By Michael Stewart
The New York Giants, newly appointed General Manager Dave Gettlemen and the new Head Coach will have a very busy off season and big decisions to make to turn the Giants around and back into a playoff contender. I have put together my top 5 topics that should be on their to do list this off season to get the Giants pointed in the right direction:
- Fix the offensive Line: Gettleman has already made reference that he plans to address arguably the Giants weakest link; the offensive line. He will have to make a decision on four main offensive linemen who will be free agents this off season and they are Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Brett Jones and D.J Fluker. In my opinion this list should only have two offensive linemen Gettleman needs to make a decision on; as I would re-sign both Brett Jones and D.J Fluker immediately. Jones should be awarded as he has played very well as a replacement for Weston Richburg and the same can be said of D.J Fluker before his injuries. Jones can be brought back on a 1 or 2 year deal well under $1M per year and D.J Fluker on a 3 year deal roughly for $10M. That leaves Richburg and Pugh and this is where Gettleman will earn his money. Bringing back Pugh will be costly and risky based on his current history of injuries. If Pugh is deemed healthy, I can see the Giants placing the franchise tag on him; which should be around $12-14M and worry about a possible extension after the 2018 season. Richburg has had two straight disappointing seasons for the Giants and if Pugh is re-signed (franchise tag), hard to believe Richburg will be back. Another possibility is that Gettleman could cut the ties with both and start fresh. Also releasing John Jerry could be a possibility as well to free up more cap space.
- Move Engram to wide receiver: Engram should move to WR and replace Brandon Marshall, who Gettleman should release. Moving from TE to WR has been done before and most recently by the Carolina Panthers with Devin Funchess. Officially making Engram a WR wouldn’t change the way they would use him in their offense and it would give the Giants more of a traditional TE back into the fold.
- Make a decision on Manning/either mend it or end it: Keeping Manning (if Manning wants to stay) would give the Giants a chance to be competitive in 2018, while his successor can learn and be groomed for possibly 2019. However; if Manning wants out and waives his no trade clause; then Gettleman needs to find a suitor and get the most he can for Manning.
- Have a solid draft: This draft will be vital for the Giants and Gettleman as it will be his 1st as the new GM for the Giants; Having the 2nd overall pick could give Gettleman options to either move back in the 1st round (for additional picks) or select the player they want. I’m still not sold on the fact the Giants will draft a QB in the 1st round or at least stay put on #2. This team needs to add depth and talent to a roster that former GM Jerry Reese failed to do. Perhaps trading back might be the only way to accomplish that.
- Make a decision on Eli Apple: Gettleman will have three options here with Eli Apple and he would most likely need to make a decision once free agency begins.
- Trade Him: Apple’s value is down due to his suspension and being labeled a “cancer” by his teammates. However; at 22 years old and playing a position that is highly sort after by every NFL team, time could lessen the bad PR on Apple and perhaps his value could rise a bit.
- Cut Him: Gettleman could cut Apple but it could cost the Giants a pretty penny ($4.3M guaranteed Salary for the next two seasons) and also $4.6M in pro-rated bonus money as well. Also cutting him would add $2.5M to their books as his cap hit would go up to $6.6M. So unless there are stipulations in the contract based on conduct, they Giants may not be able to consider this option.
- Give him a second chance: They say time heals all wounds and this could certainly apply to the Apple/Collins rift. Dave Gettleman will speak with Eli Apple and see what is going on inside the young CB head and also speak with other players as well; including Collins. Once the dust settles, Gettleman will be able to have a clearer picture and make a decision on this.
Final Thoughts: Not only does Gettleman need to consider this year’s free agents on the roster, but he must make sure there’s enough cap space the following season as Landon Collins and Odell Beckham Jr. will be free agents as well. There’s no doubt that this off season will be a very busy and most important one for Gettleman and the Giants. If he pushes the right buttons, it will set the stage of the rebuilding process for this organization in the right direction. If not, then we will be reliving the New York Giants of the 1970”s.