Giants writers debate Big Blue topics heading into the offseason:
Free agency is equally important as the draft this year for new general manager Dave Gettleman.
John Schmeelk - Fiction:It isn't close. The Giants have only so much cap space to spend after their very busy offseason in 2016, but even if they were to free up more money, free agency would be nowhere near the importance of having the second pick in the draft. When you select that high, the pick can be franchise altering. Whether it's finding a franchise player or trading down for extra picks, the right move can impact your team for a decade. The Giants also have the second picks in the second and third rounds, prime real estate. It's all about the draft for the Giants in 2018.
Dan Salomone - Fact: When a team goes 3-13, there are too many holes to be plugged by a half-dozen draft picks. Free agency will be key this year in setting up what the Giants do in the draft. They don't have to be the players with the most name recognition, and Gettleman has made a career of uncovering diamonds in the rough. See: Antonio Pierce and Shaun O'Hara.
Lance Medow - Fact: This is a fact every year, and it's not just about the moves you make in free agency. This also includes the moves you don't make and how disciplined you are in monitoring the market. The Giants have the number two overall pick, so it's an extremely important selection, but three starters on the offensive line (Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, D.J. Fluker), two starting linebackers (Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard) and running back Orleans Darkwa are all set to be free agents. Dave Gettleman will have to make several key decisions this offseason with respect to keeping or parting ways with a number of starters on both sides of the ball. You can only fill so many voids through the draft.
The position group with the most uncertainty heading into the offseason is the offensive line.
John Schmeelk - Fact:This one isn't close either. The Giants have two starters in Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh that are free agents. Bobby Hart, a starter at right tackle, was released before the final game of the regular season. The only two players that started for most of the season were Ereck Flowers at left tackle and John Jerry at both guard spots. There is a chance there might not be one Giants offensive lineman starting at the same spot in the first game of 2018 that they started at in the first game of 2017. Dave Gettleman made it clear at his introductory press conference that he has to fix the offensive line, and that will no doubt mean change.
Dan Salomone - Fact:Gettleman abstained from giving his thoughts on why the Giants were 2-13 at the time he was hired as general manager. "Shame on me to open up my big mouth when I don't have all the information," he said at his introductory press conference. But later on, when asked about how quickly the team can turn it around, he did admit they have to fix the offensive line. "Let's be honest," he said. "Let's not kid each other. I told you at the top, big men allow you to compete and that's what we've got to fix." From free agency to health situations to what he sees on tape, there are a lot of decisions to be made up front.
Lance Medow - Fact: I don't think there's any other position that's close because, as I mentioned above, three starters are scheduled to be free agents. That's more than half the offensive line. Until those decisions are made, the look of the offensive line is very much up in the air. You can make a case for quarterback but Eli Manning is under contract. Same can't be said for the bulk of the offensive line.
The Giants will make more trades under Dave Gettleman.
John Schmeelk - Fact:As the GM in Carolina, Gettleman traded up and down in the draft. He also traded away one of his former players that played a big role in their 2015 Super Bowl Season, Kony Ealy, to acquire the Patriots' second-round pick in last year's draft. I expect Gettleman to be more active, especially when it comes to trading down in the draft when it is in the team's best interest.
Dan Salomone - Fact:Gettleman made it a point to say the Giants are going to use "every avenue" to build the roster, specifically pointing to the draft, trades, and the waiver wire. Bold moves have already been made at the top, and they will only continue when it comes to personnel. Look, you don't make a trade for the sake of it. But if the right player is there for the right compensation, you go for it.
Lance Medow - Fact:In four full seasons as the Carolina Panthers' GM, Dave Gettleman made 10 trades, so he was quite active on draft day, as well as during the course of the year. In that same timeframe, the Giants orchestrated six trades. Given Gettleman is inheriting a roster he didn't put together, I think he's more likely to part ways with players via trade.
Finding a franchise quarterback is more difficult than hiring the right head coach.
John Schmeelk - Fact: This is a great statement to ponder, but I think it is harder to find the quarterback simply because of availability. Teams can scour every NFL team and their assistant coaches for a head coach. They can interview any person that is not already a head coach in the NFL. Quarterbacks, however, are a different story. Very rarely does a franchise quarterback become a free agent. Kirk Cousins will be available this offseason, but it will be the first time a quarterback of that caliber has been on the open market since Drew Brees in 2006. You can find a quarterback later in the draft, but your odds are substantially better if you pick in the top three and have your choice of the litter. Some teams never select that high. In order to trade up to pick that high, you have to mortgage one or two entire drafts. It is COSTLY. Then if you miss on a quarterback, it may set your franchise back far longer (5-7 years) than if you miss on a coach. Quarterbacks need time to develop and require patience. Neither is easy to get, but finding the quarterback is more challenging than finding a head coach.
Dan Salomone - Fiction:Coaching is more important in football than any other major sport. You can also say quarterback is the most important position in sports, and you would not be wrong. But the culture and situation really dictate how a quarterback develops in this league. And who's responsible for that? The coach.
Lance Medow - Fact: If you are looking for a new head coach, you can narrow your choices by focusing on individuals who have previous experience in the NFL and examine their track records in the league. That's not the case when you're thinking about drafting a college quarterback. That decision is all based on potential and whether you think the player's skillset will translate to the NFL. In both situations, success isn't guaranteed, but on the coaching front, you should have a greater sample size, which should eliminate some of the guesswork.