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Big Blue View mailbag: Draft fallout, James Bradberry, more

The mail’s here!

It’s Saturday, so let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what New York Giants questions we can answer.

Alan Goldstein asks: For several reasons this draft felt dramatically different from any draft I can remember going back to the Coughlin days. Everybody says that our two first rounders were no brainers but I have seen the Giants as well as many other teams mess that stuff up hugely. I personally think we got the two best players in the draft bar none. What struck me about the picks after the first round was how the Giants only picked players that they spent some significant amount of time with and got to know their personalities as well as their abilities, how coordinators and position coaches went to a lot of pro days and workouts. It also seems to me that there is no way in heck that previous regimes spent as much high-level time invested in the players they ultimately picked and were poorly prepared in terms of what kind of players they were looking for. So many of the picks we made over the last several years were just not the kind of people I want on the team. I’m talking Kyle Lauletta (lazy), DeAndre Baker (lazy and stupid), Damontre Moore (whackadoodle) and on and on. a 30 minute conversation with those guys and a little bit of research and that would have come up. Same with Baker. Toney also falls into that bracket and while talented he doesn’t seem to be a team first guy.

The question is did this group put in more focused work on the players that they wanted rather than taking wild stabs at guys based on stats and measurements.

Ed says: Alan, I’m not going to sit here and say Joe Schoen and his staff worked harder than Jerry Reese or Dave Gettleman and their staffs. I’m not part of the front office, I’m not in the room or on the road with those people, and that wouldn’t be fair.

It also would be disingenous for me to sit here and fawn over Schoen and tell you he got every decision right. No GM in history has ever been perfect. Schoen won’t be. We will know how many decisions he has gotten right once we see the product on the field for a couple of seasons.

I think that over the final years of Tom Coughlin’s time there was a disagreement about the direction of the team and the type of players the Giants should have been acquiring.

I think toward the end of Reese’s time and into Gettleman’s time there was ownership’s stubborn loyalty to Eli Manning to contend with, and whatever other forms of family interference in football decisions that took place.

Reese made mistakes, more toward the end of his tenure than the beginning. Gettleman made mistakes, many because he was stubbornly old school and didn’t really adhere to value or understand opportunity cost.

Schoen will make mistakes. Maybe he has made some already. The thing I believe all Giants fans should be happy about is that Schoen and Brian Daboll appears to understand where the franchise is. They aren’t pretending that one or two big moves can fix everything and make them Super Bowl contenders. The trades back in the recent draft indicated Schoen understood the state of the roster and that, more than one specific player, he needed as many potentially useful players as he could collect. His free agency approach mirrored that.

I think Schoen and Co. understood what they needed to accomplish this offseason, and they stuck to their plan and did as much as they could.

‘Lawrence Taylor’ asks: Thomas Casale, of the New York Post wrote: “The Giants are my pick for most improved team in the NFL this season. Here’s the thing: Joe Judge is one of the worst NFL head coaches in my lifetime. Judge was never qualified to be a head coach other than the fact he had a cup of coffee with Bill Belichick.

Big Blue’s last three head coaches were Judge, Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo. When you’re the worst of those three, it says a lot. We don’t know how successful Brian Daboll will be as an NFL head coach but I feel confident he’ll be better than his predecessor.”

I remember you saying that after Judge’s first year, you had a better opinion of Judge than you did of Ben or Coach Shurmur after their first years. I am interested in how you would rank, or compare and contrast, the last three head coaches. I think it’s an important question because if Judge and staff really were that bad, maybe we can be a playoff contender under competent coaches. Thanks!

Ed says: It is absolutely true that I was optimistic about Judge after his first season as head coach. As a young, first-time head coach I thought he did a good job dealing with unprecedented circumstances. I thought/hoped that some of the things that troubled me — his overly conservative nature, the silliness with the laps, re-starting practices, etc., the strange situation with Mac Colombo, among them — would improve.

They did not.

In retrospect, Judge was not — and is not — ready to be a head coach. I think he wowed the Giants, who were desperate to be wowed by someone, in his interview process. I think Judge was actually shocked to get the job in his first NFL head-coaching interview — he let slip at one point last season that he had just come to New Jersey for “a conversation.”

I think Judge can be a really good head coach — he might be the most knowledgeable football man I have ever met in terms of his ability to dissect every position on the field. I think, though, that Judge needs to do what Brian Daboll did — get away from the Saban-Belichick influence, which is all he has really ever known as an assistant coach — and see that there are other ways to do things. That the tough guy routine isn’t necessary. You can’t be Belichick when you don’t have Belichick’s resume — a long line of unsuccessful head coaches have shown that.

