As we roll into another June weekend, let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and answer some New York Giants related questions.
ctscan asks: Hey Ed, thinking about the wide receiver competition that could develop assuming that everyone stays healthy. Yeah, big assumption. Figure that Hyatt, Robinson, and Hodgins are locks. My wish list based on ceiling would be Campbell, Johnson and I guess Slayton since they paid him, even Ford-Wheaton is intriguing. Say that for argument sake the Giants went with the youth movement and Shepard didn’t have a place on the roster. Do you think there’s any chance he would pass through waivers? Could and would Shepard be willing to be stashed on the practice squad?
Ed says: Considering the depth the Giants have at wide receiver and the injuries he has suffered the past two season, I do believe it is valid to wonder whether or not Shepard will make the season-opening roster.
I don’t see the practice squad as a realistic option, though I would not be surprised if he passed through waivers should the Giants cut him. Coming off back-to-back seasons with devastating leg injuries, a torn Achilles and a torn ACL, I can’t imagine Shepard would be in demand if he were released.
The more likely scenario, to me, would be that Shepard could begin the season on PUP or injured reserve and be a player the Giants looked to get a contribution from later in the season.
A player who begins the regular on PUP or IR has to miss the first four games.
Bob Donnelly asks: If you were to respond to a yes/no poll question “Is the Giants O line fixed? How would you respond?
Ed says: No, Bob, the offensive line is not “fixed.” I don’t know that I would ever say it was “fixed,” especially when we haven’t seen on-field evidence in some areas. Besides, keeping an offensive line functioning well means it should never be ignored, should never be treated like it is fixed and there is no work left to be done.
GM Joe Schoen has made strides toward improving the line. The depth is better — it’s apparent the Giants have more functional options than in the past.
Provided good health, the quality of the line in 2023 really comes down to how ready John Michael Schmitz is to succeed in the NFL, and how much improvement Evan Neal shows in Year 2.
Shelley Berman asks: Other than (Isaiah) Hodgins and (Darius) Slayton, which Giant wide receivers do you think we might see line up more often outside than in the slot?
Ed says: Shelley, I personally think the better question is which wide receivers earn the last couple of depth spots. It should be a really interesting competition.
In answer to your question, though, the obvious candidates are Jalin Hyatt and Collin Johnson. Bryce Ford-Wheaton (6-foot-3, 224) if he makes the roster. Sterling Shepard could play outside some as well if he makes the roster. Parris Campbell played mostly in the slot last year for the Indianapolis Colts, but maybe he sees some time outside if Wan’Dale Robinson is healthy. David Sills is also a possibility if he makes the team.
Doug Mollin asks: Do you think Dalvin Cook getting released this week has any impact on the Giant-Saquon negotiations? I guess where Cook eventually signs and for how much will be a bigger litmus test perhaps.
Still some time until we get to the July 17th deadline but I’m hoping Saquon can get a reasonable deal done — something with guaranteed money just above the $22M value of two years of tags.
Side question — do you think Mara is leaving this decision 100% to Schoen?
Ed says: Doug, honestly I don’t believe the Dalvin Cook release has much, if anything at all, to do with the Giants negotiations with Saquon Barkley. The Giants and Barkley are way too far down the road. The market was really already established before the Cook release, and the parameters of what each side is looking for have been there for a while.
As for John Mara’s involvement, I think to this point he has left the negotiation up to Joe Schoen. I do think he has made it clear in public that he wants Barkley around for at least the next few years, and Schoen knows that.
If things begin to turn ugly, would Mara step in? I doubt that he would publicly undermine Schoen, but I wouldn’t be shocked if behind the scenes he offers Schoen a “gentle nudge.”
Bob Donnelly asks: We know the Giants’ 2022 draft class was bit early and often by the injury bug. Due to those injuries several players are essentially looking at 2023 as their “rookie year”.
Which members of the class of 2022 do you see making significant impact this season?
Ed says: Bob, let’s skip past Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal and Daniel Bellinger. Let’s talk about three players who had their rookie seasons seriously curtailed — or obliterated — by injuries.
WR Wan’Dale Robinson — When the Giants surprised many by taking the diminutive receiver 43rd overall, they said they had a plan for him. A pair of knee injuries limited him to only six games and 23 catches. We never really saw what Robinson could do or what that plan really was, except in the nine-catch, 100-yard game against the Detroit Lions in which he suffered his season-ending injury.
Even with the additions of wide receivers Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt and Jamison Crowder, Robinson potentially possesses run after catch ability and the flexibility to be used in unique ways that no other receiver on the roster can match.
He could be a huge asset for the Giants if he can return to full health.
