clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Blue View mailbag: Andrew Thomas, Saquon Barkley, Dave Gettleman, more

The mail’s here!

With the New York Giants fully immersed in training camp, this is another overflowing edition of the Big Blue View Mailbag. Let’s get to it.

James Pauloski asks: New contracts (or contract extensions) often result in increased cap space. With Andrew Thomas’s new contract, how much will it improve?

Ed says: James, Thomas’s 2023 cap hit was set to be $10.291 million. Here are the numbers as posted to Over The Cap.

The contract is worth $117.5 million with $67 million guaranteed. Including what Thomas was already due this season and next, the total value is $136.7 million. Dan Duggan of The Athletic is reporting a guarantee of $62 million, differing from the OTC numbers.

It breaks down like this:

Cap hit: $9.29 million
Base salary: $1.02 million (guaranteed)
Pro-rated signing bonus: $8.271 million

Cap hit: $23.675 million
Base salary: $14.175 million ($19.175 million guaranteed)
Pro-rated signing bonus: $3 million
Roster bonus: $5 million
Per-game roster bonus: $1 million ($58,823 per game)
Workout bonus: $500,000

Cap hit: $20.9 million
Base salary: $16.4 million (guaranteed)
Pro-rated signing bonus: $3 million
Per-game roster bonus: $1 million ($58,823 per game)
Workout bonus: $500,000

Cap hit: $20.4 million
Base salary: $15.9 million ($15.404 million guaranteed)
Pro-rated signing bonus: $3 million
Per-game roster bonus: $1 million ($58,823 per game)
Workout bonus: $500,000

Cap hit: $22.4 million
Base salary: $15.4 million
Pro-rated signing bonus: $3 million
Roster bonus: $2.5 million
Per-game roster bonus: $1 million ($58,823 per game)
Workout bonus: $500,000

NOTE: This is the first year where the Giants could feasibly get out of the deal. They could cut Thomas with $19.4 million in cap savings and $3 million in dead money.

Cap hit: $22.4 million
Base salary: $18.4 million
Roster bonus: $2.5 million
Per-game roster bonus: $1 million ($58,823 per game)
Workout bonus: $500,000

NOTE: The Giants could save $22.4 million against the cap with no dead money should they cut Thomas.

Cap hit: $22.9 million
Base salary: $18.9 million
Roster bonus: $2.5 million
Per-game roster bonus: $1 million ($58,823 per game)
Workout bonus: $500,000

NOTE: The Giants could save $22.9 million against the cap with no dead money should they cut Thomas.

David P asks: Can you explain why we’d extend Thomas before he’s due? With great value on first-round picks fifth-year option, how do you justify giving that up? And how dangerous is the precedent this sets with other players looking for new deals going forward? The additional unnecessary monies spent could have made SB a bit happier/motivated.

Ed says: David, the Giants did not give up Thomas’s fifth-year option. They signed him to a five-year extension that covers 2025-2029. So, they now have him under contract for the next seven years.

The only precedent they have set, which is a good one, is taking care of their own good, young players. Thomas, Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence. They brought Darius Slayton back on a two-year deal. As I explained above, doing it now also allows them to move some of the money in his current deal around and save some cap space.

Wait a year to sign Thomas and it probably costs them even more than the $117.5 million ($67 million guaranteed) they gave him.

A note about Saquon Barkley, since you mentioned him. I keep hearing things like ‘Daniel Jones should have given up some of his money,’ or your point that the Giants could have used some of what they gave Thomas to pay Barkley.

That’s not how this works. The Giants assigned a maximum value to the running back position that they were not going to exceed. Not getting a deal done had nothing to do with not having the money. They simply determined there was a max value they would pay for a running back and refused to go beyond it. They weren’t handicapped by what they gave other players.

