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Cover 4

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Cover 4: State of the Giants heading into spring football


Plenty of news came out of Phoenix last week. League executives, owners, general managers, and head coaches gathered there for the NFL Annual Meeting and addressed the media. The crew discusses the biggest takeaways, from both a Giants and league perspective:

John Schmeelk: I thought the most interesting information out of league meetings is what Giants general manager Joe Schoen had to say about the status of some of the contract negotiations currently going on, including Saquon Barkley.

"There's no outstanding offer right now," Schoen said. "Once we put the franchise tag on him, we step back. We knew that throughout the negotiation that if there was a time that we can't come to an agreement, we're going to go to the franchise tag. And that's what we did."

What does this mean for a long-term deal? We'll see.

The two defensive tackles are the other contractual topics that intrigue me. Leonard Williams is one of the top defenders on the roster, but he is on the last year of his deal with a big cap number. The fact that Schoen said he doesn't consider Williams' cap number to be onerous tells me he might just play out his former contract. With Dexter Lawrence due for a big extension, does the current regime believe it can invest big money in defensive tackles long-term? We'll see.

We are all learning in real-time how Schoen and his staff want to build a roster. Any hint as to what he is thinking is fascinating to me, which has me locked in on what he had to say at the league meetings.

Dan Salomone: For anyone who was worried about the Giants resting on their laurels, the Coach of the Year put that thought quickly to bed when asked about setting a high bar in Year 1 of the program. "Got smoked in the playoffs," Brian Daboll said bluntly. It goes back to the "talent gap" that Schoen mentioned in his season-ending press conference after the Giants lost to the Eagles 38-7 in the NFC Divisional Round. Now, Daboll set the mentality heading into the offseason workout program, which kicks off in less than two weeks.

"It starts all over," Daboll said. "I don't get that far down the road. … Just focus on today. Try to get better at the things we can get better at. Again, we have a long way to go in terms of time, and we have a long way to go in terms of improvement. You all know this: What you do one year has no correlation to what you do the next year. What you do one game has no correlation to what you do the next game. I'm not saying we're starting at ground zero, because they know our system and there's a lot of things they know more than they knew last year, but in terms of where we're at and the things we've got to do, we've got a long climb ahead of us."

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.

Lance Medow: The biggest takeaway from the league meetings came from Schoen when he addressed the makeup of the roster in the wake of several offseason moves. With Nick Gates and Jon Feliciano both leaving through free agency, as of right now, one of the biggest question marks on offense is who will win the starting center job. Schoen mentioned there are three internal candidates they'll consider, including Ben Bredeson, Jack Anderson and Shane Lemieux, who has only appeared in two games in the last two seasons combined due to injuries. Bredeson and Lemieux have each been in the league three seasons while Anderson just wrapped up his second. The three have combined for 23 starts but none at center.

This doesn't mean the team won't address that position in the draft or through free agency as training camp nears, but it's an indication that one of their guards could assume the center position throughout the spring and establish himself as the player to beat. I also wouldn't overlook Josh Ezeudu's potential at center given his versatility at North Carolina. Regardless of whether the starting center is currently on the roster or not, the Giants still need to develop a depth chart at that position because they lost two established veterans. That's more of a reason why rotating Bredeson, Anderson and Lemieux in the upcoming months will be beneficial for the team as it will provide the coaching staff an indication of who can handle that role and provide potential options throughout the season if injuries arise.

Matt Citak: The biggest takeaway from the league meetings has to be the various rule changes that were approved by clubs. Other than offensive and defensive linemen, players are now permitted to wear the number zero. Less than 24 hours after this rule was approved, it was announced that new Giants wide receiver Parris Campbell will wear the newest number allowed. Several other players from across the NFL immediately jumped on the trend as well, including Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Dallas Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse. Additionally, teams approved the adjustment to one preseason roster reduction date, as opposed to the three separate cut down days from the previous few years. Rosters will now be trimmed from 90 to 53 players on just one day towards the end of training camp, providing teams with more bodies for the duration of the preseason.

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