New York Giants: Is Dave Gettleman a madman or a genius?

There is arguably no general manager in the NFL under more scrutiny heading into the 2019 season than New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman. Gettleman has made various questionable choices this offseason, and we will try to make sense of it all.

After just two years at the job, New York Giants’ fans everywhere are asking for Dave Gettleman’s head. From trading away fan favorite players to surprising everyone in the draft, it’s safe to say Gettleman likes to take risks. However, these risks are putting the Giants in jeopardy of having a third consecutive losing season. If the Giants do not earn a winning record in 2019, look for some of these decisions to be the reasons why. Below I’ll try to make sense of all the madness this offseason has brought.

Trading Odell Beckham Jr.

“We didn’t sign him to trade him.” – Dave Gettleman in January, two months before trading him.

“I’m a cancer to a place that’s ok with losing because I want to win that BAD.” – Odell Beckham Jr. addressing comments about him being a “cancer” to the Giants.

Rather than holding the Giants back, I believe the Giants were holding Odell back. Odell Beckham Jr. was a superstar from the moment he walked across that stage. Yes, he was a drama queen at times, but he was the Giants’ drama queen. When quarterback Eli Manning needed his safety blanket, Beckham was there. The stats show it as well. The Giants were a completely different offense with Beckham off the field. But the off-field antics proved to be too much drama for Gettleman to handle. The headache was no longer worth the reward. Furthermore, with the success of running back Saquon Barkley, it seems Gettleman has replaced Beckham with Barkley as the offense’s security blanket for explosive plays. As much as it hurts to admit, it looks Odell was more of a luxury than a necessity at this point.

The Giants had too many holes to fill to complete the jump from having the second-worst record to a contender. As much as fans nationwide love Odell, it doesn’t make sense to spend over $20M yearly on a receiver when 1) the defense kept getting exposed late in games, 2) the offensive line continuously allowed pressure, and 3) the offense flowed better when the run game was featured more. These facts were evident in the four games Odell did not play in last year. In those games, the Giants had their biggest win of the season and lost two games by one point each.

I wouldn’t say the Giants are a better team without Beckham. However, the Giants can be a better team by hitting on the three prospects they obtained through the trade.

Does the trade make sense for the Giants?

The only issue I have with this trade is the fact it felt rushed and desperate. Gettleman admitted he did not shop Odell around after the Cleveland Browns made their offer, which appears to be a sign of desperation to get him out of the organization. If he would have remained patient, it is possible he could have acquired more picks or better players in the trade. Considering Odell was the #1 ranked offensive player of the Giants’ offense, as well as the fifth overall receiver of 2018, it’s more than likely another team would have attempted to trade more value for him. However, acquiring safety Jabrill Peppers in the trade with the Browns was probably the deal sweetener. By letting Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins go in free agency, the secondary had a massive hole to fill. For this trade, I give Gettleman the benefit of the doubt.

Trading away Olivier Vernon

I was a fan of Olivier Vernon since back in his Miami Dolphins days. Vernon is a force on the defensive line and was the leading pass rusher for the Giants last year. Vernon tallied seven sacks, and a forced fumble in 11 games played, earning him his first Pro Bowl selection. However, Vernon is due over $15M in 2019 and 2020. As a result, he was packaged with a fourth-round pick in exchange for G Kevin Zeitler and a fifth-round pick from the Browns. Gettleman is continuing his promise to improve the offensive line (more on that below), but he created yet another hole in the process.

At first, I believed Vernon was another cap casualty due to his massive contract. Even though Vernon was the leading rusher, there were games where his production did not match his high salary. For having the fifth-highest salary value in 2018 out of all defensive ends, the Giants expected more. However, according to ESPN’s team beat reporter Jordan Raanan, Vernon might have been another “culture change” casualty after reports came out regarding a feud between him and Head Coach Pat Shurmur. If that’s the case, it seems Gettleman is trying to run a strict “my way or the highway” leadership style.

Considering the massive contract and the lack of help for Vernon once DL Damon Harrison was traded away mid-season, I believe this trade will benefit both sides in the long run. Vernon will be able to thrive in a defense where there are more active pass rushers. Meanwhile, the Giants will save over $15M to use on multiple players in areas of need. While I don’t like that the Giants lost a very good defensive end, I do believe this trade could be beneficial for the Giants

Letting Landon Collins walk

Safety Landon Collins was a fan-favorite and a Pro Bowl player. He became a victim to Gettleman’s cleaning house. Collins was eligible for a franchise tag that would have been worth $11.2M. Any contending team in need of a safety would be interested in trading for a Pro Bowl player at that price range. Instead, Gettleman let him walk freely, and will likely regret that decision at least twice a year when Collins faces off against his former team. Currently, Collins is signed for about $15M a year with the Washington Redskins. If Collins was franchised and then dealt, the Giants could at least have had a say as to which team he ended up at.

