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John Mara talks state of Giants at NFL Annual Meeting

JOHN-MARA

PALM BEACH, Fla. –The calendar has yet to flip to April, but for many the story of the Giants' offseason has largely been written. A dearth of salary cap space has prompted the team to bid farewell to several contributors from last season while limiting acquisitions to players largely excluded from lists of the top available free agents. The conclusion is the Giants might struggle to improve on last year's 4-13 record.

But the Giants have a front office regime in place with general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll, who has constructed a new coaching staff. The team has brought in several intriguing players, including running back Matt Breida, offensive linemen Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano, and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. And the Giants have nine selections in the NFL Draft, including the fifth and seventh in the first round and five of the top 81.

John Mara concedes plenty of challenges lie ahead but doesn't endorse the theory that improvement will be out of reach in 2022.

"I don't think it's a very high bar to improve over last year, but we've got some draft capital," he said Sunday at the NFL Annual Meeting at The Breakers. "I think we've signed some pretty good players so far. I really like the staff that Brian has put together. I do think we'll be a much better team. But I know those words are shallow right now until we actually start playing. Hopefully, we'll have a better injury situation than we've had. We've taken a hard look at our practices and what we need to change, and I expect us and hope that we'll be a lot healthier next year."

This offseason, the Giants have avoided blockbuster contracts as financial constraints have limited their ability to bring in free agents with the same gaudy credentials as those who have arrived in the past.

"Sometimes, modest is good," Mara said. "We've been in situations where we've spent pretty aggressively; it hasn't always worked out. Sometimes getting guys who are a little less expensive but fulfill important roles for you is the way to go and that is where we are right now. We don't have a choice, but I think we'll be in a very good cap situation next year."

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2022 offseason.

Mara publicly discussed for the first time several other issues that have surfaced this offseason.

*On why he continues to have such a strong conviction about Jones.

"I think he's shown enough when we had the right pieces around him and when we've been relatively healthy, he's shown enough talent to make us believe that we can win with him, I've been quoted over and over again about all the problems that we've caused for him by the lack of continuity and the lack of stability. We've got to help him become a good player, become a better player and hopefully, we'll do that this year. The head coach and the general manager have both been very impressed with him so far. He's got everything that you want. We just have to, number one, keep him healthy and, number two, put the right pieces around him."

*On the decision to release safety Logan Ryan, a two-year starter and defensive captain who quickly signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It was a decision that Brian and Joe made and decided that they wanted to move on, so I wasn't going to block it. I was sorry to see him go. I thought he was a good player. I thought he did some great things for us in the community, but again, the head coach and the general manager make a football decision and I'm not going to block it."

*On the possibility of trading or releasing 2020 Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry to get salary cap relief.

"That would hurt, because he's been a very good player and he has been the consummate professional for us. But the cap situation is what it is, so we'd have to consider all options there."

*On whether he has given Schoen the "green light" to trade running back Saquon Barkley.

"We're not shopping Saquon, but Joe's the general manager and if he and the head coach want to make a personnel decision and they have a conviction about it, I'm not going to interfere with it. That's not something that we're actively looking to do, let's put it that way."

*On whether Barkley's marketability and star power would influence that decision.

"I'm certainly conscious of that, but I don't think it's a major factor. At the end of the day, put the best possible team on the field and build for the future. I like him. He's been a great representative for us. I still think he's a really good player. I think he could potentially have a very big year this year, but at the end of the day, the head coach and the general manager make those decisions."

*On whether the Giants will pick up Jones' fifth-year option by the May 2 deadline.

"That's not a decision we've made as of yet. That's a discussion we'll be having over the next month or so."

*Do the Giants have the complementary pieces to help Jones become the quarterback the Giants hope he will be?

"I think we're on the way there. I don't think we're a finished product by any stretch of the imagination."

View behind-the-scenes photos of the newest members of the team touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

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