talent except for maybe Barkley (but even he is now questionable and still on a rookie deal), yet we cannot afford no one. How does that happen, and how do they fix it? And how can the Cowboys afford to pay all those guys?

Ed says: Glen, I’m going to focus purely on the Kenny Golladay part of this question. First, I’m not ready to call the signing a “disaster.” I think the Giants overpaid, no doubt. It seems that considering the market they were bidding against themselves, and could have gotten him for much less. What I think was a disaster was that the Giants couldn’t figure out how to use him, and then the quarterback play over the final six games made wide receivers dinosaurs in the Giants offense.

Golladay is going nowhere. The Giants still owe him a ton of guaranteed money. Per Over The Cap, to cut Golladay this offseason the Giants would have to swallow $23.6 million in dead money against the cap, which is $2.45 million MORE than his 2021 cap hit of $21.15 million. That’s foolish. Even as a post-June 1 cut, those numbers are $13.4 million in dead money vs. $7.75 million in savings. Again, not viable.

In 2023, making Golladay a post-June 1 cut would make financial sense. That would save the Giants $18 million while they would incur just $3.4 million in dead money.

bucc07 asks: My question is about the O-Line. We know that free agency comes before the draft and we can’t go into the draft realistically planning to come out with 3 or 4 Day 1 starters on the O-Line in training camp. Therefore, based on who is set to be a free agent, what would you do to stock the cupboard on the OL in advance of the draft, particularly given our limited cap space? Ignoring our own unrestricted free agents, what are the three biggest cuts/moves you are making to try and free up cap space to help put your O-Line plan in place?

Ed says: Considering the Giants’ 2022 salary cap issues we have previously discussed and will discuss in more depth deeper into this mailbag, no one should expect major answers to come in free agency. On the offensive line or anywhere else. I feel reasonably certain that the Giants will be sitting out the major part of free agency. I could see a mid-level guard or center signed to a cheap contract, and maybe a veteran or two for depth. Don’t expect any major free-agent moves, though.

As for cuts, if it’s me the Giants are waiving goodbye to Sterling Shepard, Kyle Rudolph and either James Bradberry or Blake Martinez, probably Martinez. Evan Engram, Will Hernandez and Jabrill Peppers would be gone, along with most of the other free-agents-to-be.

Marketing Guy asks: Obviously the new GM will be picking the new HC, and I am curious as to your thoughts on Patrick Graham. What he got out of his defense was fairly impressive and I am wondering, since he is/was the assistant head coach, would a new GM give him high consideration as the players know him and he knows the organization? It seems the owners maybe are swinging the pendulum the other way and really going outside the organization, which is not a bad thing, but we all have to agree Graham did a pretty outstanding job with what he had, considering all the 3 and outs the offense put up.

Ed says: Marketing, I think Graham’s fit as defensive coordinator would have more to do with whoever the head coach ends up being than with the GM. The coach is usually the driving force behind the coaching staff. He is the one who works with the coaches 12-14 hours a day for most of the year.

I would love to see Graham return, but there is so much we don’t know at this point. Included in that is whether he even wants to be back after the firing of Joe Judge, who is a close friend of Graham’s.

James Mangano asks: When, if at all, do you think we will hear from Gettleman about his tenure with the Giants?

Should Giants fans even care about that?

I’d like to know what he thinks in hindsight about his decisions.

I supported him initially, but his bravado got him in trouble. I’d like to know if he has been humbled, would he do things differently if he had another chance and was he forced by ownership to do things he didn’t want to do.

Ed says: James, the answer is probably never. He didn’t get a farewell press conference like Tom Coughlin did. That probably wouldn’t have been a good idea. He’s gone, and the only way you hear anything from him now is if he does some interviews on his own or writes a book about his life in the NFL.

I doubt he will do either. And, no, you shouldn’t care. The Gettleman era is done. Look forward.

Michael Germano asks: You are hired as the Giants GM. Congratulations, Ed! What will you do? I know you don’t have all the info you need (e.g. salary cap, evaluations of draftees, etc.), but to the best of your knowledge what would you do?