Jacob Willett asks: Listening to Wink’s press conferences last year it seemed like he was actually a fan of Darnay Holmes, even giving him the nickname ‘Dirty’. Now that the Giants likely have some cap room due to Thomas’s extension do you think that the need to cut Holmes over his salary has lessened? I’m of the extreme minority of Giants fans who actually like Holmes. He’s a willing and able tackler, has a high motor, and statistically is pretty good at zone coverage. Those kinds of guys absolutely have a place on a team. Do you think that Wink would bang on the table for the Giants to keep him?

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The answer below was amended from the original one that posted since the savings from Thomas’s contract are different than originally reported].

Ed says: Jacob, there is only $1 million in cap savings for 2023 in Thomas’s deal — down from the $5 million that had been reported. That is not good news for Holmes.

After the Thomas deal, Over The Cap lists the Giants with $4.829 million in cap space, third-lowest total in the NFL. They still might need the $2.7 million they would get in cap relief from cutting Holmes more than they need Holmes on the field.

Stephen Goodyear asks: Let’s put the Shane Lemieux question to bed. The only way I see for him to stay on the roster is as a backup G and C. I for one like the idea of Hassenauer, a pure center, backing up a rookie. If he plays a passable guard that would be my choice. And there is always Bredeson. How do you see the backup C slot playing out?

Ed says: Stephen, I think you are right that Lemieux is going to have to show center/guard flex to make the roster. He has, by the way, been showing that in training camp as he has been taking center reps. Does he make the roster? That’s a 50-50 proposition. I just know that the Giants’ coaching staff showed at the beginning of last season that they like the player.

When it comes to J.C. Hassenauer, NFL teams generally don’t like to have backup players who can only play center. They want backup offensive linemen with some position flex because they go into most games with only three backups.

I don’t know how good he is at it, but Hassenauer has played 144 snaps at left guard over the past two seasons.

Right now, John Michael Schmitz and Ben Bredeson are rotating at center with the first team. Probably only one of Lemieux and Hassenauer makes the final roster.

Jonny Evans asks: I’m a happy Giants fan now that Saquon has a contract and everyone is in camp and ready to roll. I’ve read that it is possible for the Giants to tag him next year. I haven’t read anything about the possibility of tagging him the following year. My question is since a team is permitted to tag the same player two years in a row, and Saquon never actually signed his franchise tag this year (signed a one-year deal instead), does that mean the Giants have two more years of franchise tags for Barkley still on the table?

Ed says: Jonny, technically Barkley did sign the franchise tag and is playing the 2023 season on it. The Giants amended the tag to include performance-based incentives, which is allowed under league rules, but it is still the franchise tag.

Even with that being the case, the Giants do have two more years of franchise tags at their disposal. The reality is, though, it doesn’t make financial sense to use the third one.

If the Giants tag Barkley next season, that tag value is 20% higher than this year’s $10.091 million, meaning it will be $12.109 million. A third tag would be a 44% increase from the $12.109 million, bringing Barkley’s 2025 salary to $17.4 million. That would be the highly single-season salary ever paid to a running back, and I think we know the Giants aren’t going to go there.

Matthew Annunziata asks: After a nice surprise of hearing about the Giants signing Andrew Thomas to a 5-year extension, it got me thinking. Besides the usual suspects - McKinney, Jackson, and Williams - do you foresee, or are there any other player or players that the Giants may look at or could look at to extend? Either before the season starts or during the bye week?

Ed says: Matthews, as you mentioned the obvious extension/second contract candidate is Xavier McKinney. As I have written before, I think McKinney has a lot to prove in 2023 and I doubt the Giants are in a hurry to get this one done.

McKinney is talented, but he has only had one impact season out of three. That was 2021, the only time he was healthy for a full season. The 2022 season was a disaster for him.

He didn’t play nearly as well in the first half of the season as he had in 2022, then the Cabo mess happened. I think McKinney needs a healthy, productive season to earn that second contract.

Azeez Ojulari is another who needs a big 2023 for the Giants to begin thinking about an extension. It’s too early to talk about guys like Kayvon Thibodeaux or Evan Neal.

