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Big Blue View mailbag: Salary cap, 2022 draft, Wan’Dale Robinson, more

The mail’s here!

As your New York Giants return to action this weekend against the Houston Texans, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and answer some questions.

CTscan asks: Hi Ed, so I was reading something today about the Giants cap room for next year. I guess it’s estimated to be around $55 million now plus another $15 million or so if we cut Golladay and then some more for Shepard.

There’s been plenty of chatter about how much re signing Jones and Barkley might cut into that number, but what about the rest of the expiring contracts? I count 22 guys with expiring contracts, many of them currently starting or playing significant roles. they are not all game breakers, but they’ll need to be replaced.

For argument sake, say we hold onto Jones, Barkley, Love, Gates, Slayton, Moreau, Ximines and whoever else you want from the current roster and then fill in replacement level back ups. After all that’s done, how much do you figure we have an effective space for significant signings? I’m not suggesting pulling a Gettleman or anything, but how many positions do you think we might upgrade with upper tier players in free agency next year?

Ed says: CT, all of that makes my head hurt. As of today, Over The Cap projects the Giants to have $59 million on a salary cap of $225 million.

I could give you some pie in the sky projection of who I think the Giants keep, how much it will cost, and how much they might have left to spend. I’m not going to, though. I would be making up numbers out of thin air.

We know GM Joe Schoen has committed to cleaning up the cap situation. He has made significant progress, though there is likely more to be done to get through this season.

Schoen had said two other things. First, there are a number of players he would like to sign to contract extensions. Second, he expects to have enough money to chase a higher class (more expensive) free agents this offseason. What that amount of money is there is no way to know right now.

Schoen’s comments about free agency do not mean he is planning to go on a wild spending spree. He should be able to sign more mid-level players rather than handing out so many one-year minimum deals. I wouldn’t expect a free-agent frenzy, nor would I want to see one.

Stephen Goodyear asks: In the realm of hindsight ...

Like many I was bullish on trading down with the #7 and getting two later round #1s and taking Tyler Linderbaum and Kyle Hamilton. Both were hailed as generational at their positions.

Ignoring how well Neal and Love/McKinney may have played and focusing on Linderbaum and Hamilton. Are they making an impact? Delivering as expected? Should we have done it?

Ed says: Stephen, let me start with this. You can’t just snap your fingers and magically make a trade happen. Were the Baltimore Ravens, who took Hamilton No. 14 and Linderbaum No. 25, offering to come up to No. 7? Were the Kansas City Chiefs offering their two picks (Nos. 21 and 30) to move up to No. 7? I don’t think either of those things were on the table, so how was that going to happen?

Was someone offering a No. 1 in 2022 and a No. 1 in 2023? Again, I don’t recall that being reported. So, how was this trade down for two first-round picks supposed to happen?

The other thing is, how do we know that if the Giants had traded down in such a scenario that Hamilton and Linderbaum would have been the players they wanted, or would have even been available?

Look, I liked both players. I said over and over before the draft I would have supported selecting Hamilton in the top 10. I have not watched film on him, but his 81.5 Pro Football Focus grade would indicate he is playing well. Linderbaum has a 67.2 overall grade and has given up two sacks, appearing to perform decently for a rookie center.

GM Joe Schoen said before the draft he was open to trading down if a deal that he thought was worthwhile presented itself. That didn’t happen and he took Evan Neal at No. 7. I think he did just fine.

One more thing. Can we please stop with the ‘generational’ player stuff? It is one of the most overused terms I can think of when it comes to draft prospects. It is almost always just silly hyperbole.

Michael Spezio asks: Apropos of Xavier McKinney’s hand injury over the bye week, does the CBA cover bye weeks and whether these are regarded as true vacation time for players? Does it have any language at all regarding caution during bye weeks when considering activities that have a higher than average risk of resulting in a non-football injury? Does the NY Giants organization view bye weeks as player vacations, and does it give guidance regarding activities with higher than average risk of injury? ATVs carry such a higher than average risk of injury. I would imagine that Xavier McKinney was provided with a waiver and information about ATV risks if his ATV trip was a guided one run by an ATV sport company, which he implied in his own statements. Unless the regulations are absent or unenforced in Cabo. He’s a young man, only 23, and so can be expected to do what healthy, risk-taking, highly athletic 23-year-old men do. But even so, his role as the central defensive signal relayer of Martindale’s calls should have had some motivating effect on him to do what he could to stay healthy during the bye week and to come back from the bye stronger and fitter. Disappointing outcome overall, feeling for him and his family, glad he wasn’t more seriously hurt, and wishing him the best of success in recovery.

