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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Offseason questions for the Giants


The crew discusses questions for the team as the offseason gets underway:

John Schmeelk: The Giants are selecting sixth in the upcoming draft. No franchise wants to be picking that high, but when a team has the opportunity, it is essential to take advantage and select difference maker.

Picking so high and hitting on the selection can be a franchise-altering event. Truly special players can go a long way in changing the trajectory of a team, even if that player is not a quarterback. Would anyone argue selecting Ja'Marr Chase has not altered the Bengals' future? Would anyone argue differently about Nick Bosa or Myles Garrett, anchors for two of the best defenses in the NFL?

Quarterbacks obviously have outsized impacts, from Joe Burrow to Trevor Lawrence, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, or C.J. Stroud. But determining what quarterback will be successful in the NFL is particularly difficult. It is not easy. Injuries, fit, and other factors can derail promising careers quickly, even for the most physically gifted players. The Giants need to continue to add players to their roster that other teams have to plan around, and the sixth pick in the draft will be the best way to do so this offseason.

Dan Salomone: While the offseason is about finding the right players, the Giants also need to find some more people to coach them. At his season-ending press conference, coach Brian Daboll announced that special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson will not return in 2024. They joined the previously announced departures of running backs coach Jeff Nixon, who will be the offensive coordinator at Syracuse University, and director of strength and performance Craig Fitzgerald, who took over the same position at the University of Florida. In addition, the Giants parted ways with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins.

Brian Daboll has filled a vacancy in offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, who just finished his second season with the Las Vegas Raiders. It was his 20th year of coaching, fifth at the NFL level. He spent the previous three seasons with the New England Patriots, including two years as their offensive line coach after being promoted from coaching assistant.

In his first season with the Raiders in 2022, despite starting seven different offensive line combinations, Bricillo's group paved the way for a rushing attack that averaged 4.81 yards per carry, the second-highest average in franchise history. Raiders rushers were also stuffed for a loss or no gain only 68 times that season, the fewest in the NFL.

Although they never overlapped in New England, Bricillo, like Daboll, entered the NFL coaching ranks under Bill Belichick. Bricillo also spent one season with – and then took over for – legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who won five Super Bowls and was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

On Tuesday, Joel Thomas was hired as the team's new running backs coach and Aaron Wellman as the executive director of player performance. Thomas is a 24-year coaching veteran who spent the previous nine seasons as the New Orleans Saints' running backs coach. During that time, the Saints tied for second in the NFL with 161 rushing touchdowns and Thomas' backs registered 27 individual 100-yard performances.

Wellman rejoins the Giants after spending the previous four seasons as Indiana University's senior assistant athletic director for football performance.

View photos of the previous 25 players selected with the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.

Lance Medow: As we gear up for the start of the offseason, the quarterback position sits atop the list of questions. Daniel Jones is coming off a torn ACL that cut his 2023 campaign short and put his status for the start of the 2024 season up in the air. Tyrod Taylor is a scheduled free agent, so Tommy DeVito is the only healthy signal caller currently under contract.

Regardless of Jones' outlook and optimism for a quick return, as Joe Schoen mentioned during the end-of-season presser, the team needs to prepare for the worst-case scenario and have another quarterback in place. Taylor clearly meets that criteria, but while Schoen didn't rule out Taylor's return, it's possible the salary cap could play a role in that decision. Veteran backups don't come cheap, so even if they wanted to pursue another individual that fits the bill, there's no guarantee the numbers will work. Based on the volume of injuries to starting quarterbacks in recent history, especially 2023, I think there's a great deal of value in having a polished veteran on the roster, whether he starts or serves as a backup, so I don't view using cap space to address that position as a waste.

The Giants could also address the position through the draft, whether it be with the sixth overall pick or in one of the early rounds. It could give the team options, which isn't a bad situation at all. If Jones is ready to go Week 1, you can simultaneously develop a young quarterback and, if for some reason, Jones can't get on the field by then, you can give that player instantaneous game experience.

The good news for the Giants is by the time they get to the draft in late April, they'll know more info on Jones' rehab in comparison to now. When they get to training camp, the picture under center will be a bit clearer, but every player is different. The Giants must anticipate and plan for a variety of scenarios.

Matt Citak: For the second consecutive year, the Giants are faced with the question of what to do with running back Saquon Barkley. Following a dominant 2022 campaign that saw him total 1,650 yards from scrimmage while not missing a single game due to injury on his way to a Pro Bowl selection, the Giants placed the franchise tag on Barkley before agreeing to a new one-year deal right before the start of training camp. This came after the star running back rushed for a career-best 1,312 yards on 295 carries, the most volume he has received on the ground in his NFL career.

Barkley suffered an ankle injury towards the start of the 2023 season and was sidelined for three games. The soon-to-be 27-year-old still finished the season with 962 yards on 247 rush attempts (3.9 yards per carry) while adding 41 receptions for an additional 280 yards. He reached the end zone 10 times for the second consecutive season, with six coming on the ground and four through the air.

Barkley and the Giants were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal last offseason, and it remains to be seen if they will be able to this year. As Joe Schoen noted at his end-of-season press conference, the Giants have the ability to place the franchise tag on the running back if they can't agree on a deal by March 5.

"Saquon and I will talk about that," Schoen said about using the tag on Barkley. "That's a tool we have at our disposal. When we redid his deal before he came to camp, that wasn't taken out of that deal. It wasn't a 'hey, we'll do this but no franchise tag' so that's an option that we have on the table. We'll have those conversations; I'm not saying we will, or we won't. A lot of those conversations will be had over the next month or so."

View photos of notable players selected with the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.


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