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Combine thoughts: James Bradberry, Saquon Barkley, prospect notes

Some ‘things I think’ coming out of Indy

New York Giants v Los Angeles Chargers
James Bradberry
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books. Free agency is right around the corner. The draft isn’t that far behind. The New York Giants have a lot to get done before any of that starts, and not a lot of time left to make those decisions.

Here are some ‘things I think’ coming out of the Combine.

James Bradberry trade thoughts

I usually post all of our ‘mailbag’ questions on Saturday. I get the following question about cornerback James Bradberry a lot, though, and since it is timely let’s talk about it now.

Gino Phillips asks: My question for you would be do you think that a Bradberry trade would take place prior to the draft or would the Giants wait until draft day to pull the trigger to possibly get the best leverage?

Reality is that all NFL teams, the Giants included, have to be under the $208.2 million salary cap by March 16. That is nine days from now. That’s is when the NFL league year, and free agency, officially begin.

The Giants are still $7.647 million over the, per Over The Cap. That number balloons to $20.198 million when you add how much money they will need to sign their rookie class. Like it or not, want to or not, the Giants will have to do what they have to do in order to get under the cap.

[NOTE: These cap numbers have been corrected since this story originally posted.]

One of those things they almost certainly have to do over the next nine days in trade Bradberry, their best cornerback. Doing so would save them $12.136 million over the cap. There is no other single move they can make that would bring them that much cap relief.

They could save more ($13.5 million) if they waited until the draft or made him a post-June 1 cut. Doing that, though, is not going to help them get under the cap in the next nine days.

There has been much speculation about what the Giants can get for Bradberry. Maybe the best they can do is a third-round pick. Maybe it’s a fourth-round pick. Whatever it is, the Giants almost certainly have to take it — and they pretty much have no choice but to do it in the next nine days.

To trade or not to trade Saquon Barkley

We have talked a lot about whether or not the Giants should or should not trade Saquon Barkley. Most of the reporting coming out of the Combine is that the return for Barkley would not be that much, maybe not more than a fourth-round pick.

Word coming out of Indy was that the Giants are open to trading Barkley, but don’t really want to. Depending upon what else happens, the Giants might end up needing the $7.2 million in cap savings.

I am still one who believes the right long-term decision is to move on from Barkley. I can though, understand being tempted to see what a healthy Barkley can do. The problem is, what do you do then? Paying a big money second contract to a running back is just not good business.

Age of analytics

It didn’t get much attention, but the Giants last week hired Cade Knox as offensive assistant/game manager. Knox was a football data and innovation intern a year ago. Head coach Brian Daboll said Knox will be in his ear during games to provide data.

“We used that heavily (in Buffalo),” Daboll said of his stint as the Bills’ offensive coordinator. “It’s a part of the process. It’s a tool to use. As a Harvard graduate who played quarterback and moved to receiver, (Knox) was working in the analytics room. I’d say we have a number of people back there who are highly, highly intelligent in that area who were there before me. I sat down and talked to a variety of them. Cade played quarterback, played receiver, very, very smart, so he’ll be up in the box during the game. He’ll have a headset on.

“You do a lot of planning. (Game management decisions) are not spur of the moment. What we did in Buffalo is similar to what we’ll do here, Friday meetings and Thursday meetings on a lot of different situations and scenarios that come up. You never know when they’re going to come up and you have to make split-second decisions. It’s always good to have a voice that is there with you in the heat of the process when you are doing other things, too. He is an impressive young man.”

Combine notes

  • Loved this answer from Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning. He was asked what three words best described his play style. His answer. “Physical. Nasty. Prick.”
  • Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum is booooooring. Which is fine. I worry about his foot injury a bit. I worry about his size a bit. I worry about his scheme versatility a bit. He’s the best center in the class, but the more I think about it the harder it is for me to see him as a top 10 pick.
  • Loved listening to Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere talk about why he loves football. Here is part of what he said:

“I wanted to make sure they knew how analytical I was about football, how much I love the game. And not only just because I love the game, just because I love playing it but because of what the game has brought me. The game has brought me so many friends and family members because a lot of people may not know this, but I’m a single child. It was just me and my mom, so she’s a single mother. And I never really had any brothers or sisters. But my family and like father figures have come from football. Like every single head coach that I’ve had has been a father figure for me. I’ve been in their offices on multiple occasions talking to them about life and things like that. And I look up to them as father figures because those are the guys that whenever I have a problem, like those are my dads. Those are the people that I say, ‘Hey, this is the person that I trust. This is a person that I respect and this is a person that I want to be around.’ And then in terms of the brotherhood, in terms of family, like my best friend from high school, Dylan Brown, he played right guard and left guard with me when I was playing tackle. My friend Thayer (Munford) here at Ohio State, he was playing left guard. Wyatt (Davis), he was playing right guard with me. And all of my brothers on the offensive line both in high school and college, like they’re all my best friends. My roommates are football guys. Like one of my roommates, he’s from Dallas, I got to go hang out with his family for a week during the summer. I created so many different relationships and new families because of football. And that’s kind of why I love the game, because of what it’s been able to give me. It’s been able to give me something that I wasn’t able to be afforded. I wasn’t afforded a father figure. I wasn’t afforded to have extra brothers and sisters. But the game gave that to me. And that’s something that I can never repay the game.”

This is the kind of person teams want in their locker room.

  • Travon Walker on what it would mean to join the Giants and be reunited with former Giants teammates Azeez Ojulari and Tae Crowder. “Playing with those guys, it would make it just seem like I’m just at home again. Cause I know they were great leaders at the University of Georgia, and I know they’re great leaders now from the career that they’re on. It would mean a lot.”
  • GM Joe Schoen said last Tuesday that he wants to enter the draft with seven players he would be comfortable with taking with the Giants’ two picks in the top seven of the draft. I am going to spend some time pondering the seven players who would be on my list, and when I have it I will write it.
  • I absolutely hope the NFL is smart enough to keep the Combine in Indianapolis. The city is perfectly built for the event. That might be because the city is largely built “around” the event.