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Big Blue View mailbag: Darius Slayton, J.C. Tretter, more

The mail’s here!

With New York Giants mandatory mini-camp having concluded, we have now entered the NFL dead zone that is the weeks before training camp. Let’s try to fill your need for Giants news and discussion by opening the Big Blue View Mailbag.

Ed says: Darius Slayton. No doubt. Why would the Giants have bothered to negotiate a pay cut with Shepard if cutting him this season was even a consideration? Simple — they wouldn’t have. Cut Shepard and that’s a $4.245 million dead money hit this year and next, while saving only $2.058 million this season. That would make no sense.

Cut Slayton, on the other hand, and the Giants save $2.54 million with a minimal $58,497 dead money hit.

I don’t know that they will cut Slayton, though I think it’s a strong possibility because of the Giants’ still-shaky cap situation. Slayton’s performance has slipped drastically since his hope-inspiring 2019 rookie season. To stick on the 2022 Giants, I think Slayton is going to have to make the team’s new coaching staff believe he can still be the player he hinted at being as a rookie.

Ronald Buchheim asks: Ed, can you explain why Darius Slayton is running with the third team in the mandatory minicamp? With Golladay, Toney, Shepard and Robinson locked in, do you have any sense of who might be the fifth or sixth receiver — Sills, Board, or James, who are running with the second team? Beyond the first four, there doesn’t seem to be any outstanding candidate, which seems a bit concerning, although James has reportedly looked good lately. Could Sills or Board actually be the fifth or sixth receiver?

Ed says: Another Slayton question! First of all, let me say that coach Brian Daboll downplayed who ran with what unit during the spring, saying the Giants had a “rep chart, not a depth chart.”

Still, we heard the same stuff a few years ago from Pat Shurmur when one-time starting linebacker B.J. Goodson ran with the third team throughout training camp, and was ultimately traded to the Green Bay Packers before the season started. Whether Daboll wants to say it out loud or not, and I can’t blame him for not wanting to say it, who works with what group means something.

I have been clear for months. I do not think Slayton is making the 53-man roster. Now, could I be wrong? Absolutely. Shockingly, that has happened before and will happen again.

When it comes to Slayton, he had a promising rookie season but his play has gone backwards the last two seasons. His paycheck, though, has ballooned to $2.54 million due to proven performance escalators. I think, in the end, the Giants are going to look at a player who is likely to be their fifth wide receiver and think that is way too much to pay a guy who can’t help them on special teams.

James has been impressive. He can play multiple positions on offense and is a proven kickoff and punt returner. C.J. Board is a decent depth receiver and can do a lot of things on special teams. Robert Foster is a guy who had success playing for Daboll in Buffalo a few seasons back.

In the end, I just believe the Giants are going to conclude they have more versatile, less expensive options than Slayton at the tail end of their receiver depth chart.

ctscan123: A few weeks back there was a news story about the Giants being interested in JC Tretter. While you take items like that with a grain of salt, it sounded great to me if true. Tretter would certainly be a nice upgrade over Feliciano and we could possibly push the line into dominant territory. As these things tend to, the story went no where thus far.

Any insight into why this guy isn’t signed yet? Would you be interested in Tretter? How much you feel like he would cost? How long a contract would you offer a 31-year-old center? I’d love to offer him a two- or three-year deal a little backloaded to take advantage of some of the room next year.

Ed says: First of all, let’s clarify something about the Giants’ interest in Tretter. To my knowledge, there is none. That “report” wasn’t a report. That was a writer “speculating” that in his opinion Tretter would be a good fit for the Giants.

It is absolutely true that Tretter is a more accomplished player than Jon Feliciano, whom the Giants signed to be their starting center. Feliciano has never been a full-time starting center. Tretter has been a starting center since 2016, and started 80 consecutive games for the Cleveland Browns.

Fact is, the Giants can’t afford Tretter. He was entering the final year of a three-year, $32.55 million contract when Cleveland cut him. They have been trolling the bargain bin of free agency offering veteran salary benefit one-year deals for a reason — that’s what they can do under the current circumstances.

My guess is Tretter sits and waits. A good team likely to be a playoff contender will come along once there is a training camp injury or that team has seen enough to realize the answer at center isn’t on its roster.

Maybe a year from now the Giants will be in a position to chase this caliber of free agent. Right now, Over The Cap shows them with barely more than $6 million in cap space. That won’t be enough to get through the season and deal with adding new players to fill in for injured ones.

Patrick Bulgaro asks: A short, simple question. What is the role of a quality control coach on an NFL team and do you typically need playing or coaching experience to perform it?

Ed says: Rather than give you what I think the role entails, I asked former Giants scouting assistant Tom Rudawsky for his take on the role of a quality control coach. Rudawsky said:

“The QC’s are typically the lowest on the totem pole on a coaching staff. They usually do a lot of administrative stuff for the OC/DC and of course head coach like making play sheets, doing film cutups and film study for them, and a bunch of other miscellaneous projects. They usually have a position or two that they focus on coaching as well and work with during practice.

