Just 15 months ago, the Giants hired Dave Gettleman to fix the franchise. He earned praise for a series of early housecleaning moves. He seemed tough and honest, and it looked like he had a handle on the franchise’s biggest problems.
Now, suddenly, his new title is “embattled GM”.
That’s what he gets from a “no guts, no glory” approach to the offseason, that has so far featured the dumping of several of his best players, including wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., one of the NFL’s biggest stars. He’s being called names by a bitter fan base. He’s portrayed as an old man without a clue. And no one seems to have a handle on his plan.
Whatever that plan is, maybe it won’t work out in the end. It’s a stretch at the moment to believe he’s made the Giants better. But a closer look at the individual moves he’s made this offseason show his approach to rebuilding the Giants hasn’t been all that bad:
The Beckham trade
It’s hard to “win” a deal that involves trading a talent like Beckham, but the Giants view it as addition by subtraction given his penchant for off-field distractions. In return, they received a first-round pick (17), a third-round pick (95), swapped a fifth-rounder for a fourth-rounder and acquired safety Jabrill Peppers. Compared to almost every other trade for a top receiver, that’s an impressive haul. The Giants now have three picks in the top 37 and four in the top 100, and the 23-year-old Peppers is a budding star who can replace the departed Landon Collins. The best part of this trade went to the Browns, by far, but the overall deal was fair. Grade: B-minus.
The Olivier Vernon trade
The Giants were going to cut Vernon in a salary cap move, but they got the Browns to take him in return for G Kevin Zeitler, whom the Browns were probably going to cut. The Giants also flipped a fourth-round pick for a fifth-rounder, though they later flipped those back when the Vernon and Beckham trades were combined. The Giants desperately needed offensive line help, and getting something for an expendable player is always good. But it left the Giants with a huge pass-rushing hole. Grade: B.
Not using the franchise tag on Landon Collins
They had a respected and popular player who loved being in New York, was only 25 and was one of the best safeties in the NFL. And they let him go instead of paying him $11.15 million? They obviously wanted to use that money elsewhere, but cap room can always be found, so that’s never a good excuse. Collins had value, though maybe not the crazy value the Redskins put on him ($84 million over six years with $45 million guaranteed). The Giants replaced him with Peppers and that’s good, but at the time this move was a head-scratcher. Grade: C-minus.
Signing WR Golden Tate
Beckham’s replacement is a very underrated, extremely productive receiver who will be a huge addition to the Giants’ offense. The cost — four years, $37.5 million, $23 million guaranteed — was high, but it always is in free agency. Tate’s age (30) is a mild concern. But with Beckham gone, the Giants desperately needed receiving help, and Tate was the best one on the market. The Giants did a good job to make an aggressive move. Grade: A-minus.
Signing edge rusher Markus Golden
This is a good, low-risk, high-reward pickup. The 28-year-old is coming off a torn ACL and gets a one-year, prove-it deal to rejoin defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who helped him to a 12 ½-sack season two years ago. His health and ability to regain his old form are an open question, but he’s worth a flier. Grade: B.
Signing S Antoine Bethea
He’s turning 35 in July, so counting on him as a starter is risky. He has been durable, though, and is coming off a good season in Arizona. He can be a leader in the locker room and help everyone with Bettcher’s defense, since he played under him in Arizona too. How good a move this is depends on when his inevitable decline begins. Grade: C-plus.
Re-signing C Spencer Pulley
Maybe the Giants could have used an upgrade at center, but the combination of Pulley and Jon Halapio, who also will be back if he’s healthy, were decent last season. And a key to fixing an offensive line is continuity. The Giants will already be changing at right guard and right tackle. There was no need to change at center, too. Grade: B-minus.
The big picture isn’t kind to Gettleman … yet. He let his best pass-rusher, a play-making safety and an all-world receiver go in return for a guard, a lesser safety, a few draft picks and some cap room. Then he used that cap room on a 30-year-old receiver and an edge-rusher coming off a torn ACL. No wonder so many fans are scratching their heads (if not banging them into the wall).
Now, the Giants think the offense will be better with a rebuilt offensive line. They believe some of their own young players can pick up the slack on defense. And they’re quick to remind that they now have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, including two first-rounders, three picks in the top 37 and four in the top 95. So their work is hardly finished, and a couple of rookie starters are likely on the way. When that happens, maybe everyone will feel better about this offseason. Until then, even though some of the individual moves were good ones, the overall look isn’t good. Grade: C.