By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
What and Who the Giants Need in 2019
The 2019 offseason could be one of the most important offseason for GM Dave Gettleman in only his second year as the Giants GM. Gettleman’s last offseason moves were marginal in terms of free agent signings; however; Gettleman graded high when it came to the 2018 draft.
The Giants started planning for 2019 by week 8 of the 2018 season by trading away cornerback Eli Apple and defensive tackle Damon Harrison. More changes are expected to come. Gettleman can go in many directions to improve this team, so here are my top 6 positions I believe the Giants need to address this offseason (order of importance)
Defensive End (Edge Rusher): The Giants were the second worse team in the league in sacks with only 30 (Raiders had 13 sacks). One reason could be the underperformance of OLB Olivier Vernon. Another factor was that the Giants just didn’t have depth and or talent in that department. This has to change and one of the first moves Gettleman should do is to re-sign Kerry Wynn and at the right price. Wynn not only adds depth but also talent in both pressuring the quarterback and against the run as a rotational player.
One dilemma facing Gettleman will be what he will do with Olivier Vernon in 2019. Vernon is arguably the Giants best pass rusher, but his $19.5M cap hit is too much to swallow. The Giants might be forced to either release him or trade him after June 1st to save the most on dead money ($4M) and get the most in cap relief ($15.5M). If the Giants do find a new home for him, they must find a replacement. The in-house solution would be Lorenzo Carter, but the Giants don’t seem to feel Carter is ready to take that big of a step in 2019. That leaves a possible trade option, but more than likely free agency. There are a few names that jump out at you such as: Ezekiel Ansah (Lions) and DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys). These two would cost the same or possibly more than Vernon. The next tiers of edge rushers are: Dante Fowler Jr. (Rams), Frank Clark (Seahawks) and Trey Flowers (Patriots) would all be a consideration at a lower cost than Vernon. However; the Rams, Seahawks and Patriots respectfully will have a say on where they end up.
Cornerback: The Giants will likely release or trade Janoris Jenkins in the offseason, but it would need to be after June 1st to receive the most cap space ($11.25M) and least dead money possible ($4M). If this is the plan, the Giants can’t go into the 2019 season with two inexperienced cornerback’s. Look for them to explore free agency for a veteran cornerback perhaps a one year deal to bridge the gap until any of the younger cornerbacks are ready to contribute more. Supplemental pick Sam Beal is expected to be fully healthy and compete for a corner spot with Grant Haley. Look for Gettleman to use the draft to add more depth at the cornerback position as it wouldn’t surprise me to see him use at least two of his picks at the cornerback position.
Offensive Line: The line was a mess, so this has to be addressed this offseason. Nate Solder struggled in the first half of the season, but rebounded well in the second half allowing just one sack. Offensive guard Will Hernandez will retain his spot at left guard and looks like the real deal. The arrival of Jamon Brown (waivers) from the Los Angeles Rams really help improve the right side of the line at right guard in the second half and unless his demands are outrageous to expect Gettleman to re-sign him.
This would leave the center and right tackle positions needing a drastic overhaul. Spencer Pulley was serviceable, but there are better options available in free agency such as Matt Paradis of the Broncos and Mitch Morse of the Chiefs. Right Tackle Chad Wheeler really struggled and by all indications; is not the answer for the Giants long-term. Look for Gettleman to explore free agency for his next right tackle and two names that should be on the top of his list are Daryl Williams of the Panthers and Ja’Wuan James of the Dolphins.
Defensive Tackle: When the Giants traded Damon Harrison in mid-season to the Detroit Lions their run defense dramatically suffered. Dalvon Tomlinson wasn’t able to handle the responsibility after taking over for Harrison; so the Giants need to address this area. Free agency has a few options with Haloti Ngata (Eagles), Johnathan Hankins (Oakland) and Rodney Gunter (Cardinals) are all solid run stuffers and if the Giants are looking for a short-term (1 year), these three would be good fits. However; if Gettleman is looking for long-term solutions at Defensive Tackle then his first option should be Grady Jarrett (Falcons). Jarrett would probably demand around $12-$15M per year. Another option could be Ndamukong Suh who is still productive at age 32 and would probably demand a salary of around $9-10M. Even if Gettleman goes the free agent route for a defensive tackle, I expect him to also use a pick in the draft for one.
Quarterback: I acknowledge that the Giants do need to find a successor for Eli Manning, despite his overall performance in 2018 was his best in the last five seasons. With that being said, I’m not so sure that it would make sense for them to draft a quarterback in the 1st round with the 6th overall pick. Ohio States Dwayne Haskins is probably on 99% of the mock drafts floating around the internet, but historically; Gettleman has never taken a player in the top 10 that he didn’t consider a sure bet. Haskins only has one full season under his belt and coming out of Ohio State could be an issue as many former quarterbacks coming out of Ohio State haven’t done well in the NFL. Another factor to consider is that this year’s draft is loaded with defensive talent; especially along the defensive line and passing up on a talent that could make an immediate impact on the defensive side in 2019 like Saquon Barkley did in 2018 on the offensive side; might be too hard to pass up.
Safety: Landon Collins earned another invite to the Pro Bowl despite missing the latter part of the season with an injury. Collins will be a free agent in the offseason and based on all reports, the Giants will most likely place the franchise tag on him. However; the decision to release Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson in favor of Curtis Riley has backfired. Riley struggled throughout the season and was ranked near the bottom among safeties in the NFL. The final straw that broke the camels’ back for Riley could be his lack of effort in the final game against the Cowboys when he appeared to have given up on the play and allowed tight end Blake Jarwin to go untouched for a touchdown. The Giants do have a couple of options on their current roster in Michael Thomas and Sean Chandler.
Final Thoughts: Dave Gettleman will have enough picks (possibly 11 after compensation) and that could increase if he’s able to trade away some players as well. If Gettleman is successful in adding more picks through trades, then I expect him to be one the more active GM’s prior and possibly on draft day. I project him the bundle a package of picks either for a current player in the NFL or to trade up in the draft to target a certain prospect. This draft could be one of the most entertaining drafts in Giants history and hopefully, Gettleman will out do his 2018 draft results.