Leonard Williams trade highlights Dave Gettleman’s biggest flaws

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 06: Leonard Williams #92 of the New York Jets fixes his hair prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 6, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 06: Leonard Williams #92 of the New York Jets fixes his hair prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 6, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

New York Giants General Manager, Dave Gettleman, has once again made a move that defies rational logic, while also contradicting the general idea of rebuilding, when he acquired Leonard Williams on Monday.

It’s no secret that I’ve been as tough on Dave Gettleman as anyone. For those that don’t know me well, I assure you that I have no narrative I’m looking to fill – there are few people that want the New York Giants to win as badly as I do, and I don’t care who is calling the shots to make that happen. I just can’t see how acquiring impeding free agent, Leonard Williams, in the midst of a lost season, gets us any closer to winning, though.

However, as I’ve said time and time again, I cannot support malpractice, which is the one word I would use to summarize Gettleman’s disappointing tenure as GM so far. During his time on the job, I’ve criticized him for three main things -a startling misunderstanding of positional value, a lack of general awareness in terms of timing on moves, and not having a concrete plan that is adhered to at all costs — this move is the epitome of all three of those things.

After sitting back and watching his mediocre football team add another loss to it’s pitiful 2-6 record, one would think the last thing Gettleman would be thinking about would be how to make this team better for a potential stretch run. While defenders of this move will point to the fact that the Giants are now afforded the luxury of having the rights to negotiate with the under-performing Williams, there are very few players in the league that are worth giving up legitimate draft capital for the right to negotiate with — Leonard Williams ain’t one of em’.

Most rational people would have been thinking of ways to expand upon the minimal draft assets that Big Blue has going forward (going into the trade, the Giants had only one additional pick outside of their own that was better than a seventh-rounder) – instead, Gettleman figured out a way to give up assets in a lost season. I don’t care about any potential capital we acquire after this move in terms of evaluating this trade, those assets would have been a net positive, now they’ll be neutral (a good word to describe the team’s way of thinking) at best.

It goes without saying that if the Giants can’t come to terms with Williams by March 2020, that this deal with be an unmitigated disaster. If people wanted to have a rational discussion about whether or not Williams was a player to buy-low on in free agency – without giving up draft picks – I would have had it. I don’t love Williams as a player ( how could you with his lack of production), but I could have been on board with bringing him on with a reasonable contract with no draft capital attached.

To put just how much the Giants gave up for Williams into perspective, take a look at the Jadeveon Clowney trade earlier this season. The Seahawks gave up less for a far-superior player (three-time All Pro vs. a one-time Pro Bowl alternate), and that was before the season, as a cherry-on-top type of move for a contending team. This Giant team is going no where fast at 2-6, and literally gave up more capital to acquire a player, that’s reasonably speaking not even on the same level – with a boatload of character and effort concerns – albeit a similar time in their careers/contract situation. My head hurts.

Gettleman has almost assured that won’t happen now, as Williams will undoubtedly be looking to cash in as a free agent and has no sense of loyalty towards Big Blue. There will be a boatload of potential defensive line/pass-rush additions available in the off-season, there was no reason to pull the trigger so fast on Williams, right now. To make matters worse, in a theme that’s becoming all too common with Gettleman, the Giants appeared to be the only team interested in giving up legit draft capital to acquire the struggling player.

Via Connor Hughes (of the Athletic) on Twitter:

After the trade was reported, Adam Schefter of ESPN (does he really need an introduction?) disclosed that the Jets are picking up four-million of the 7.5-million dollars left on Williams’ deal in 2019 – while that takes a bit of the sting away, it doesn’t do nearly enough to explain this head-scratching move.

The Giants seemed set at defensive line

To make the move even more puzzling, one of the only places the Giants seemed to be solid at was along the defensive line – to make it worse, the team only uses three defensive lineman in it’s base 3-4 scheme. The one thing that could make this trade a little less awful for me, was if this was a move that signaled waving the white flag of the failed 3-4 experiment – I am not privy to any sort of information, but I could much more get on board with this if we returned to a 4-3. A four-man line of Williams, B.J. Hill, Dexter Lawrence and a draft pick/free agent addition edge-rusher is appealing to me.