Laidlow asks: People tend to talk about AVV, guaranteed money, and the value of the RB position in dollars.

Why when discussing the Saquon contract, why is that the percentage of the cap isn’t discussed as much?

Derrick Henry is at 7%

Nick Chubb is currently 5.9%

With the Giants having cheap cost at key positions like RT, CB, Edge in the very near future while the cap is going up and the QB/DT already under control for the next 4yrs and Saquon currently at 4.3% of cap. Would a 2% hike in cap % be that detrimental to fiscal responsibility?

Ed says: Laidlow, no I don’t think a 2% hike in the cap percentage Barkley took up would have been fiscally irresponsible. Let’s talk about this for a minute, though.

If the reports of what the Giants offered Barkley before tagging him — contracts worth anywhere from $12.5 million to somewhere between $13 and $14 million are accurate — the Giants did offer him that kind of a raise. The cap is $224.8 million, and 6% of that is $13.48 million. So, the Giants did reportedly get into that neighborhood. Before applying the tag.

Barkley said no to those offers, and on Thursday he said they “didn’t make sense.” My view is that Barkley and his agent, Kim Miale of Roc Nation, bungled this. Maybe the guaranteed money offered wasn’t what Barkley wanted, but whatever the numbers were before the tag went into effect the deal was more lucrative and put more guaranteed money in Barkley’s pocket than $10.091 million.

Barkley saying no allowed the Giants to put the franchise tag into play. It allows them to put it in play again next year if they choose. Barkley complained about the tag, which does stink for players, but it was Barkley’s own decisions that put the hammer of Thor into Joe Schoen’s hands. And Schoen wielded it with authority by reportedly lowering the average annual value of what he was willing to pay Barkley, even though he did raise the guaranteed money somewhat.

That is the system that is in place, and Schoen used it to his advantage.

Tim Byer asks: Would you agree... Schoen and Daboll are purposefully setting precedents in contract negotiations (especially with Saquon), because they want to be doing this for the next 5-10 years. So right now they have a player on the franchise tag, and basically all the leverage, so they want to set the precedent that they will stand firm.

If they don’t stand firm now, how will that affect future negotiations in similar situations? If they cave in for a few million extra to appease the player, when they don’t really need to, won’t future players expect similar caving in?

I sense their actions reflect a longer-term vision than just Saquon’s contract. Would you agree? Sorry for the five questions.

Ed says: Tim, you didn’t ask multiple questions. You asked, in multiple ways, whether or not the way the Giants approached the Barkley contract reflected long-term thinking. The answer is absolutely yes. 100 percent.

Schoen has a way he wants to build this team. He seems to be a new-school thinker who believes in positional value, which means he believes in spending his premium draft picks and the bulk of his cap resources on what are considered to be the positions where you get the most value for the money you spend. Unfortunately for Barkley and every other running back, we have mounting evidence that spending big money on running backs, especially second contract big money, is not a good investment. That is because of declining performance, declining value for what you are paying, replaceability, and the reality that teams are winning — and winning big — without star running backs. You need a good one, or two, or three, but you don’t need a superstar with a superstar-sized cap hit.

I think Schoen has also shown with the contracts given to Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, Andrew Thomas, and even Darius Slayton that he wants to reward homegrown talent.

All of this is a long way for me to say that, yes, this is all about Schoen beginning to unveil (look, I didn’t say ‘showing’ again!) what he wants the Giants’ future to look like.

Mark Cicio asks: Doesn’t seeing the new, massive Justin Herbert contract even more so legitimize the DJ/Giants contract? You’ve been saying, and many of us agree, that DJ was paid appropriately (and maybe even favoring the Giants) compared to his possible potential in this settled coaching staff and game plan.

I’m on the boat that agrees Mara was on target when he said “We’ve done everything we could to screw up this kid”. I personally think we got a deal with that contract and, along with the Barkley signing, shows Schoen has some very good GM skills.

