PHOENIX — Dave Gettleman has dismantled a big chunk of the Giants’ roster, while spending the team’s money in some odd places. He’s left a fan base angry, confused, and beginning to lose patience and hope.
In the end, though, Gettleman’s plan only really needs the approval of his bosses, and it’s safe to say that even though team ownership doesn’t meddle in football decisions, co-owner John Mara would have had to approve most of these offseason moves. There’s no way a big deal such as the Odell Beckham trade would’ve happened if ownership wasn’t in on it from the start.
So what do Mara and Steve Tisch think of what’s happening to their franchise? That’s a good question that will likely get answered this week, with both owners expected to speak to the media during the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.
Here are five big questions that both owners need to be asked:
1. When did things go wrong with Odell Beckham?
Mara would never have green-lighted Beckham’s five-year, $90 million contract (with $41 million guaranteed) if he really didn’t believe the receiver had a long-term future with the Giants. This time last year he was hopeful, but wasn’t sure. Then last August he decided to take the plunge.
Seven months later Beckham is traded. So what happened in the interim? As SNY reported, there was a feeling in the Giants that Beckham had become a “pain in the ass,” as multiple team sources indicated. It’s believed that Mara’s patience was lost after Beckham’s infamous ESPN interview where he questioned quarterback Eli Manning and indicated he wasn’t happy in New York.
After that interview, Mara said “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little last talking.”
So was that it? Was there more? An explanation is needed because it was more than “a football decision,” despite what GM Dave Gettleman said, and it’s as stunning a reversal as there’s been about a player in Giants history. Mara and Tisch paid Beckham $21 million for 12 games.
2. How much did ownership have to do with the Giants’ decision to stick with Eli Manning?
This has been a long-running conspiracy theory, that Mara – out of loyalty to the quarterback that brought him two Super Bowls, has somehow run interference and forced his GM to stick by the 38-year-old Manning. It’s been debunked by many, but Mara needs to address it – and to address Manning’s future.
Clearly he’s loyal to Manning, and clearly he wants to handle his exit with respect. Presumably he has OK’d the “Kansas City model” that Gettleman wants to do, where he brings in a young quarterback to sit and learn behind Manning. But that could still be awkward, even though Manning is obviously a lame duck with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Mara was furious two years ago with the clumsy way the Jerry Reese/Ben McAdoo tandem handled the (temporary) move away from Manning. It’s safe to say he’ll at least have a hand in how the move away from him permanently happens, if not when.
3. Is now absolutely the time to find Manning’s replacement?
Seems obvious, right? Really, it’s seemed obvious for years – including last year when they passed on all those franchise quarterbacks at the top of the draft. Mara has watched his GMs continually kicked the quarterback can down the road. But with Manning turning 38 and unsigned beyond this season, doesn’t the owner see the need to draft someone now (or trade for someone if Josh Rosen is available)?
Gettleman would not rule out waiting until the 2020 draft. But that could be dangerous and could mean another year of Manning, too. Mara and Tisch have to feel the urgency to do it now.
4. How do the owners like what Gettleman is doing?
First of all, for everyone that thinks the Giants are tanking, Mara and Tisch will clearly strongly dispute that. Back in 2017, when many thought the same thing, Mara famously said “That’s complete bull—t. I would never allow that here.”
So his opinion on Gettleman’s plan will have to do with both the future and the Giants’ chances of actually winning games in the present. Are they good with the seemingly conflicting moves of shedding contracts and talent like Beckham, Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon, while committing $23.2 million in cap space to a 38-year-old quarterback and giving $23 million guaranteed to 30-year-old receiver Golden Tate?
Last year, Mara indicated the rebuilding of his franchise was going to take longer than he anticipated. “I’m not sure it’s going to be a quick fix,” he said back in October. Are they closer? Is he happy with the plan, whatever it is?
5. What is the message to the fans, who have lost faith and have seen their favorite players thrown away?
What Mara and Tisch say to this is huge, because Beckham was a franchise icon, Collins was a very popular young player, and right now there is a lot of anti-Gettleman sentiment. All of that is in the context of the Giants missing the playoffs six of the last seven years. The fan base is so frustrated they’ve turned on Manning, with many wanting the Giants to move on, even though they don’t have anyone to move on to at the moment.
Can Mara and Tisch calm their fears? Can they say anything to appease everyone? Probably not. Nothing but wins will help. But they owe it to their paying customers to give it a try.