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Big Blue View mailbag: Andrew Thomas, Darius Slayton, Micah Parsons, more questions

The mail’s here!

Let’s fill a little bit of the long wait you have for New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football by opening the Big Blue View Mailbag.

Alan Goldstein asks: Earlier in the offseason I mentioned the prospect of trading Andrew Thomas before he gets to a second contract. My thesis was based on the Laremy Tunsil trade which netted 2 first rounders, a second rounder and a few players. In a few years AT will be asking for upwards of $25 Mil guaranteed and that’s a huge cap hit. Many of the experts have pointed out that the difference between the best LT and a good LT is not as much as the difference between a good CB and the best CB.

If we could get a couple of first rounders and a second for AT do you think that would be a wise deal to make rather than paying him top LT dollar.

Ed says: Alan, the Giants have been looking for a top-tier left tackle for a looooong time. Now, they have one and you’re talking about trading him away. I don’t get it. There are financial decisions the Giants will have to make, but GM Joe Schoen is trying to put the Giants into a healthy cap situation where they don’t have to make a decision on whether or not they can afford to keep one of their best players. That’s why he doesn’t want to kick money down the road.

Trade Thomas? Not unless the Giants get to that point and feel they have no way of paying him. I think Schoen is determined to make sure he isn’t in that situation.

Raymond Dansereau asks: I suppose this is a little bit of a pro-Slayton question; but my question is without him how do the Giants stretch the field? Seems like currently a lot of running and shorter passes. Without a deep threat to stretch the field, won’t defenses eventually key in on that? That’s why I don’t understand the limited use of Slayton so far. Is there a way to stretch the field without him?

Ed says: Raymond, I get that there are a lot of Giants fans who want to see Darius Slayton get more opportunities. I have to remind everyone, though, that Slayton’s performance regressed significantly season over season after a good 2019 rookie year. He dropped 10.3 percent of the passes thrown to him a year ago. If you go by resume, and I understand that isn’t the right way to do it, Kenny Golladay deserves a full opportunity before Slayton. He’s been a more productive NFL player.

Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka and wide receivers coach Mike Groh have had a lot of success in the NFL. They can judge talent. If Slayton isn’t playing, there is a reason.

As for stretching the field, where did the idea come from that Slayton is the only fast guy the Giants have who can run a deep pattern?

Here are some numbers.

Slayton’s pre-draft 40-yard dash time was 4.39. Kadarius Toney’s was 4.38. So, yeah, Toney has actually timed faster.

Wan’Dale Robinson ran a 4.44 (76th percentile) and Richie James ran 4.48 (63rd percentile). That’s plenty fast enough. Saquon Barkley has 4.40 40 speed. The Giants could stretch the field with him if they want. Tight end Daniel Bellinger’s 4.63 40-yard dash is 86th percentile for tight ends. In the right matchup, the Giants could stretch the field with Bellinger.

Maybe Slayton will get a bigger opportunity at some point. Maybe that even comes on Monday. He has to be able to do more than run fast, though, to get it. If he does, hopefully he takes advantage of it.

I think you are right that the Giants have relied on the running game and a short passing attack. They are two games into a new era with a new offensive scheme with Daboll and Kafka. They are at the beginning. Schoen has had one draft, and had virtually no money to spend in free agency. They likely don’t have the personnel they truly want yet. Yes, they’ve been conservative. They have also won two games. You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.

The Giants were never going to come out of the gate looking like the Chiefs or the Bills on offense.

M2-0 Buscemi asks: Always enjoy reading your Saturday morning mail bag. Like most Giant fans I’m encouraged about the 2-0 start. As we get ready to face the Cowboys Monday night how did we ever not take Parsons when we had the chance? He is probably the best linebacker in football right now — he is a human vacuum cleaner. So, again, why didn’t we draft Parsons?

Ed says: We’ve been through this, and Giants fans should know the answer, but we will go through it again.

The Giants had the 11th overall pick in the 2021. Both Parsons and offensive tackle Rashawn Slater were still on the board after the player most thought the Giants would select, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants chose to make a trade with the Chicago Bears, moving down to No. 20. They also got a 2021 fifth-round pick (which they used to trade up for cornerback Aaron Robinson) in Round 3, a 2022 fourth-round pick that turned into Daniel Bellinger and the No. 7 overall pick that turned into Evan Neal.

Then-GM Dave Gettleman was widely praised at the time for finally recognizing the Giants were in a rebuild, that accumulating extra draft picks was a good approach.