Ed says: Michael, that starts with who goes. Evan Engram, Jabrill Peppers, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, Nate Solder, John Ross are among players who wouldn’t be back if I was making the decision. I would try to bring back Austin Johnson, but I’m not paying top-dollar. Maybe Jaylon Smith and perhaps Billy Price, that’s about it.

Cap cuts would include Sterling Shepard, Kyle Rudolph and probably Blake Martinez. I would try to keep James Bradberry simply because he plays a premium position and does it well.

I am listening to offers for Saquon Barkley. I don’t need a first-round pick to move on from Barkley, just a solid package of Day 2 picks that helps me try to re-stock the roster. I will keep him for a year if I don’t get any offers I like, but the more I think about Barkley I think his biggest value to the franchise right now is as a trade chip.

I’m leaving Daniel Jones in place for a year. Many people think Kenny Pickett is QB1 in the draft. Mel Kiper believes Pickett’s ceiling is Andy Dalton. I already have that, and maybe better. No point in drafting a QB in the top 10, and I don’t have the money or spare draft capital to pull off a trade for Russell Wilson. Oh, and don’t bring me Jimmy Garoppolo trade offers. I’m hanging up the phone.

I’m using at least one of the two top-10 picks on an offensive lineman, maybe both. I’d be tempted to pick a top-tier defensive player, regardless of position. I might also be willing to drop down to the middle of Round 1 with one of those two picks to accumulate more assets.

For now, that’s about. I’ve gotta stop typing and go hire a coach. Hey, you, office assistant-person — I just got here and don’t know your name yet — have you got Brian Flores’ phone number? Brian Daboll? Eric Bieniemy? No, I don’t want Ben McAdoo’s number.

Ronald Buchheim asks: I saw that he was not signed to a contract for next year. Is this the end of his Giants career? Do you have any idea if he performed poorly during his three games?

Ed says: Ronald, Sills is a free agent. He will be 26 next season. In four games, he caught two passes. He is a nice guy, nice story, hard worker. All of that said, I can’t see a new GM/coach coming and thinking “I’ve gotta get David Sills and get him into this playing rotation.” He’s really just another NFL guy at this point, and he’s probably going to have to look for another opportunity

Tom Powell asks: We keep hearing about how little cap space the Giants had for the ‘21 season and will have for the ‘22 season. But, I haven’t heard much about the ‘23 season cap projections. I’m curious how long “Getty’s cap hell” will hamstring our new GM.

Ed says: Tom, it is waaaaay early for figuring that out in anything more than general terms. What does look pretty apparent, though, is that while 2022 looks rough in terms of the cap things don’t look bleak beyond that.

First, we don’t know for certain what the cap will be. The current estimate is $225 million, per Over The Cap. As of now, OTC says the Giants have 27 players signed to contract that run at least through that season. They estimate that the Giants effective cap space, the maximum amount it could have available once 51 players are signed using that $225 million estimate is $75.379 million. That would put them 17th in the league.

So many things can happen between now and then, though, that I wouldn’t start drooling over the possibilities.

One good thing the Giants did in their 2020 free agent splurge is limit those contracts to three years. Barring new deals, James Bradberry and Blake Martinez will be off the books by then. Logan Ryan won’t have any guaranteed money coming and could be cut at a cap savings of $9.25 million. Nate Solder will be off the books. Adoree’ Jackson won’t have guaranteed money left, and cutting him would save $12 million against the cap. Leonard Williams ($18 million cap savings) won’t have guaranteed money left, either. There is also the possibility that Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley might be ex-Giants by then, as well.

Point is, this “cap hell” is a 2022 thing. The Giants admittedly knew they were putting themselves in that spot when they splurged on Kenny Golladay and Jackson last offseason. It is not a long-term limitation, unless the new regime repeats the cycle.

Jason Byam asks: Looking at the past few drafts for the GM candidates (Hortiz, Poles, Schoen, Peters) it appears to me the Giants haven’t been that far off. I could make a case that Gettleman has actually drafted BETTER than some of those guys. The key difference to me is bringing in the right free agents, and QB play, thoughts?

Ed says: Jason, if you were to try and make a case that the Giants drafted better than the Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers or Bills over the last four years you might find yourself on a very lonely island. Are you pitching to star in a remake of “Castaway?”

