Dave Gettleman: Good, bad and ugly of disappointing NY Giants tenure

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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General Manager David Gettleman and President John Mara Jr. of the New York Giants (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
General Manager David Gettleman and President John Mara Jr. of the New York Giants (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Ugly

Where things really fell apart from the start of Gettleman’s tenure is his failure to construct a competent offensive line. After grading out in the bottom half of the league in 2018 and 2019 according to PFF, the line has only gotten worse, ranking 31st in 2020 and 28th through week 15 of 2021.

As of right now, there’s just one offensive lineman who’s worthy of a locked-in spot on the 53-man roster next year and that’s Andrew Thomas, who has really found a groove despite battling injuries (and bad coaching).

Instead of signing Golladay to a $72 million deal with $40 million guaranteed, there were a handful of offensive lineman out there that signed for similar or less money.

G Joe Thuney: 5 years, $80 million ($48 million guaranteed)
C Corey Linsley: 5 years, $62.5 million ($26 million guaranteed)
G Matt Feiler: 3 years, $21 million (14.5 million guaranteed)
C David Andrews: 4 years, $19 million ($6.5 million guaranteed)
C Alex Mack: 3 years, $14.85 million ($5.6 million guaranteed)

All five of those players have not only played more games than Golladay this season, but each one of them have graded out better than each of the Giants’ interior lineman through week 16, according to PFF.

Sure, Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux suffering season-ending injuries early on was something that couldn’t be foreseen, but even so, Gates was an undrafted guard who transitioned to center last year and did a below average job. Meanwhile, Lemieux was selected in the 5th round in 2020 and performed mostly unspectacularly as a rookie, as PFF ranked him last among all offensive lineman to play at least 300 snaps.

Upon becoming GM, Gettleman inherited an offensive line group that had Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Brett Jones, Cameron Fleming, Bobby Hart, D.J. Fluker and Chad Wheeler. Ereck Flowers and Chad Wheeler were retained by Gettleman in 2018, although Flowers was cut in October and Wheeler was cut the following preseason.

Everyone else either walked in free agency or was cut, most notably Richburg and Pugh, both of which signed solid deals with the Niners and Cardinals, respectively. Gettleman opted to sign longtime Patriots tackle Nate Solder to a massive 4-year, $62 million contract, making him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL despite Solder having never been named an All Pro or even a Pro Bowler in his time in New England.

After overpaying for Solder, Gettleman took Saquon Barkley with the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 draft. It’s been proven time and time again that you can find good running backs all throughout the draft. For example, all six of the Pro Bowl running backs this year were selected after the first round.

Some theorize that Gettleman was urged or even forced into taking Barkley due to the fact that he was the consensus best prospect in the draft, and the ownership wanted to get Eli Manning one last run at a playoff appearance. While I think there could be some truth to that, the pick will ultimately appear on Gettleman’s record, and that’s mostly what matters when evaluating his tenure.

To take a player that high at a position that’s known to suffer injuries with a short shelf-life for the peak of their careers was a massive oversight by Gettleman. Sure, Barkley was electric his first two seasons, but once the injuries piled up, there was no going back as running back is such a physically demanding position.

There were a number of directions Gettleman could’ve gone that would’ve put this team in a better situation long-term, but ultimately, drafting Barkley and inking Solder to a massive deal will go down as what sunk the Gettleman and the Giants.

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