Is it me, or has new general manager Dave Gettleman become the anti-Jerry Reese?
During Reese’s tenure as New York Giants general manager, there always seemed to be a move or three that could have been made. Many times, these transactions could have been a simple, common-sense signing to bolster a position. Typically, the Giants stayed the course and counted on development of Reese’s draft picks or bargain basement signings.
Or how about it when Reese and company actually ignored a positional need? For more than a few seasons, the cupboard was bare at linebacker and tight end. Since the Josh Brown situation, the kicking game has been a hodge-podge effort.
Let’s face it, in this day and age, there are no perfect NFL teams. Due to free agency and the salary cap, we will no longer see a repeat of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers. Remember, the Steel Curtain defense seemingly had a Pro Bowler at every position. The Steelers back-ups could have been starters on many NFL teams. Today, the NFL salary cap limits the number of star player each roster can hold.
In the “new” NFL, teams attempt to build positional strength, but seemingly can’t cover every area of the roster. That’s why New York Giants fans have to appreciate what Dave Gettleman is doing. He’s at least making a solid attempt to create a balanced and productive roster.
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Nothing symbolizes that effort more than this week’s signing of edge rusher Connor Barwin. Subject to debate, but Big Blue’s pass-rush was likely the team’s weakest link. Say what you want about ex-New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, clearly he would have helped in this area.
Instead, Gettleman found a taker for JPP’s contract, and financially, it’s understandable why a deal was made with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yet unlike Reese, Gettleman didn’t leave a big hole in the wall. He spackled it over with the signing of Barwin.
From all accounts, Barwin provides a solid locker room presence. That’s a bonus if it comes packaged with on-field production. Over the years, he has been described as an outside linebacker/defensive end. In reality, that means he’s a perfect fit for defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme.
A few weeks back, I opined about where the sacks will come from this season. We now have at least part of the answer. Barwin represents that edge rusher that the New York Giants desperately needed. In previous years, everyone would have been handed a line about the improvement of Avery Moss and the potential of rookie Lorenzo Carter. Usually, no one ever addressed what happened when these guys didn’t improve or pan out.
Typically, Reese bristled at this line of questioning.
And far too often the Giants put too much faith in lower round picks to play like first-round selections. This was recently true of linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Darian Thompson. These players never were given adequate time to develop, instead they were thrust into starting and leadership roles immediately.
I’m all about getting high draft picks (1st and 2nd round) in the line-up as soon as possible. Beyond that, teams are lucky to get production out of lower draft picks right away, especially early in their rookie campaign. Certainly it happens, but that’s the exception.
That’s why bringing in a veteran like Barwin makes so much sense.
Durable and dependable
Last season, Barwin broke a string of six consecutive years that he played in all 16 regular season games. Even so, he played in 14 of 16 games for the Los Angeles Rams. Barwin finished with five quarterback sacks, according to Pro Football Reference.
Previously, his high water mark was 14.5 sacks with the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles, but don’t expect a repeat. This season, his production is likely to fall somewhere between five and 14.5 sacks. Even so, it’s just what the New York Giants need.
As far as others in the rotation, time to put up or shut up for Avery Moss. Moss will likely be a rotational piece until Josh Mauro’s PED suspension gets lifted. His opportunity will be there, whether or not Moss knocks down the door is simply speculation. But he shouldn’t count on the draft pick safety net that Reese employed.
In getting Barwin in the fold, Gettleman offered a two-year deal, something Reese really didn’t consider. Mostly, the Reese playbook consisted of massive free agent deals, or one-year scrap heap contracts.
A deal like Barwin’s was rarely on the table.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Barwin deal is for two-years and $5 million. This has not yet been confirmed on any of the salary cap evaluation websites. At any rate, let’s compare the production of JPP and Barwin at season’s end and see who got more bang for the buck. Perhaps in this case, Gettleman can have his cake and eat it too.