Now, Parsons has been even better than most thought he would be — and most analysts thought he would be really good. Slater’s a terrific tackle.

It comes to this. Would you rather have Parsons or the combination of Neal, Bellinger, Robinson and Kadarius Toney? Maybe you make the argument that if the Giants don’t have two first-round picks they take Neal or Ickey Ekwonu at No. 5 and don’t have Kayvon Thibodeaux. Then, just replace Neal on that list with Thibodeaux.

Gettleman and the Giants did what they felt was right for the long-term best interests of the franchise.

Parsons is a great player. The Giants, though, banked on the sum of what they could collect with the additional assets being more beneficial than one player. Now, Toney might not have been the right pick at No. 20 a year ago, but the theory behind what they did was, and is, still the correct one for a building team.

Charles Calabria asks: How do contract buy outs work in the NFL? Could the giants at least offer a buy out to Kenny Golladay? He gets some of his money and freedom to sign somewhere else, the Giants open some cap room now and get rid of a player they clearly don’t want. Am I crazy for thinking that’s a possibility?

Ed says: Charles, in general there are no “contract buyouts” in the NFL. If a team wants to cut a player, they cut a player. That player still gets however much guaranteed money was agreed to when he signs his contract, and the team is still charged with the “dead money” on its salary cap.

Golladay had $40 million guaranteed in his four-year, $72 million deal. His cap hit this year is $21.15 million. That RISES to $25.4 million because of guarantees in his contract that are rolled into 2023.

Former sports agent and current CBS Sports cap analyst Joel Corry said this about NFL contracts:

“The NFL isn’t the NBA. Buyouts really don’t exist in the NFL.”

If the two sides did want to part ways this season, the template for doing so might have been established last year by Odell Beckham and the Cleveland Browns.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap said there aren’t true buyout clauses in NFL contracts, but added this:

“Occasionally there are clauses that allow a player to buy free agency. But basically you would try to agree to a new contract to release someone with guarantees. Kind of like Beckham last year with the Browns.”

Even following such a template, the Giants aren’t getting out of the Golladay deal this season — if both sides want to do that — without some serious financial pain.

Ian Hobbs asks: Did you happen to catch any of the Raiders-Cardinals 4th quarter? I generally liked Patrick Graham, but watching the Raiders sit back and get picked apart by a good quarterback and giving up a lead in the last two minutes of a game brought back a lot of bad memories. Graham’s cover defense is such a contrast from Wink Martindale’s attacking D where the quarterbacks can never feel too comfortable. And so far, Martindale has been doing it with a similar group of front seven defenders and arguably a weaker secondary from last year. How are you feeling about the Giants ending up with Martindale over Graham?

Ed says: Ian, I did not see the end of that game. I can, though, address the differences between Graham and Martindale.

I think Graham is a tremendous defensive coordinator. He’s intelligent, he communicates well with players, he teaches well, he truly cares about the men he coaches. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a head-coaching opportunity one day.

Graham simply has a different philosophy than Martindale. Graham tries to cause confusion by disguising coverages. He tries to keep plays in front of defensive backs and rally to the ball.

Martindale wants to cause confusion at the line of scrimmage. He wants to dictate to the offense at all times. If he exposes the secondary, oh, well. He’s counting on the pass rush, and the confusion, to make that unimportant.

They are just different. I love the attitude Martindale has brought to the Giants, it’s something they have been missing for a while now.

Jeffrey Camp asks: Now that Bredeson is clearly grading out higher and taking the majority of snaps at one of the G positions what do you see happening when Lemieux is ready to play? It will be interesting seeing that he has experience at either G spot & has worked at C as well. Right now Feliciano and Glowinski are clearly the weakest links on the OL. Hopefully the “play the best player” mantra will extend to those brought in by Schoen/Daboll, too. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Jeffrey, I think it is far too early to draw any conclusions. Ben Bredeson graded out higher than Joshua Ezeudu in one game. They graded pretty equally in Week 1. That’s not a big enough sample size to simply say Bredeson deserves all the snaps and Ezeudu goes to the bench.

What happens when Shane Lemieux returns? I don’t know. First of all, I don’t have any idea when Lemieux will be back. Last time I saw him was after Week 1 and he was navigating the locker room on crutches. I don’t know if he had had surgery on his foot/toe injury, but he certainly didn’t look like a guy who would be ready to play by Week 5.

Maybe Bredeson plays really well and grabs that job. Maybe Jon Feliciano struggles and Bredeson moves to center with Ezeudu and Lemieux competing for left guard.

I do think all of this bears watching, but I can’t predict how it will all play out.