When it comes to accessing the team, Dave Gettleman believes it is appropriate the head coach talks in public during the season and the offseason belongs to the front office. This is why the general manager did not meet on-the-record with the media throughout his first year back with the Giants. He left it to Pat Shurmur, day after day, week after week. The season is now over and done with, and Gettleman on Wednesday will finally offer his take on what went down as the Giants went 5-11.
Rising above all else is what Gettleman plans to do at quarterback, with Shurmur’s strong endorsements of Eli Manning likely carrying much weight. This is all-new for Gettleman, facing uncertainty at the most important position on the roster. When he embarked on his NFL career as a scout with the Bills, he had Jim Kelly. With the Broncos, he had John Elway. In his first tenure with the Giants, he had Kerry Collins and then Manning. When he went to run the show in Carolina, Cam Newton was already there.
It is believed nothing Gettleman saw in 2018 will convince him Manning is shot, that Gettleman still has high regard for Manning’s arm strength and decision-making and that when protected, he can get the job done. Given the dearth of high-end quarterback prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, plus Gettleman’s longstanding stance on improving the offensive and defensive lines before anything else, it is unlikely the Giants will see the No. 6 overall pick as the spot to take a quarterback, with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins likely atop most draft boards at the position but not rated as high as the sixth spot.
There is much for Gettleman to discuss, even though it is unlikely he will reveal any definitive plans. He will engage in detailed conversations with his staff and Shurmur before any decisions are made. Here are five issues to discuss:
The Book of Eli
Gettleman said he reviewed every snap Manning took in 2017 and determined the 37-year old had plenty left in the tank. Manning turns 38 on Thursday and is coming
off a season in which he completed a career-high 66 percent of his passes and, for the seventh time in his 15 years, threw for more than 4,000 yards. He threw only 11 interceptions and his passer rating of 92.4 was the fourth-highest of his career. Yet his touchdown production (21 passing, one rushing) was nothing special and his team again lost more than 10 games. What does Gettleman think Manning has left to offer?
Free agent sigh-ings
Gettleman in free agency brought in running back Jonathan Stewart, guard Patrick Omameh, outside linebacker Kareem Martin, defensive end Josh Mauro and pass-rusher Connor Barwin. The results were not good. Gettleman also signed off on keeping offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, who was benched after two games and mercifully released. Keeping Flowers and adding Omameh proved to be a disaster on the right side of the line. These are big misses Gettleman must address.
Gettleman did not envision Damon “Snacks” Harrison being on the team in 2019 and traded him to the Lions for only a fifth-round draft pick. That is not much for a premier run-stopper, but Gettleman decided the cost savings was worth it. Up next there are decisions to be made on linebacker Olivier Vernon (set to count $19.5 million on the salary cap) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (set to count $14.75 on the cap).
The Big Ticket
Gettleman made Nate Solder the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman with a four-year, $62 million contract, a deal instantly labeled around the league as excessive, given Solder never made a Pro Bowl in his seven years with the Patriots. Solder did not miss a thing at left tackle, on the field for all 1,027 offensive snaps, and battled through knee and ankle issues early in the season. He was a solid locker-room leader and extremely helpful to rookie left guard Will Hernandez, the only other player on the team to play 100 percent of the snaps. Solder is a good player but not a great one, despite his price tag. He will count $17 million on the 2019 salary cap. Is he worth the investment?
Gettleman knew he faced a massive rebuilding job — he never fully disclosed how weak he viewed the situation he inherited — but did believe his first Giants team could contend for the playoffs amid the roster upheaval. That did not happen. Does Gettleman see this as a two- or three-year project or more of a quick fix?