Yet even if that is the case, Gettleman took the one spot on his roster that had young, affordable talent and nixed all of that in one swing. Dalvin Tomlinson has been a steady player, and is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. B.J. Hill has tailed off a little this year, but was a standout as a rookie, and the team still has to figure out if 2018 fifth-rounder R.J. Mcintosh is a piece for the future. Obviously, we all know how solid Dexter Lawrence has been in his rookie campaign. In essence, Gettleman is like a guy who’s on a terrible run on a blackjack table, and then decides to split tens with the first good hand he gets.

I just don’t see how bringing in a guy that has seven sacks in his last 39 games, and having to give said guy a monster contract is something anyone looking at this situation would entertain. If he was in the second-year of his rookie deal, maybe. But Gettleman is going to have to throw big money at an underwhelming player, at a spot he should have already been content with on a roster that is littered with holes.

What is the plan?

As I’ve talked about numerous times, I just don’t see a clear, concise plan when it comes to what Dave Gettleman is doing. We all know he made a costly decision to the future of this franchise when it came to not overhauling the roster – while attempting to put a band-aid on a bullet hole- after he took over in 2018. He’s only made matters worse over the past year as he’s attempted to ‘rebuild on the fly’ as he calls it, something that almost never works.

More from GMEN HQ

Does signing a middling offensive tackle on the wrong side of 30 to a record contract sound like a rebuilding move? How about giving a star receiver a record deal, guaranteeing him 40-million dollars, only to trade him months later? After that, he brought in a 31-year old player at that same position (Golden Tate)  that is redundant at best when it comes to this team’s personnel, and paid him handsomely.

Oh, he also could have moved on from his 38-year-old quarterback who had only 25% of his 2019 salary guaranteed to him after drafting a QB at six, but he didn’t do that, either. I could go on and on, but none of these moves represent someone who has a clear plan and is sticking to it at all costs. At best, its a scatterbrain, scuttle-butted way of trying to remain relevant with a depleted roster, and it’s failed, miserably.

So now, the big ‘100-million-dollar’ 2020 cap number so many people have been onerously throwing around is down to about 60-million if we don’t keep Williams (making this an all-time bad move), and reasonably speaking down to about 45-million, at best, if we do. Do you really think this roster can be rebuilt with 45-million dollars in cap space, and zero additional picks outside of our own in the first six rounds, and Leonard Williams? Not a chance.

Many people are also floating around misinformation in terms of Big Blue being guaranteed a third-round compensatory pick if Williams leaves, making this a potential loss of only a fifth-rounder — that is patently false. The Giants are going to be big spenders in free agency, and Williams is the only potential player that could leave and get any contract of note. Big Blue would only get a comp pick back if the team had more noteworthy (in terms of contract value and other factors) players leave and sign elsewhere than the ones we signed in return – that’s not even going to come close to happening, as Williams is our only legitimate big-time free agent this year. And even if by some miracle it did, we’d still have sacrificed a fifth-rounder for nothing – smart teams don’t do that.

So many of Gettleman’s defenders have afforded him with a landfill full of excuses, but it’s time to stop blaming Jerry Reese (and his two Super Bowls, that all of the same people conveniently give all the credit to Acorsi for – see the hypocrisy, there?) for this mess. ‘DG’ has now been on the job for two full off-seasons, and this is the product that’s on the field, with little resources to fix it moving forward.

While Jerry Reese surely left the Giants with a huge cap bill, and swung and missed on a ton of draft picks during his tenure, he can’t be blamed forever. This is on Gettleman, and team owner John Mara for letting it continue.

If you want some saving grace, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones looked spectacular yesterday. If he can continue to look anything like the guy we saw yesterday – or in Tampa – a bunch of these mistakes can be forgiven. I think there is a reasonable chance that happens, as I like most of what I’ve seen from him. Still, it’s going to be extremely difficult for Jones to have a successful career if the mistakes Gettleman has made are repeated in the future, and there’s no reason to expect that not to happen.

Hopefully, Gettleman will have a terrific day tomorrow at the trade deadline. It’s going to be tough for him to do that, as there’s not many appealing players on this roster for anyone to give up meaningful capital. Even if he does get it, you’ll have to subtract the third and fifth-rounders the team gave up today from the haul.

Regardless of how poorly these last 19-months have gone, all I want to see is a clear plan moving forward and some light at the end of the tunnel — this is not a good start.