Because the NFL never really sleeps, we have bounced from the Super Bowl to the Combine to the impending start of free agency in nearly the blink of an eye. Let’s open up the Big Blue View Mailbag with free agency almost here, and answer some questions.
Bob Donnelly asks: We have heard a lot about the depth of this draft class and how many candidates are impressing at the combine. There’s now speculation that many veterans will be released in favor of younger cheaper talent.Add to that several teams with a lot of work getting under the cap which will also add to the FA ranks. I like what we have seen this far from our new GM setting the stage by announcing the degree of cap space he intends to create, that he was planning on meeting with a number of player agents to start difficult discussions (pay cuts or release) and that “Trader Joe” is open for business. He will listen to any and all offers; player for player, players for picks, picks for players, and he is open to moving up or down on the draft board. Restructuring contracts and “kicking the can down the road “ is his last resort.
What are your thoughts on our GM thus far, and how do you project he can use the market to add veteran depth to the roster?
Ed says: Bob, I like what we have heard thus far. I like what people around the league have said about Schoen, both to me and to others. I like the veteran coaching staff he and Brian Daboll put together. I like the hiring of Brandon Brown as assistant GM. I like what appears to be a patient approach to decision-making.
Thing is, we are just beginning to see Schoen make truly important decisions pertaining to the roster. So, obviously there is much for him to do and much for us to learn about him.
As for the roster, I think what he has already done is instructive. Schoen said he will use every avenue, including undrafted free agents and players waived or cut when rosters are trimmed before the season. So, as we saw during the Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge tenures, expect some movement right up to Week 1.
In free agency, I would expect what we have already seen. Signings of younger players like offensive tackle Matt Gono and running back Antonio Williams, guys looking for an opportunity. Schoen said at the Combine that he will be looking for guys willing to take one-year “prove-it” deals. Those players cost less, don’t require a long-term commitment and are motivated to excel.
Don’t expect anything splashy.
Ronald Charbonneau asks: Kayvon Thibodeaux created more questions by not doing any of the drills after he finished the 40-yard dash. If on draft day the O lineman, Hutchinson, Hamilton are off the board, should we pass on Thibodeaux and pick a Travon Walker who had a great combine did all the drills with the fifth pick and a Sauce Gardner with the seventh pick. Daniel Jeremiah and Dane Brugler are both Walker fans. It would mean picking the offensive line in the second and third rounds, your thoughts?
Ed says: Ronald, this is a topic that will come up over and over again. In this scenario, I am picking Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner at No. 5. That has nothing to do with Thibodeaux. It has to do with the fact that I believe, and most of the people I talk to believe, that Wink Martindale needs man-to-man press cornerbacks more than premier edge rushers. Just look at the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive roster. Gardner is the best man-press cornerback in this draft, perfect for Martindale. He is also perfect for Schoen, who wants “smart, tough, dependable” players to build around.
At No. 7, I think that if the Giants believe there is a really big gap between Charles Cross and Trevor Penning and the other offensive tackles in the class they have to strongly consider taking the tackle they prefer. I know Cross and Penning weren’t on my ‘7 for 7 list, but I think it would be unfortunate if the Giants didn’t come out of this draft with a Day 1 starting-caliber right tackle.
Honestly, I would have no problem taking Thibodeaux with either one of these picks. His tape makes him a top five talent in this class, and my gut instinct is that all of the concerns about his commitment are overblown. Of course, NFL teams have a lot more access and information, and have to make that choice for themselves.
Ronald Buchheim asks: I understand the Giants need a decent backup quarterback. But do you think that signing a starting caliber quarterback to compete with Jones is wise? I think spending $10 million on a backup is excessive, given all the other needs the Giants have. I think Jones has greater potential than Trubisky, potential that will be obliterated if the veteran wins the job. And I don’t think the idea of pushing Jones makes sense. Professional athletes in a sport like football are already incredibly motivated. Are there any signs that Jones is less than absolutely dedicated? I say spend the money where it’s needed. To me this is the first sign that Schoen, who previously professed faith in Jones, may not really know what he’s doing. What do you think?
Ed says: Ronald, slow down on the ‘Schoen doesn’t know what he’s doing’ chatter. Free agency hasn’t started yet. A check hasn’t been written. Trubisky is not a Giant. We have no idea what’s real and what isn’t at this point. I think Trubisky’s representatives are doing a fantastic job drumming up interest in their a client — a guy who threw eight passes last year and got run out of Chicago before that because he wasn’t good enough to build around.
I’m certain the Giants and Trubisky have mutual interest. That makes too much sense not to be true. At $10 million a year, though? Who knows where that number came from. Most likely, from an agent who floated it to bump up Trubisky’s value and who is enjoying a chuckle as he sees the entire NFL world go nuts over his handiwork.
