Every so often Joanne Gettleman texts her husband at work: "You working on your plan yet?"
She is being facetious. Others are not.
"It's pretty funny stuff," Gettleman said Wednesday on NFL Network in Phoenix as the annual league meeting wrapped up. "At the end of the day, we've got plenty of time. We've gotten through free agency. My theory on free agency is if you do it right, it puts you in a positon where you can take the best player available in the draft. You're not in a situation where 'I have to have a _' -- and then fill in the blank. You don't want to be there. So I think we've done that. You're still nibbling around the edges. We all are, all 32 teams are nibbling around the edges, seeing who's still available, and then probably in another couple weeks you start your draft meetings and be ready to rock and roll."
The plan has been rolled out over the last month, beginning with the re-signings of Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas and centers Spencer Pulley and Jon Halapio. Then March 13 happened. The Giants traded wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and outside linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Browns in exchange for safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler, and the 17th and 95th overall choices in the upcoming draft. Gettleman now has 12 picks at his disposal.
"Well, really and truly, I call this the roster-building season," Gettleman said. "There's a game season, and there's a roster-building season. At the end of the day, we don't play until September. So I have my beliefs in how we're going to build the roster, and that's what we're doing."
On a conference call five days after the trade, Gettleman said it was "purely a football business decision." He reiterated that on Wednesday.
"Every decision that a general manager makes is sending a message to the rest of the team and sending a message obviously to the fan base," Gettleman said. "At the end of the day, football is the ultimate team game. Last time I checked when you blow a whistle and the ball is spotted, there's 11 guys on both sides of the ball. So that's why I say it's the ultimate team game. You've got a sport like baseball, it's the batter or the pitcher. That's what it is. Every once in a while you have a rundown, so you might get a handful of guys involved. But our game is the ultimate team sport. The best team will win, and really it's about volume in terms of talent. The business decision was teams had called us, we listened, and we were not going to give Odell away – and we didn't."
Among the reasons Gettleman didn't think he "gave" Beckham away was the inclusion of Peppers in the package. Peppers was the 25th overall choice in the 2017 NFL Draft and "legitimately so" in the eyes of Gettleman. He will make up a new-look defensive backfield after three-time Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins signed with the Redskins as a free agent. The Giants also signed 14-year veteran and Super Bowl champion Antoine Bethea, who had 121 tackles and a career-high three sacks last season in Arizona.
"(Peppers has) played solid the first couple of years, and he's going to get better and better," Gettleman said. "He also has punt return ability, and the bottom line is he's a quality three-down player. In the old days when I started, which I'm not going to tell you what year that was (Gettleman entered the NFL in 1986 as a scouting department intern for the Buffalo Bills), in the old days you could have what we call a 'box' safety, a guy who's a two-down 'box' safety. You can't anymore. The game's evolved, and your safeties have to be legitimate three-down players. And that's what Jabrill is."
Of course, none of that matters if you don't have a quarterback. You can't win without one, and Gettleman knows that and says that. The Eli Manning conversation wears him out because he believes there is an incorrect narrative out there about the two-time Super Bowl MVP. The Giants are 47-65 since their last Super Bowl title in 2011 and 8-24 since their last playoff appearance in 2016. But the team's top decision-makers believe Manning can still thrive with the right pieces. That is backed up by the fact the 5-11 Giants led the NFC East in scoring last year when the division sent two teams to the playoffs.
"Eli can still make all the NFL throws," Gettleman said. "He can still play. Last time I checked, if you're quarterback's upright, it gives you a chance. We've rebuilt, built up, or whatever phrase you want to use, the O-line. We got another important piece with the Kevin Zeitler trade. Eli is still a quality NFL quarterback, and it wears me out, it really does. Obviously he's 38 years old. Like (Giants coach) Pat (Shurmur) says, he's closer to 40 than he is 20. … The bottom line is, yes, we have to address it. It's reality. So when the time's right, we will."
Lastly, Gettleman was asked on NFL Network for his message to Giants fans, who are eager to see if the time is right on the night of April 25 in Nashville.
"We've had a really good offseason," Gettleman said. "It wasn't a secret, three of our last four games we couldn't make a stop on defense in the fourth quarter. We could have won all three of those games. We've really bolstered the backend with the trade for Jabrill and also signing Antoine Bethea. We've strengthened the O-line with the Kevin Zeitler trade. We're building, we're building, and you can win and build at the same time. They're not two separate pieces. You can do that, and we're going to do that. We're going to fix this, and we're going to be better."
Sounds like a plan.