Ed says: Mark, I think everybody knew Herbert was going to get more than Jones — way more. So is Joe Burrow. So is Trevor Lawrence, eventually. Tua Tagovailoa might top Jones’ numbers, as well. The price tag for Jones raised eyebrows because of three years worth of Jones jokes, but he is paid like what he is — a guy who is probably in the 11-15 range among NFL starting quarterbacks.

Arun Avva asks: Hi! Long time reader, first-time question. With several Gettleman picks getting second contracts with the Giants, how does his draft record look in hindsight? Going by just numbers, here are his pick breakdowns by round:

Rd. 1 - Six picks, three long-term second contracts w/Giants, one on franchise tag with Giants, one traded, and one out of league

Rd. 2 - Three picks, one on a small second contract with other team (Hernandez), one likely long term with Giants (Ojulari), one may be long term with Giants (McKinney)

Rd. 3 - Five picks, two on modest second contracts with other teams (Carter and Hill), one role player with Giants (Ximines), one potential role player (Robinson), and one likely bust (Peart)

Rd. 4 & 5 - Eight picks, one on decent second contract with Giants (Slayton), one on decent second contract with another team (Love), one likely cap casualty for Giants (Holmes), one potential role player (Lemieux), and the rest either JAGs or out of the league

Rd. 6 & 7 - Ten picks, nobody of note

Another numbers approach: Of his 14 picks in the first three rounds, three are on big second contracts, one is franchise tagged, six are one or are likely to get small to medium second contracts, two are likely to bust, and one did bust. Of his 18 picks on Day 3, four have long-term potential in the league and the rest are either JAGs or out of the league (not busts because Day 3 players aren’t expected to be starters).

More qualitatively, Gettleman seems to have drafted at least three top 5 players at their position (Barkley, Thomas, and Lawrence), a franchise QB, several average to above average starters (Carter, Hill, Ojulari, McKinney, Love, Slayton, Holmes) and some guys with long term backup to average starter potential (Ximines, Lemieux). The Giants high paid core are Gettleman picks, and several picks of his form a solid middle class of NFL players albeit some for other teams. He hit on a decent number of Day 3 picks that outplayed their draft slots. You could definitely argue that he had a mixed bag assessing positional value and did a poor job with free agency and cap management. But most GMs are evaluated by their work in the draft and most teams with sustained post-season success are those that draft and develop well.

All of this is a long way of asking, two and half years removed from Gettleman how does he shake out as a drafter? Better than he seemed at the time with some bad HC pairings making him look worse? An average drafter who had the (mis)fortune of drafting in the top 10 in three of his four drafts? Or a below-average drafter who had some success just by the law of averages?

For me, I think he is an above-average drafter who wasn’t as bad at positional value as some would say. He did use a premium pick at RB. But he also didn’t play games in drafting his QB and used the rest of his first-round picks on high-value positions (OT, DT, CB, and WR). His real downfall is his poor free agency and cap management and the fact that he was paired with some not-good head coaches.

Ed says: Arun, welcome to the mailbag jungle! Nice summary.

For me, pure evaluation of talent in the draft was never a Dave Gettleman problem. He was always a quality scout. I don’t know that I would call him an “above average” drafter, but I think we are seeing over time that Gettleman did identify and draft some good players. And, he might have left the Giants with a franchise quarterback.

The problem with Gettleman as a drafter was his assessment of value, not his evaluation of players.

Saquon Barkley is a great player, but starting a rebuild by drafting a running back No. 2 overall was not a good strategy. Gettleman drafted four good players in 2018 — unfortunately, Lorenzo Carter, B.J. Hill, and Will Hernandez are showing that for other teams.

The trade-up for DeAndre Baker was a misallocation of resources. The Giants gave up two mid-round picks to move up seven spots when they could have simply sat at No. 37, drafted Greedy Williams or Sean Murphy-Bunting, and kept their other picks. The trade-down that netted Kadarius Toney, which I think Gettleman made just to prove he would, was a disaster. The Sam Beal thing was a silly swing-and-miss.