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Release Candidate: Alec Ogletree

Giants GM Dave Gettleman is entering a make-or-break offseason. While plenty of fans were clamoring for his ouster at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, team ownership elected to give him another shot to right the ship, but if Big Blue should disappoint again in 2020, Gettleman will almost certainly be gone.

So he needs to tread carefully when navigating free agency and the draft and in determining which players to jettison from the roster. LB Alec Ogletree, whom Gettleman acquired via trade with the Rams in 2018, presents an interesting case study in that regard.

Ogletree, a former first-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in 2013, has never been an advanced metrics darling. But he has been a full-time starter throughout his first seven years in the league, and he has even been something of a playmaker, accumulating 12 interceptions and four pick-sixes in his career. He typically plays all or almost all of his team’s defensive snaps, and in the years in which he has played a full 16-game slate, he has recorded well over 100 tackles.

On the other hand, the only Ogletree team that has qualified for the postseason was the 2017 Rams, so perhaps Ogletree’s playing time and the raw numbers that go along with that are attributable at least in part to the fact that he hasn’t played on particularly good clubs. He has never made the Pro Bowl and has not quite lived up to his status as a first-round pick, which suggests that the Giants could part ways with him this offseason and save $8.25MM against the cap in the process.

That savings must look tempting to Gettleman, but keeping the Georgia product also has its merits. Although the Giants do not lead the league in cap space, their $61MM of estimated room is nothing to sneeze at, so the financial benefits of releasing Ogletree are not as critical as they might otherwise be. And the team’s defense is young and will be learning a new scheme under DC Patrick Graham, so Ogletree’s experience and leadership could be a boon to Graham’s unit. Plus, Gettleman has never been one to put much stock in advanced metrics, so the fact that Ogletree doesn’t score highly in that department probably doesn’t bother him too much (though he did dangle Ogletree in trade talks in advance of the 2019 deadline).

Ralph Vacchiano of recently suggested that a pay cut may be in the cards, and it’s easy to see why. Ogletree is certainly not worth the $10MM he is due to make in base salary in 2020, and he would not fetch that much on the open market. A reduction, though, may still pay him more than he would earn as a free agent, it would give him a shot at staying with the Giants in 2021 and earning the $9MM that he is due for that season, and the Giants would get a little more cap flexibility.

That sounds like a win-win for both sides, but if Ogletree doesn’t agree to a pay cut, either on principle or because he might want an opportunity to catch on with a team that gives him a better chance at a title, he could be playing elsewhere in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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