Some fans wonder why the Giants did not do a sign and trade. In my opinion, it seems Gettleman had the Browns trades already in mind. As a result, Gettleman likely knew the hole would not stay empty for long. Furthermore, the Giants will receive a compensatory pick in the 2020 draft as a result of Collins departing. However, if the Giants would have franchised Collins, it’s possible the Browns could have filled another void. For example, the Giants could have acquired defensive lineman Emmanuel Ogbah, who was instead traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Signing Golden Tate to replace Odell Beckham Jr.

With the departure of Odell to the Browns, a need for a number 1 receiver was left open on the Giants. Enter wide receiver Golden Tate, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles from the Detroit Lions last year. Tate was signed for four years, $37.5M with $23M guaranteed. Tate has played at least 15 games in every season after his rookie season in 2010. This toughness and consistency will prove to be beneficial for the offense.

The main concern with this signing is the position Tate will play in along with the other receivers. Sterling Shepard played over half his snaps in the slot receiver position. Per NextGenStats, Golden Tate played over 69% of his snaps. It’s possible Tate and Shepard can split plays in the slot, but that is something HC Shurmur will have to play out in the preseason.

Retooling the Offensive Line… Again

When Gettleman took the job as GM in December 2017, he inherited the 26th ranked offensive line which allowed the fourth-most sacks that year per PFF. As a result, one of his first declarations for the Giants was for a better o-line to protect QB Eli Manning. Desperate for improvements, Gettleman signed tackle Nate Solder to the largest contract for this position.

Furthermore, Gettleman used the team’s second-round pick that year for left guard Will Hernandez. When the offensive line struggled in the first half of the season, Gettleman made some changes. Gettleman cut their 2015 draft bust Ereck Flowers after just two weeks and cut guard Patrick Omameh after six games with the team. Furthermore, Solder fixed his early struggles, and Hernandez gelled into a productive guard, ranking second among all rookie guards.

This offseason, Gettleman traded for G Kevin Zeitler and signed free agent tackle Mike Remmers. Zeitler was the sixth-ranked guard per PFF in 2018. Remmers ranked 50th out of 81 qualifying guards. However, he played out of position last year and should benefit from moving back to the tackle spot. After all these additions, Gettleman is contributing over $37M, almost 20% of the cap space, to the offensive line. They look much better on paper heading into the summer. If this group improves as much as analysts expect it to, then this shall be one of the brighter spots of Gettleman’s tenure.

Drafting Daniel Jones with the Sixth Overall Pick

The final straw that broke the camel’s back for Giants fans is the selection of Quarterback Daniel Jones at sixth overall. Some analysts and fans hate the selection of Jones, especially considering QB Dwayne Haskins was still available. Other supporters are upset that Jones was selected sixth overall when it’s likely he would have been available at 17th – the Giants’ second first-round pick. With Haskins falling to 15, it’s easier to see Jones falling to 17 now than before the draft. Teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, and the Denver Broncos were all projected to pick quarterbacks in the first round. Instead, they each went a different direction, proving Gettleman wrong in his pre-draft prediction. Gettleman stated he was sure two teams would have drafted Jones if he would have slid past the sixth pick. Instead, he appears to have reached immensely for the Duke quarterback.

Jones is expected to be the successor to Manning whenever the Giants decide to move on. Lucky for Jones, Manning is currently signed until the end of the 2019 season. Many expect Jones to earn the starting job sometime during the season. However, Gettleman’s dedication to having Manning under center might cause him to remain the starter for the entire season. The only way Manning remains as the starting QB past 2019 is if he leads the team to a top-10 offensive ranking. If not, then look no further than next summer for Jones to hit the field.

The only way for this pick to be justified is if Daniel Jones becomes a successful quarterback. If Jones turns out to be another JaMarcus Russell or Jake Locker, Giants fans will never let it go.

The rest of the 2019 NFL Draft selections

Gettleman maintained his aggressiveness through the rest of the draft. After picking twice in the first round, Gettleman traded up to acquire a third pick to select cornerback Deandre Baker. This move provides the Giants with a starting corner and arguably the best corner in the draft. Some analytics consider the selection of defensive end Oshane Ximines in the third round a stretch; however, it seems Gettleman made this selection to replace Olivier Vernon in the pass-rush. The majority of the draft was spent on improving the defense, with only three of 10 picks going towards the offense. Even a couple of the undrafted free agents signed seem likely to make a difference.

Analysis

As much as I agree with the concerns of hundreds of Giants fans everywhere, I believe it is still too soon to call for the removal of GM Dave Gettleman. This upcoming season will be only the second played under Gettleman. Other than the Daniel Jones draft pick, I believe his moves can result in a better Giants team. Keyword: CAN. The performance of the offense will be the determinant as to whether Gettleman made the right moves. If the Giants make the playoffs next season, every Giants fan who criticized Gettleman will owe him an apology. If not, Gettleman will be answering questions next spring about whether his questionable choices this year were mistakes. For the time being, Giants fans have to be patient and wait until September before passing judgment.

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