I don’t think Judge was helped by the Giants’ front office. I have doubts that the relationship between Judge and Dave Gettleman was as seamless as co-owner John Mara wanted us to believe. Maybe Judge’s hands were tied in some ways by an organization that was set in his ways and its structure. Still, Judge’s undoing came mostly via his own hands and his own voluminous words.

McAdoo? A lot like Judge, in retrospect you can see that he just wasn’t ready to be a head coach. The only thing he knew how to do was run Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers’ 11-personnel heavy offense. He talked about toughness, but ran a country club training camp. He didn’t know how to relate to players, and when things went south it became obvious he didn’t have their respect. He didn’t know how to adjust, or want to adjust, in his offensive thinking.

Shurmur? Great guy, just not a winning NFL head coach. He was hired mostly to be the adult in the room and bring some professionalism back to the Giants after the embarrassment of 2017.

Shurmur did that. The problem Shurmur had is that he really didn’t seem like a leader, he didn’t seem to have a real vision for what he wanted the Giants to be or how he wanted them to get there. He couldn’t attract good assistant coaches. He just sort of showed up every day and worked. That might be cool when you’re running an offense, but not when you are the front man for an organization.

I can’t rank the three. Maybe Judge could have succeeded with more time and had he come in with a GM more aligned with his thinking. Then again, maybe that’s wishful thinking. All that really matters in the end is that all three were mistakes.

Stan C. asks: If the Browns were to actually cut Baker Mayfield would the Giants be interested in him? And should they?

Ed says: I’ve learned to never say never, but I would be stunned if the answer was yes. Like it or not, the Giants are committed to Daniel Jones for 2022, and to finding out if he can be their guy beyond that. Should they be interested? In my view, absolutely not.

Mayfield “might” be better than Jones. He certainly has better statistics, but he has also been in a much better situation. Think of the message a Mayfield signing sends to the players in the locker room. After months of supporting Jones, saying he is their starter, constructing an offense around what he does best, dumping him for Mayfield sends — in my view — an awful message to the locker room. It sends the message that whatever Schoen and Brian Daboll say should not be believed, and the last thing they can afford is to wreck their own credibility with the players before they have really even gotten started.

Larry Jamieson asks: Now that Bradberry is cut, what is the Giants cap situation right now? Enough to sign the rookies with a couple of pennies for the season? What’s the situation looking forward to 2023?

Ed says: Larry, Over The Cap shows the Giants with $14.891 million in cap space after releasing James Bradberry. They will use $12.676 million of that sign their 11 draft picks. By OTC’s math, that would leave them with $2.215 million in cap space. That is not nearly enough to get through the season.

Schoen is going to have to make more moves. That is why I believe Darius Slayton won’t make the roster. I believe players like C.J. Board, Richie James or Collin Johnson can fill that roster spot adequately for less than Slayton’s $2.54 million base salary. It is why the Giants are probably going to have to have to extend Leonard Williams’ contract to lower his $27.3 million cap hit. It is why you probably won’t see more than a veteran minimum depth signing at cornerback or safety, both still positions of need.

The 2023 season is a different matter. The Giants right now are flush, with more than $83 million in space based on a projected $225 million cap. Only the Chicago Bears ($112 million) have more projected cap space.

Pat Morris asks: So, the Giants could currently use some CB help. Here’s an idea out of left field ... could the Giants resign James Bradberry?

Hear me out. The Giants only have $2.2 million in effective available cap space via OTC. But the Commanders (who supposedly have an inside track) only have $5.2 million in effective available cap. Moreover, next year, the Giants have $67 Million in effective available cap space (second most in the league), while the Commanders are all the way down at $17 million.

Would it really be that bad if the Giants converted most of Leonard Williams salary this year into a bonus, and used the cap relief to resign Bradberry to a one-year deal? Even if we pushed $8 million of Williams salary into next year, we’d still be top 10 in the league in effective cap space. And we might be able to use $5 million or so of that to sign Bradberry to a one-year deal.

Ed says: I can’t find any rules that would prohibit the Giants doing that, but why would Bradberry do that? I’m sure he’s not happy with Joe Schoen right now, and he will end up with better offers than the Giants can afford from teams that should be better than the Giants this season.

If Bradberry and the Giants were going to work something out, that would have happened before he got released.