OL Joshua Ezeudu — The Giants drafted Ezeudu in the third round a year ago, and it seemed apparent after Shane Lemieux was injured that they really hoped Ezeudu would grow into the role of being the starting left guard.
That didn’t happen. Ezeudu was outplayed early in the year by the more experienced Ben Bredeson. When Bredeson was injured and Ezeudu got another chance he played better, but his season was cut short by a neck injury that landed him on IR.
He finished the season playing 290 offensive snaps in 10 games.
If Ezeudu is fully recovered from his neck injury, he could threaten Bredeson’s hold on that left guard job this season. Failing that, he could be a versatile backup at both guard spots and right tackle who might emerge as a potential left guard replacement for Mark Glowinski in 2024.
LB Darrian Beavers — Think back to last year. Beavers was an afterthought, a sixth-round pick most figured would be a nondescript special teams player. Then, training camp started and Beavers looked like he would earn a significant role on defense, if not a starting job. Then, of course, he suffered a torn ACL and missed the entire season.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale lauded Beavers’ physicality and said watching him just looked different than watching the other linebackers the Giants had at the time. If he is fully healthy I don’t think anyone would be shocked if he passed both Jarrad Davis and Micah McFadden by and ended up earning a regular role on defense in 2023.
David Brenner asks: With the Gmen in a tight cap situation, I’m surprised there’s been no discussion of replacing Tyrod Taylor with a cheaper option. There are a lot of back up qb’s who could be had for less than half of his 7 million salary next year. I get why they were willing to pay a premium for him last year, with DJ a bit of a question mark to the new gm and coach. But, I think TT’s only marginally better than other cheaper guys, and if DJ went down, the season would be imperiled nearly as much with TT as those other guys. In fact, I wasn’t really impressed with TT in the few times he got on the field last year.
Ed says: David, first let’s get the numbers right. Taylor’s base salary for 2023 is $5.45 million, not $7 million. He does carry a $6.9 million cap hit because of his original pro-rated signing bonus.
Now, who would you replace Taylor with if you shoved him out the door? Mitchell Trubisky has a two-year, $11.25 million contract. Andy Dalton is signed for two years and $10 million. Seems like Taylor’s contract is right in the ballpark for what a veteran backup with significant starting experience
It’s easy to say let’s cut the backup quarterback and save money — until the starter gets hurt and you wish you had a good backup. Go to this list and tell me which of the backups you would rather have. Or this one and tell me who you would sign.
Now, could they do something with Taylor’s contract to lower the cap hit? Maybe. They could convert more of his money to a signing bonus, pushing a little more into his 2024 void year and lowering the cap hit. Or maybe they could extend him for a year.
I am not going to try and make a case for Taylor as some kind of fantastic player, but he is the type of player good teams look for and need at the backup quarterback spot. At least one former NFL coach thinks he is the best backup quarterback in the league. I think the Giants have other ways of massaging their cap.
Dennis Kelly asks: Can a player who is cut decline to go to another team that selects him off waivers?
I keep reading how the Giants gave Bryce Ford-Wheaton a “substantial UDFA guarantee of $236,000 ($216,000 guaranteed salary, $20,000 bonus)” in the hope that this would endear him to the team.
If the Giants want to stash him on the practice squad to develop him, they would have to cut him (presuming he loses out on the numbers game at WR) and he would have to clear waivers before he could be put on the practice squad - correct?
But if another team claims him off waivers (and it appears other teams were interested in him), can Ford-Wheaton decline going to that other team (presumably because he feels a sense of loyalty to the Giants for their investment and interest in him)?
I get that the amount of guaranteed money for Ford-Wheaton is not going to bring financial ruin to the Giants if they lose him, but I still see it as a significant signal that they want to find a way to keep him (provided he proves himself in camp).
Your thoughts are appreciated.
Ed says: Yes, if Ford-Wheaton does not make the 53-man roster the Giants would have to place him on waivers before they could sign him to the practice squad.
Everything I can find indicates that when a player on waivers is claimed by and awarded to another team his contract belongs to that team. There’s no ‘right of refusal’ for a player that I know of. I guess that player could refuse to report but the claiming team would still own his contract.
Now, if you are on a team’s practice squad and another team offers to sign a player to its 53-man roster a player can choose to stay or go. Jarrad Davis refused several offers from the Giants last year before finally leaving the Detroit Lions practice squad. I remember former Giants’ backup quarterback Alex Tanney telling me about refusing an offer from the Cleveland Browns while he was on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad. Tanney and his family were entrenched in the Tennessee community, and he chose to stay.
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