With Jason Garrett as the new offensive coordinator, it would seem to make sense to bring in players that were successful in his system. But the NY Giants need to avoid bringing in players because they fit into a scheme and instead design their scheme around the strengths of their players.
Over the past two seasons, one of the biggest reasons the NY Giants failed in putting together a competent roster was because management attempted to bring in players solely because they had familiarity in a certain coaches scheme and system.
There have been reports that the NY Giants might be a landing spot for the plodding Jason Witten due to his history with Jason Garrett, and this move looks like one that would fail much this many of the ones over the past couple years.
This would be a huge mistake. Witten might make a solid tight ends coach, but it makes little sense to bring him in as a player. Do you remember when the Giants signed Jonathan Stewart because he brought leadership to the locker-room? The Giants are already set at the tight end position, and bringing in Witten at this point in his career just doesn’t make any sense.
Who are some other supposed scheme fits that the NY Giants should avoid in free agency? One would be Witten’s teammate, Amari Cooper. Even though he is the kind of wide receiver that excels in Jason Garrett’s offense, it would be a mistake to bring in a player like Cooper for many reasons.
Amari Cooper’s elite route-running ability and production in 2019 will make him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL. The Giants gave Odell Beckham Jr. a contract worth $18 million dollars annually in 2018, and Cooper would likely require an even bigger contact. According to spotrac, the Giants already have over $18 million allotted towards Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate (although Golden Tate is a candidate to be cut this offseason).
The Giants have the cap space to afford a player like Cooper, but they have too many holes throughout the roster to allocate more big money to the wide receiver position. Big Blue has serious needs at edge rusher, linebacker, cornerback, safety, offensive tackle, and center. The Giants should not allocate anymore high-level free agency or draft capital into the offensive skill positions.
If the Giants truly want to draft the best players available, it seems likely that they will draft at least one receiver during the draft. Most people are familiar with the draft’s top receiver, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, but the draft is chock-full with outstanding receiver prospects. With a little luck, a big-bodied receiver like Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson or Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool can fall to them in the second or third round.
While Deebo Samuel and Mecole Hardman were both integral in helping the 49ers and Chiefs on their respective Super Bowl runs, the wide receiver that led all rookies in receiving touchdowns this season was the Giants’ Darius Slayton.
The Giants wideout has the speed and quickness to separate from cornerbacks and has undeniable chemistry with Daniel Jones. With the 171st pick, the Giants picked the 22nd highest-rated rookie according to PFF, and they might have already found their WR1 of the future.
Another free agent the Giants’ new coaching staff is familiar with, but they should still avoid is Devin Mccourty. Even though he is still an excellent deep half safety, a major need for the Giants, he will turn 33 before next season. McCourty would also be too expensive for a team like the Giants with so many holes throughout the defense.
There are cheaper and younger options on the free-agent market for a deep half safety that the Giants could target. Anthony Harris and Justin Simmons are both younger and possibly cheaper than McCourty, and would still be major upgrades over Antoine Bethea.
The Giants need to learn from their mistakes. Antoine Bethea, Kareem Martin, Markus Golden, and Olsen Pierre were all ex-Arizona Cardinals players brought to the Giants because they had familiarity with and were fits in James Bettcher’s scheme. Golden had a decent first season with the Giants, but the other ex-Cardinals struggled mightily.
James Bettcher’s scheme was ineffective without the All-Pro talent he had in Arizona. Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu can help make any scheme look good. James Bettcher is now out as the defensive coordinator, and so should the habit of bringing in players because they were familiar with a system.
Joe Judge and his coaching staff will start teaching more, and won’t be married to a specific offensive or defensive scheme. Judge explained this philosophy to the NY Post’s, Paul Shwartz. “Everyone’s got a fancy scheme and there’s a lot of guys who can draw from their past experience. But teach me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Teach me.”
The Giants should sign the best possible free agents, and then teach them and get the most out of their abilities. They should teach them as if they are teaching them to make a PB&J. It’s what the great coaches do.
Dave Gettleman and company have tried the familiarity route, and it failed miserably.