New York Giants: Player evaluations begin right now
By Curt Macysyn
Largely the team’s final 2017 NFL contest will be a glorified exhibition game against the Washington Redskins.
This summer, surely most New York Giants thought that this NFC East contest would mean something. And no one could imagine the complete and total disarray that the season devolved into. Yet here we are watching the worst team the G-Men have ever fielded in their long and storied history.
Right now, watching games has become a painful endeavor for the fans, players and coaches. In this season of giving, let’s also give some empathy to owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. We sincerely hope that Mara and Tisch can bring in a general manger, who can begin quickly to get this endeavor back on track.
In terms of the current roster, including players on injured reserve, there are 71 men on the team. This does not count practice squad players. Let’s face it, the road back to the playoffs does not depend on what practice squad players come back. That type of small-minded thinking got the New York Giants into this pickle.
Resign yourself to the fact that some players will be back, while many others will not. Would it be surprising to see 15 to 20 new faces on the team next season?
Most importantly, let’s take a look at who should be the holdovers:
New York Giants: 800 lb. gorilla
At quarterback, a decision will have to be made on Eli Manning. His current trade value couldn’t be lower though. The New York Giants should not release him, as he obviously has value. Conversely, keeping soon-to-be free agent Geno Smith serves absolutely no purpose. A training camp arm signing is fine.
Unlike the Ben McAdoo camp, snaps for Davis Webb are critical, and the team could also draft a quarterback obviously. It’s the most critical decision the front office has to make. One that will impact the roster for several years.
Drafting a quarterback without upgrading the offensive line means that Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold sits through the entire 2018 campaign. Because Manning has gotten used to operating behind a porous unit means that he stays as a placeholder and tackling dummy.
With that in mind, Manning ought to think long and hard about what he signs up for in 2018 and 2019.
If the Jacksonville Jaguars end up a one-and-done playoff team, a Tom Coughlin reunion could be likely. The Denver Broncos also seem like a potential destination point, but so much will depend upon where Kirk Cousins ends up. Another potential landing spot could be Buffalo.
Keeping Manning and Webb, while drafting a Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen seem to be the worst of all worlds, especially without corresponding moves along the offensive line. This continues to be a very complicated issue, and one that was bungled by the previous administration. If nothing else, the new GM needs to be decisive. Playing cute like Jerry Reese did with Jason Pierre-Paul benefits no one.
New York Giants: Injured Reserve
Of the 18 players currently residing on the injured reserve list, it’s safe to say that the vast majority won’t be back. With the emergence of Brett Jones at center, Weston Richburg probably leaves in free agency. Given the state of the team, and the offensive line, it makes sense to try to sway lineman Justin Pugh back.
That task may or may not prove successful.
Must Read: New York Giants: Wrapping our heads around future draft decisions
Former free agents signees like Dwayne Harris, Jonathan Casillas, Brandon Marshall, Keenan Robinson and D.J. Fluker should not return. That means cutting Marshall and Harris. In fact there are only two sure IR returnees – Odell Beckham and Janoris Jenkins. Although some will make the case to cut Jenkins, when healthy, he’s a functioning part of the defense.
Project players like Curtis Grant (LB), Darius Powe (WR), Deontae Skinner (LB) and Ishaq Williams (DE) could be signed to futures contracts. Arguing whether or not they should return continues to be a fool’s errand – given the state of the overall roster right now.
Special teamer Mark Herzlich may retire.
New York Giants: Offensive Thinking
On the offensive line, restricted free agent center Brett Jones should be retained, as should guard John Jerry. Some New York Giants fans will want to cut Jerry, but hopefully he provides depth in 2018. Come hell or high water, there should be a new left tackle in New York next season. Ereck Flowers, still under contract, will compete for the right tackle spot. Let’s pray that he only provides depth next season.
Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty should both return to see if adequate development has taken place. The top priority here remains left tackle. Drafting a quarterback without solving the left tackle dilemma should concern everyone.
Say good-night to the Shane Vereen experiment at running back. Hopefully the next general manager will never consider overpaying for role players again. The other running backs – Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman – should return. That will require Darkwa to be re-signed as a free agent.
Additional help will be needed here, and speed should be made a priority. A player who can also help in the return game moves the needle too.
Next season, Beckham and Sterling Shepard are the only sure shots at wide receiver. Holdover Roger Lewis should be cut, but he may be invited to camp. A low-cost veteran presence should be brought into the mix. Even Engram and Rhett Ellison stay as tight ends. The Giants won’t win or lose the division if they decide to keep or cut Jerell Adams. Do what makes sense.
New York Giants: Acting Defensively
Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon will be back. Do the G-Men re-sign Kerry Wynn? Defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson was New York’s best value draft pick this year, he should be the draft model moving forward. All-Pro snub Damon Harrison should sue for non-support from the fans. Overall, the defensive line is in decent shape. Interior defender Jay Bromley seems to be a take it or leave it proposition as a free agent. He could be brought back on a reasonable contract.
Linebacker remains a mess. Is B.J. Goodson injury prone? We will have 2018 in order to find out. Free agent Calvin Munson stays but only in a role player mode. Is Devon Kennard worth keeping? That seems to be highly debatable. Based upon his audition, Ray-Ray Armstrong should be offered a 2018 contract. Depth should be bolstered at LB, especially because relying on a full season from Goodson appears to be a case of inviting a problem.
The biggest decision on defense will be the contract of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC has a cap hit of $8.5 million next season. That’s thanks to Jerry Reese’s singular trick (that’s kind) of back loading contracts. It comes with $2 million in dead money if Rodgers-Cromartie is cut.
If Eli Apple began to develop, then this decision would be easier. One could imagine that Apple could become a purpose cut this offseason. His antics and immaturity have become a distraction. The last thing a new coach and general manager need is a unnecessary distraction.
At safety, Landon Collins stays obviously, but Darian Thompson’s starting position should be precarious. Maybe Andrew Adams gets a shot at the starter’s role, and the Nat Berhe experiment has run its course. The Giants should try to bring back free agent cornerback Ross Cockrell, but that may not be easy.
New York Giants: Change isn’t easy
Moving ahead, and not to muddy the waters here, but the New York Giants should be on the look-out for a new place kicker and punter in 2018. Both punter Brad Wing and kicker Aldrick Rosas were significant pieces to the debacle that was the 2017 season. Obviously, the new general manager will have some heavy lifting once in place. Hopefully he can surround himself with a great team to bring in change to an organization that has gotten too comfortable.
Hopefully, adults can regain control of the franchise. It will be a breath of fresh air after the thinned skinned era of McAdoo and Reese.