New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman isn’t afraid of a little wheeling and dealing, which was evident by the four trades he pulled the trigger on in his first season with the team.
However, an argument could be made that each of those trades had a negative impact when reflecting upon them now, which is the exact conclusion ESPN’s Bill Barnwell reached when grading the 30 most impactful trades of 2018.
Although it didn’t yield them a high grade, the one trade Barnwell feels the Giants won was the acquisition of linebacker Alec Ogletree from the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams.
29. Giants get linebacker help
Rams trade: LB Alec Ogletree, 2019 seventh-round pick
Giants trade: 4-135, 6-176
The Rams helped make space for their offseason acquisitions by trading Ogletree to the Giants, who have needed help at inside linebacker seemingly since Antonio Pierce left after the 2009 season. The Georgia product didn’t dramatically propel the Giants’ defense forward — it ranked 24th in defensive DVOA for the second consecutive season — but he did rack up two short pick-sixes, which is fun.
Impact grade: D+
From here forward, Barnwell feels the Giants headed downhill, beginning with the trade of defensive tackle Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions — a trade that opened a gaping hole in the middle of their defensive line for the remainder of the season.
14. Lions get a snack
Giants trade: DT Damon Harrison
Lions trade: 2019 fifth-round pick
When you acquire “Snacks” Harrison, you know what you’re getting: a dominant anchor for your run defense. Before acquiring Harrison, the Lions were allowing opposing teams to average 5.3 yards per carry and convert 25.5 percent of their runs into first downs. After getting Snacks away from the Giants, though, Matt Patricia’s defense allowed just 3.0 yards per carry and first downs just 15.4 percent of the time while Harrison was on the field. The 30-year-old tackle even chipped in with 3.5 sacks and seven knockdowns. He was everything the Lions could have hoped for when they made this trade, although the upgrade didn’t do much on the whole for a dismal defense.
Impact grade: B-
While the Lions won the Snacks trade, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also arguably beat the Giants in a trade that sent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to his home state of Florida. Barnwell saw it the same way.
10. Buccaneers finally get a productive edge rusher
Giants trade: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, 4-102
Buccaneers trade: 3-69, 4-108
Tampa didn’t do much of anything right on defense in 2018, but the trade for JPP netted the Bucs their best single season from an edge rusher in more than a decade. Pierre-Paul finished with 12.5 sacks, becoming the first Buccaneers defender to top 10 sacks in a season since Simeon Rice in 2005. The 30-year-old hadn’t topped the 10-sack mark himself since the 2014 campaign. He also chipped in with 16 tackles for loss, and while the Bucs’ defense was a horrific mess, Pierre-Paul wasn’t to blame.
Impact grade: B
Finally, there was the trade that sent cornerback Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints — a trade that drew much debate initially and then again when Apple began to play well. It worked out for the Saints, but given the situation Apple found himself in with the Giants, did they really lose by shipping him off?
8. Another Giants defender goes to the NFC South and excels
Saints trade: 2019 fourth-round pick, 2020 seventh-round pick
Giants trade: CB Eli Apple
It’s no surprise that the Giants moved on from their former first-round pick, as Apple fell out of favor during a disastrous 2017 season and wasn’t drafted by the current regime. What was surprising, instead, is that Apple went to the Saints and almost immediately upgraded the weakest point in their starting lineup by taking over for Ken Crawley at cornerback.
The Saints allowed a passer rating of 92.7 with Apple on the field, a mark that fell to 111.5 when Apple was on the sidelines. In a league in which cheap starting cornerbacks are nearly impossible to find, the Saints have the 23-year-old Apple under contract for two more seasons on his rookie deal.
Impact grade: B+
So, there it is in a nutshell. The Giants did well in the Ogletree trade despite some of the analytics suggesting otherwise, but the other three are legitimately up for debate. The Buccaneers, Lions and Saints all got noticeably better with the addition of the former Giants, while Big Blue cleared some cap space and stocked up on some draft picks.
One could argue both sides of the coin on this, but how do you feel about Barnwell’s list and the trade Gettleman man, Giants fans?