The New York Giants introduced Joe Schoen as their general manager on Wednesday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The former assistant general manager of the Buffalo Bills met with the media for the first time and presented his vision for the Giants. President John Mara also fielded questions from reporters.
The Giants.com crew gives their biggest takeaways from what they said in this week's edition of Cover 3:
John Schmeelk: When Joe Schoen was asked about the Giants' salary cap situation, he started the answer by simply saying "it's a concern and it's real." With their aggressive posture in free agency in 2021, the Giants will have to make moves in March to be in salary cap compliance and create room for their draft class and free agents.
He closed that same answer by saying "there are going to be difficult decisions that are going to have to be made." In other words, not only are high-priced reinforcements unlikely to be arriving in free agency, the team may have to trade or move on from veteran players on the roster in order to re-sign any of their own players or to acquire depth.
In other words, Schoen is going to have to improve the roster through the draft, develop the young players already on the roster on rookie contracts, and find high "production per dollar" players in free agency who will not be at the top of the free agent market. Those are things he was able to help Brandon Beane do when Schoen was the Assistant General Manager in Buffalo.
This method will make a quick turn-around more difficult, since it takes time to develop young players and even the most talented rookies often take time to hit their stride in the NFL. Andrew Thomas' development is an example of that.
Schoen is putting a process in place that should lead to long-term success, even if the team is not a Super Bowl contender right away. The following statement may have been his most important of the day: "I'm not a big tear it up, rebuild (guy). I think you can truly build a roster when you can compete for today and build for tomorrow. We're going to do the draft, free agency. Whatever avenue we can, we're going to continue to build a competitive roster and we want to see progress. We're going to continue to build with the long-term in mind as we build it, but I think you can compete today and still build for tomorrow."
It will be a difficult road ahead for Schoen after the team's five consecutive losing seasons. But an immediate improvement of play on the field (from improved health and play from the young core of the roster) combined with a long-term strategic outlook on building the roster should engender much-needed patience from Giants fans as the franchise tries to become one that wins consistently for a long time.
Building through the draft and re-signing the team's own players is the method Schoen prescribed and it is one that should sustain success if the team drafts well. It is hard to do it any other way in the NFL.
Dan Salomone: John Mara and Joe Schoen were candid when it came to Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, two top draft choices who have dealt with multiple regime changes. The lack of continuity has hurt the Giants individually and collectively on the field, and Schoen's hire was the first step in addressing the problem. The new general manager believes in "drafting, developing and retaining," but that is hard to do without stability at head coach. That will be the second step.
"We've done everything possible to screw this kid up since he's been here," Mara said of Jones, the sixth overall pick in 2019. "We keep changing coaches, keep changing offensive coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that, but let's bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not. I have a lot of hope in Daniel, and I know how badly he wants it. I know how the players feel about him. We are certainly not giving up on him by any stretch of the imagination."
As for Barkley, Schoen said he had a "good conversation" with the former second overall draft choice.
"I'm excited about Saquon," Schoen said. "When he came out as a rare talent – I know he's had some injuries and that comes with that position, but again, we talked a little about where you may need to upgrade. I think if you upgrade the offensive line that's going to help Daniel and it's going to help Saquon."
Lance Medow: If there was one statement that stood out during Joe Schoen's introductory presser, it was his response to a question regarding what needs to be accomplished to showcase progress and consistency: "Again, it goes back to we've got (nine) draft picks, so you've got to draft well. I believe in drafting, developing and then retaining our own. I think that's the way to build and supplement the roster with free agency." This statement should be displayed in every facility across the NFL. With the way the league is structured through the salary cap, you can't go on a spending spree every off-season to fill voids on the roster – the Giants experienced this first-hand before the 2016 season and the did not have staying power. The nucleus of the team has to be built through the draft.
The other side of the equation, and most important, is the players you draft need to then be developed by the coaching staff and produce consistently. Draft picks are great and the more the merrier but, at the end of the day, it's all about what you do with them and that was Schoen's main point. If you look at what the Bills' front office accomplished during Schoen's tenure, it's not just the players they selected in the first round but those in the middle rounds. Cornerback Taron Johnson was a fourth-round pick in 2018, they grabbed tight end Dawson Knox in the third round in 2019 and took wide receiver Gabriel Davis in the fourth round in 2020. All three of those players have proven to be key contributors and that's how you go about establishing depth on your roster. When you build through the draft, you don't put as much strain on the salary cap because those players are on rookie contracts.
The draft class and how the coaching staff develops it will dictate the outlook of this team in the coming years. In addition, the Giants need the 2020-21 draft classes to make strides because the Class of '22 won't necessarily do all the heavy lifting. Schoen acknowledged New York is in a difficult situation with the cap so that's more of a reason why the draft is his best resource.
View photos from Joe Schoen's first days on the job as the new general manager of the Giants.