Ed says: Michael, here is what a standard NFL player contract says about non-football activities:

OTHER ACTIVITIES. Without prior written consent of the Club, Player will not play football or engage in activities related to football otherwise than for Club or engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury. Player represents that he has special, exceptional and unique knowledge, skill, ability, and experience as a football player, the loss of which cannot be estimated with any certainty and cannot be fairly or adequately compensated by damages. Player therefore agrees that Club will have the right, in addition to any other right which Club may possess, to enjoin Player by appropriate proceedings from playing football or engaging in football-related activities other than for Club or from engaging in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.

It has been reported that ATV usage is strictly prohibited in standard Giants’ player contracts. I do not have access to those, nor have I been able to confirm than first-hand. I do not, though, have reason to doubt those who have reported it.

What is disturbing to me is that McKinney said he did not know about the ATV provision in his contract. His agent should have made him aware of that, and maybe he did and McKinney just didn’t pay attention. It’s up to the player to know what he is signing, just like it is up to the player to know what substances he is putting into his body. Yes, they are often young and inexperienced, but that is what their representation is for.

I would agree that this is a disappointing result for the Giants. I wish someone had talked him out of the trip, to be honest.

Gino Phillips asks: It seems that in the last two games the Giants targeted Robinson less than I expected. Have the opposing defenses decided to take him out of the offense and make Jones go to the other receiving options, or is his number being called less, or is Jones not looking his way as much?

Ed says: Gino, you asked two questions. I will answer this one.

You are, of course, talking about wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. I’m not quite sure what you want the Giants to do here when it comes to Robinson. In Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars he was targeted eight times and caught six passes in his first full game of the season after missing time with a sprained MCL.

In Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks, Robinson was only targeted three times. I would have to go back and re-watch the game, but if this is accurate Robinson spent most of the game matched up against a really good young cornerback in Tariq Woolen. Sometimes, you just have to give the other guy credit.

I’m not really going to over-analyze one game where Robinson didn’t get the ball thrown his way an optimal number of times.

Mike Elston asks: I was watching the Seattle at Arizona game this afternoon. Will Hernandez left early in the game. The announcer noted him leaving and referred to him as “Arizona’s really special guard”. Has Will Hernandez turned his game around in Arizona or is that just the announcer doing the old John Madden commentary where every player on the field in the game he is announcing is the best at his position? If improvement, I am interested in your thoughts as to why he and the line played so poorly. Poor coaching and team culture?

Ed says: Mike, with apologies to incredible Duke Manyweather of OL Masterminds, who has done considerable work with Hernandez, anyone who looks at the player and calls him “really special” has not truly been paying attention to Hernandez’s career.

Hernandez is not special. He’s an average NFL guard. Now, I have not watched a single snap of Arizona Cardinals’ football this season, but the raw numbers tell me he is ‘maybe’ playing just a little bit better than he did the last couple of years with the Giants. He has given up three sacks in nine games. In his three full seasons with the Giants he gave up 14, an average of 4.7 per year. He is on pace to give up a career-low 24.5 pressures. His pass-blocking efficiency score of 97.8 is on par with his first two Giants seasons (97.3 and 97.6) before he fell off the last two seasons. Hernandez’ 60.3 run-blocking grade is right about where it’s always been.

Hernandez was always an average player who maybe should have/could have been better than average with better and more consistent offensive line coaching. His biggest weakness, I always thought, was difficultly recognizing and picking up stunts.

Under Pat Shurmur, Hal Hunter was the offensive line coach. Hunter’s resume is not impressive. Under Joe Judge, the offensive line had a revolving door of coaches and my belief is that didn’t help any of the guys actually trying to play.

Really, though, just looking at the numbers I don’t see anything different from Hernandez than I would have expected.

Robert Wengrzyn asks: Hey Ed, curious what you think about the production of Kayvon Thibodeaux so far this season. As I look at his body of work, it looks like Wink is playing him in more of a team defense, then just go out there and rush the passer. I am interested to hear your thoughts on his play and how is being used this season.

Ed says: Robert, I don’t want to give short-shrift to this question but it has been answered pretty thoroughly in a couple of recent posts. I gave a pretty detailed answer to a very similar question a couple of weeks ago, though, and my answer has not changed. Thibodeaux is doing just fine. You can also read Nick Falato’s bye week rookie breakdown.

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