Forget free agents. The Giants have tried three times since 2014 to go big into free agency for a quick fix. They got one playoff loss, a lot of egg on their faces, a lot of cap issues and five straight double-digit loss seasons for their trouble — and their money.

You fill a hole here and there with free agency. You do not want to be in the position of needing free agents to come in and be your stars.

You build via the draft. And yes, you have to get the quarterback right.

Jeff Bergman asks: I see backup QB as a primary free agent need, primarily because “experienced backup” can’t be found in the draft. My question is what type of backup should the Giants seek: ”Solid Vet” like Andy Dalton or Nick Foles. ”The next Tannehill”, a player who struggled in a starting role but might have figured it out after being a backup like Mariota or Trubisky. ”Journeyman”, perhaps better than we’ve had but someone competent but no real future as QB1 like Bridgewater. Which would you choose? I like “next Tannehill” type because if you’re right, you can be a playoff team and if not you’re not too good that you ruin your draft position for an attempt at “Rookie Franchise” type.

Ed says: Jeff, how do you know Mitchell Trubisky or Marcus Mariota has “figured it out?” Have we seen any on-field evidence of that? I don’t think so. A year of watching Drew Brees didn’t turn Jameis Winston or Teddy Bridgewater into Brees.

I just want someone who is competent. If that someone turns into a player who could take the job away from Daniel Jones then so be it. How do we know who the “next Tannehill” is, anyway? Who is he on this list? I would take several of those guys, but I wouldn’t count on getting more than a functional backup who can help you run competent offense.

Seth Weissman asks: I know many people are down on Daniel Jones and want to see a new QB, but I think we all have to pause and realize that he really hasn’t had a legitimate chance to show what he really can be. From day one, he has been running for his life 3/4 of the time he drops back. Any decent QB can thrive if given time. Even Trent Dilfer won a SB. So, I think the Giants need to get an O-line in front of him and then assess. If the Giants were to draft at least 2 quality lineman (Neal or Ekwonu at OT and Kenyon Green or Zion Johnson at G), Barkley might actually have a hole to run through which could then allow Jones to do some play-action passing. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Seth, we have talked about this a number of times and in a number of ways. Of course Daniel Jones would look better with a fully healthy Saquon Barkley, healthy wide receivers and an improved offensive line.

I do believe Jones is better than his numbers have shown — the circumstances around him have not been good. After three years, though, I think Jones has shown us that he probably isn’t a star. He’s not a make players around him better and rise above poor circumstances quarterback. I think you can win with Jones if you put a solid, healthy, functional team around him.

I have said before that I think the Giants’ best path in 2022 is for Jones to be the quarterback while they build the roster and get their cap issues straightened out. If the new regime wants a new quarterback after that, go get one in 2023.

Henry Gardstein asks: Ed, having watched whole season and now playoff games, it strikes me that more often than not I see pass-catchers on other teams with good separation and the ability to keep running after the catch. I don’t remember any of our guys doing this. It seems that every pass was into a very tight window. Is this scheme, route running, lesser talent or on the QB?

Ed says: Henry, the answer is really all of the above. The passing offense installed by Jason Garrett included what I always thought were too many routes where receivers caught the ball in stationary positions rather than on the move vertically or horizontally. You don’t get separation or yards after catch from those. Then again, the Giants yards after catch looked fine when Kadarius Toney was fully healthy. Route running and timing has to be part of it when you are dealing with all of the backups and constant shuffling that went on due to injuries. Kenny Golladay is a guy who has never been a “separation” receiver. He is a big-bodied guy who makes his money winning 50-50 balls. Mark Schofield always says yards after catch is also a quarterback stat. That’s because if you don’t hit wide receivers on time and on target so they don’t have to break stride then you limit their opportunities to make a play once they catch the ball. So, quarterback play is also part of it.

Jesse Sorel asks: Was reading your “connecting the dots” article, do you think Ryan Poles “Obscure Coach “ could be Doug Pederson? They crossed paths when Pederson was OC. If that is the case would you sign up for this Coach and GM combination?

Ed says: Jesse, no I don’t think he is talking about Pederson. I think he is talking about someone who is not a well-known name. To be honest, I’m not a big Pederson fan. I would rather see the Giants look elsewhere.