The Giants don’t have $10 million a year to give Trubisky right now. If they did, I certainly can’t see them spending it to create a quarterback mess that would bog down everything they try to do in the first year of the Schoen-Brian Daboll regime, rather than filling out the roster.
Maybe Trubisky winds up with the Giants, but I will be floored if it is at anywhere near that price. If he gets that kind of money it’s probably going to have to come from Pittsburgh, Carolina or another quarterback-desperate team.
Jerry Panza asks: About the field at MetLife Stadium. After reading Jason Kelce’s comments I am interested to know how you feel about what he and other players and teams have said about the playing surface. The Giants do have an exceptional amount of injuries, I wonder if it would be a wise and cost effective move to re do the field and even maybe go with real grass. In either case It can’t cost all that much for a couple of millionaire owners (Jets, too) to make something better for the players they invest a ton of money to play for them.
Ed says: Jerry, I am not a big fan of Field Turf. I think playing on grass is safer, and I think the data has backed that up. As for MetLife Stadium’s Field Turf, I honestly don’t know the answer as to why there have been complaints about it.
The surface was replaced just before the start of the 2020 season, so it is basically brand new. Is it somehow more dangerous than other turf surfaces? I haven’t been able to find any data that breaks down surface by surface, so I don’t know.
Why doesn’t MetLife have a grass surface? It’s about multi-use. With two teams playing on it that surface would be torn to shreds by the end of a football season, especially with Northeast weather to factor in. Throw in the concerts held at the stadium throughout the year, and I’m sure the belief is grass just wouldn’t hold up.
I’m no expert, but I have read lately about technology that allows grass to be cultivated in a “tray” and then moved into and out of a stadium before games. Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas has such a surface. Artificial turf is used for some purposes at Allegiant, then replaced by the grass surface for Raiders games. The grass is then removed and placed back outside in its tray. I have no idea the cost of something like this, but I would be in favor of it should it be feasible at MetLife.
Jim Jordan: With the start date for the new league year less than a week off, I have a handful of quick cap-related questions I hope you have time and space to get to. First, has there been any official word on whether Shepard and/or Martinez have accepted the Giants’ pay reduction proposals? If not, can we assume either or both will be gone by next Wednesday? Assuming they either take the pay cuts or are cut, would those savings combined with the cuts the Giants have already made (Rudolph, Booker, let’s assume Dixon) add up to to enough savings to get them under the cap threshold by Wednesday. It would seem this would give them some breathing room on finding a trade partner for Bradberry rather than being forced into taking less than he’s worth just to get a deal done by 3/16. Would you agree? Finally, does the $19.6 million figure that the Giants are supposedly over the cap right now include the money that needs to be allocated for next year’s draft class, or is that money over and above the $19.6M figure?
Ed says: Jim, let me address the actual cap part of this question. Yes, the Giants can get under the $208.2 million salary cap without trading James Bradberry. Over the Cap has them at $7.647 over as of Thursday afternoon.
The problem is that getting under and then actually having enough cap space to make any free agent signings, even low-cost ones, are two very different things. OTC estimates the Giants rookie pool at $19.6 million, but the number to really pay attention to is the estimate that it will cost the Giants an estimated $12.55 million against the cap to sign their rookies. They don’t need that as of the 16th, but they will need it eventually.
Trading Bradberry remains the single biggest way the Giants can obtain cap relief ($12.136 million right now). That number would balloon to $13.5 million if they made him a post-June 1 cut or traded him after that date. The Giants, though, would not have that money available to use in free agency.
Long story short, it still behooves them to make a Bradberry transaction before the 16th.
Assuming they are accurate, does this make more sense for the Giants than signing someone like Trubisky? They are talking close to $10M per year for Trubisky, while it looks like Love’s cap hit is closer to $3M. If the Giants can get a mid-round pick for Barkley or Bradberry it seems like a chance to pick up a QB with some upside while still not breaking the bank. If he ends up being better than Jones that’s fine, and if not he is a low-priced backup who should be more capable than Mike Glennon. My guess is that Love isn’t going to be anyone’s franchise QB (otherwise GB would just have let Rodgers walk), but it might be worth seeing what he’s got. Any thoughts?
Ed says: Wait, what? You want the Giants to give up draft capital for Jordan Love? Sorry, no, I’m not doing that. As I said above, I will be shocked if the Giants pay big money for Mitchell Trubisky. Don’t you know you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet? Or Twitter? You trade for Love, then you have two young-ish quarterbacks you aren’t sure about, you’ve given up daft capital one of them won’t play. Nope. Just give me a veteran backup quarterback at a reasonable price, whether it’s Trubisky or someone else, who gives the Giants a better chance than Mike Glennon.
Give Daniel Jones the year. Build the roster. If it isn’t going to work out with Jones, deal with that heading into 2023.