“It’s an absolute grind of a role and kinda where all the great coaches started off.”

Andrew Smith asks: The new regime has obviously made a lot of changes, but I haven’t read about many changes designed to reduce injuries. It feels like the Giants have lost an unusual number of impact players for an unusual number of games in all of the past few years. Is the new regime taking any significant steps to change this?

Ed says: Andrew, injuries are impossible to predict and why the Giants have had such difficulty with them in recent years is impossible to explain. They have used GPS tracking data to measure player workloads for years, and going all the way back to Tom Coughlin have adjusted practices and training methods to try and keep players healthy.

Now, it is Brian Daboll’s turn. He said this week that there has been a “collaborative” effort across the organization to address the injury issue.

“Certainly, I have ideas, but I’m not a doctor or a trainer. But sports science, analytics, I think there’s really good give-and-take,” Daboll said.

“As a coach, you always want to have as many reps as you can get. Probably 10 years ago, I’d have been like let’s come out here and do a thousand reps, but I think it’s important to get all the information and make good, educated decisions.

“I learned a lot in my time at Buffalo, how they did things in that regard, the reps, what we did with the players, and it really paid off.”

There is, of course, no perfect way to prevent injuries or rehab players who have suffered injuries.

“Look, there’s a time to be smart and there’s a time to make sure you’re pushing through things the best you can. You have to balance those,” Daboll said. “June 8th. So guys that we’ve got to take a little bit off them on June 8th so they’re ready to go fully on July 26th, I think that’s being smart.

“You push guys through in training camp, maybe it’s the same exact thing and they don’t have a red jersey on. It’s week two in training camp, everybody is sore, we know we’re sore, but we’ve got to get ready to go, then there’s a time to push through things.

“All we’re trying to do is try to be as healthy as we can be when training camp gets here.”

Taj Siddiqi asks: When Joe Judge’s tenure started I and a lot of us were excited and after his introductory presser [and] thought Giants finally found the right guy to lead the team. Well we all know how the whole situation turned out. So on the scale of 0 to 10 what is your level of confidence that this GM, HC and his staff will guide our team towards a better future? Also what different reasons or arguments can you line up to support your level of confidence?

I personally have decided to wait and see the actual product in real games before getting excited and forming an opinion about this staff after experiencing the disastrous end of the previous regime.

Ed says: Taj, there is no doubt that Joe Judge’s introductory press conference had everyone excited, and that his tenure didn’t live up to what that day seemed to promise. Winning the presser, though, is the easy part.

What is my level of confidence that the new regime will lead the Giants to a better future? I don’t think I can put a number on it, but I will say that I feel good about the possibility that Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll might be the right duo to lead the Giants back to respectability.

As for reasons why, I will start with this being the first time the Giants head coach and GM have been on the same page in a long time. I thought Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese weren’t in synch the last few years they were together, and pretty much every coach-GM duo since that time has been an arranged marriage that just hasn’t worked. For as much as John Mara told us he liked the way Judge and Dave Gettleman worked together, it is pretty apparent those words didn’t match the reality of the situation.

Giants ownership hired Schoen and then allowed Schoen to hire Daboll. You can put me in the camp that believes if ownership had hired the coach it wanted Brian Flores would have gotten the job.

I like what Schoen has done thus far. He’s smart, he’s progressive, he believes in positional value and he understands that getting the job right is something that is going to take more than one offseason.

I like the accomplished, veteran coaching staff Daboll has put together. I like the fact that the atmosphere around the Giants doesn’t feel as uptight as it did the last couple of years. I like the fact that Daboll seems comfortable with who he is, and that he seems to want players to play freely.

Yes, this is still the honeymoon phase. How it all turns out is anyone’s guess. I think, though, that it is OK to let yourself be optimistic that the Giants might finally be on the right path with the right people.

Jim Jordan asks: Can you explain how the cost of fifth-year options for first round picks is determined? I saw something yesterday that Barkley’s fifth year option was costing the Giants a bit over $7 million this year. But the numbers I’ve seen for Daniel Jones’ option were over $22 million. I’m assuming it must be based on position in some fashion, but a $15 [million] difference when Barkley was a No. 2 and Jones a No. 6 seems like a really wide spread.

Ed says: Jim, the difference is due to the average salaries at quarterback vs. running back. Here is a good explanation:

The salary for the Fifth-Year Option is also different for two types of players: those selected in the top-10 picks and all other first-round selections.

The option for top-10 picks is set at an amount equal to the salary of the Transition Tender (set in Article 10, Section 4 of the CBA) for the player’s fourth contract year. This salary is calculated, to put it simply, by finding the average of the top ten highest Prior Year Salaries for players at the same position. Positions are defined by where a player spent the most plays during the previous season (Sec. 7, (a), 31), unless you ask Jimmy Graham.

For players selected between 11th and 32nd in the draft, the same calculation is used to compute their salaries. The difference lies in what is averaged; rather than the top ten, the 3rd-25th highest Prior Year Salaries for the player’s position will be used.