EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — General manager Dave Gettleman doesn’t want to tell you jack. He insists there is a plan, even if he refuses to share the details. It’s an interesting approach to stiff-arm the fan base, but all that will matter in the end is if he gets it right. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if there is a clear direction that the New York Giants can stick to as they try to repair their football team.
The early results in the 15 months since Gettleman was hired have not been encouraging. The Giants signed Odell Beckham Jr., then traded him seven months later after paying him $21.5 million and taking on $16 million in dead money. They traded for Alec Ogletree; signed Nate Solder, Jonathan Stewart and William Gay (remember him, $720,000 down the drain); and drafted running back Saquon Barkley in an effort to get on track sooner than later.
Here’s what to know:
• Live tracker: Every notable deal »
• Barnwell’s grades: Tracking big moves »
• Winners and losers from free agency »
• Picking underrated, overrated signings »
• Ranking the top 100 NFL free agents »
More coverage » | Back to NFL »
That plan has since been vacated after last season’s 5-11 record, but on Monday the Giants quadrupled down on quarterback Eli Manning after internally conceding it was probably the end midway through last season. They appear to be in the minority around the league on it being a “crock” that Manning is overpaid and unable to perform consistently at a high level. They also signed soon-to-be 31-year-old Golden Tate and 34-year-old safety Antoine Bethea as two of their bigger free-agent moves. Not exactly your traditional rebuild.
The Giants, to be frank, seem to be all over the map these days. It looks as if a 5-year-old who can’t see over the steering wheel is driving this franchise.
The problem isn’t the current plan. Reasonable minds can see that accumulating draft picks — the Giants are tied for the most with 12 this year — and eventually finding a franchise quarterback in this draft or next with gobs of salary-cap space available next offseason has them in a reasonable place. What’s unknown is whether Gettleman and ownership can take those resources and assets and mold them into something special.
If you’re working on mostly blind faith given the recent results, buy away.
“Trust me, we’ve got a plan,” Gettleman said Monday, right after explaining how it wasn’t his responsibility to provide the media and, effectively, the fans any details.
What Gettleman did reveal is that he didn’t shop around for a better offer before ultimately trading Beckham to the Cleveland Browns. He merely made a courtesy call to his friend and former colleague Brandon Beane in Buffalo to see if the Bills were interested.
Gettleman’s explanation on this strategy was mind-numbing, perhaps even professionally negligent.
“When it comes to trading, the team that makes the call … is playing from behind. You’re in a much better position of strength when teams call you. You’re in a much better position. Because I wasn’t doing that — we’re not trading Odell, understand what I’m saying? That’s really why it worked out the way it worked out. It wasn’t something we had to do, and someone was going to have to knock it out of the park.”
Consider me confused. It’s just bad business, right alongside signing Beckham and trading him one year later with serious financial implications. What exactly would have been the downside of Gettleman calling teams to ask if they wanted to put forth their best offer, which would need to include at least two first-round picks?
That is what the Giants view themselves as having received from the Browns in the No. 17 overall selection in this year’s draft and safety Jabrill Peppers. They assess Peppers’ value — right or wrong — as a first-round pick.
“We got two ones and a three, one of them being a player,” Gettleman said.
It’s clear the Giants hold Peppers in high regard. They insisted he be included in the deal. Ultimately that and what they do moving forward with the available resources will dictate whether Gettleman’s tenure is a success and the Giants escape from this seemingly inextricable typhoon of losing.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter also revealed on his podcast that he knows the Giants were offered more than the Browns ultimately paid for Beckham. Again, doesn’t seem like optimal business practices.
The scary thing is that it’s not the first time Gettleman failed to maximize value. He boasted last year that he told everyone in the draft room not to pick up the phone when the Giants were on the clock with the No. 2 overall pick. What if a QB-needy team had wanted to trade three first-rounders for that spot? Nope.
Considering the Green Bay Packers received a fourth-round pick for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at last year’s trade deadline, it’s also fair to ponder whether Gettleman could have received more had he really shopped safety Landon Collins at the time. It appears the Giants shifted their plan midstream on that decision as well, and now Collins is in Washington after signing a megadeal as a free agent and the Giants are at the mercy of the mysterious compensation pick formula.
This all leaves reasonable doubt about whether Gettleman and the Giants can get this right. There is a lot of work to be done. The hope rests on Gettleman’s long history working in pro personnel and the way he supplemented the building blocks in Carolina to make the Panthers a Super Bowl contender after he became general manager.
Of course, he was handed a franchise quarterback there upon arrival. His biggest challenge with the Giants will be finding the successor to Manning.
All these problems plaguing the Giants are nothing that a true franchise quarterback can’t fix. If Gettleman can get that right, it all should work out.