Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman
Thanks for joining me, good morning. Obviously, I'm doing the call to discuss the (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) trade, which was finalized over the weekend after Odell and (Giants S) Jabrill (Peppers) passed their physicals. Before we begin the Q&A portion of the call, I'd like to address a few things that have been out there, as well as explain why we decided this move was right for the New York Football Giants. As a point of information, the only call that I initiated regarding moving Odell was to Buffalo. As you folks may or may not know, I have a personal relationship with (Bills General Manager) Brandon (Beane), being the Buffalo GM, from our time spent together in Carolina. I placed the call after I had learned they had conversations on Antonio Brown. I good naturedly chided Brandon about not calling us, and that's where it ended. So, that's Buffalo. San Francisco -- we had numerous conversations over time; myself and (49ers General Manager) John Lynch, the GM, and frankly we couldn't come to an agreement, so that died on the vine. As far as Cleveland is concerned, talks were initiated by them and (Browns General Manager) John Dorsey. John knew we weren't going to give Odell away. So frankly, his initial offer peaked our interest, and away we went. So, the initial call Tuesday morning, we finalized it, it was probably about 10 hours, and there was considerable back and forth.
So, the obvious question is 'Why?' That's the question that everybody has. After much discussion, we just believe this was in the best interest of the New York Football Giants. I want everybody to know that this was purely a football business decision. There's no intrigue, there's no he said, she said, none of that stuff. So, let's not waste time with those types of questions after the fact. Odell was a tremendous talent, making him a valuable asset. With football being the ultimate team game -- you guys know I've said that a number of times -- with football being the ultimate team game, we turn that fact into three assets at the very least.
Some have questioned why we signed Odell and then traded him. As I said publicly twice, we didn't sign him to trade him, but obviously things change. Frankly, what changed is a team made an offer we couldn't refuse. As it turns out, the fact that he was signed for five more years made him very attractive and enabled us to get legitimate value. You ask me about my mantra of not quitting on talent, and yes, I believe that fully, but quitting on talent is when you cut a player, or get marginal value in return, and we all know this did not happen here. Speaking of value, you ask me how we came to this. My barometer or litmus test was the franchise tag. So, just for the sake of discussion, or explanation, if we had not signed Odell back in August, and we had played the season out and we had put the franchise tag on him -- if another team had signed him, and we didn't match it, we would've gotten two first-round picks. So, that was my litmus test. Oh, and by the way, as a point of reference, it has only happened once in league history, that was in '98 with Carolina signing (DT) Sean Gilbert off the franchise tag. Again, as our litmus test, it turns out we not only got two first-round picks, but we also got a third.
I completely understand why people are going to debate the merits of this deal, because draft picks are involved. This trade really won't be able to be completely evaluated until we get further down the road. Finally, because of Odell's talent and personality, this was a decision we did not enter into lightly. There were a number of factors to take into consideration, and I can assure you we thoroughly discussed them all. Let the games begin.
Q: You mentioned that this was just a football decision. Were the distractions from Odell a factor in your decision at all?
A: Obviously, there's a lot of stuff that factors in, but at the end of the day, in order for us to move Odell, the other team was going to have to knock it out of the park. As I said, we were not actively shopping him. Calls were coming to us, and the only one I reached out to was, again, Buffalo, and I was just as much giving Brandon a hard time as anything else. For us to get Jabrill Peppers, who we think is going to be a very good safety in this league. He's young, we've got him under contract for three years at very reasonable value. To get another one (first-round pick), this year is number 17, I think, and to get that kind of a value in this type of a draft, and to get a third-round pick completing our dance card for April, it was just too much to pass up. It was too much value for us. You look at everything, but at the end of the day, it's really about football. We've got positions to address. This was about us having the ability to address multiple positions.
Q: You said things came together in Cleveland and you only made that one call to Buffalo. Why not shop around and see what other teams had to offer, to see if you could've gotten a better offer?
A: That's a very fair question. When it comes to trading, the team that makes the call is playing from behind. You're in a much better position of strength when teams call you. You're in a much better position. Because I wasn't doing that -- we're not trading Odell, understand what I'm saying? That's really why it worked out the way it worked out. It (the trade) wasn't something we had to do, and someone was going to have to knock it out of the park.
Q: Can you best articulate what the plan is, and how letting (S) Landon Collins go, trading (WR) Odell Beckham, trading (LB) Olivier Vernon, but bringing back (QB) Eli Manning factors into your plan, and what that plan is?
A: Really and truly, very honestly, it's not my responsibility to tell you guys what I'm doing. Just like it's not my responsibility to respond to every rumor that comes down the pike. That's not my job. It's not my responsibility. Trust me, we’ve got a plan. Over time, you've got to be patient. Everybody wants answers now in this instant-gratification society, instant-gratification world, and everybody wants answers now. Over time, you'll see it. You've got to trust it.
Q: I know it's not your responsibility to tell us your plan, but the fans do want to have a vision. They want to know where you guys are headed.
A: I appreciate that, okay. We have positions to address, and that plan is to address those positions, plain and simple, and we'll do it with whatever means necessary. You may do it on a draft pick, you may do it on a waiver claim, you may do it in free agency, you may sign an unrestricted free agent, you may sign a street free agent, you may sign an NQO, a third-year player that doesn't get a qualifying offer from his team, and you may make a trade. There's a million ways to do it. We're exploring and using all those options.
Q: Do you view yourself as rebuilding? Or, are you trying to win as you move along here?
A: We're building. The object of this is to win as many games as possible every year. We're building. We were 3-13 when I took over. We were 5-11 last year -- 12 of those games were by a touchdown or less. We're building. I don't understand why that's a question. Really and truly, you can win while you're building. Down in Carolina, I walked into a different situation. The first year, we go 12-4. Then the next year, we had to build a little bit. We had a crazy year, go 7-8-1, but make the playoffs because the NFC South was struggling. We win a playoff game, lose a playoff game. Then the next year, we did everything but win the ultimate prize. You can win while you're building. They're not separate pieces.
Q: You mentioned at the combine that you wanted to have 'X' amount of dollars for the draft, 'X' amount of dollars for free agency. Having $33 million in dead money towards the salary cap, how much was that a factor in your decisions?
A: Really and truly, nobody wants to have that kind of dead money, but again, it's the long-term vision that we have in the building, and what we're going to do. Sometimes, you've got to do those things. There was a team this year with something like $60 million in dead money. That was the route they chose. We talked about it. (Giants Vice President of Football Operations and Assistant General Manager) Kevin Abrams does a great job of looking at it and saying -- hey, you've got to take a look at this, this is the way it works, this is what we're looking at in dead money, this is what we're looking at in cap space. Again, none of these decisions are made in a silo, none of them. Everything is interconnected. So to answer your question, we knew it, and we just decided this was the way we're going to go.
Q: What do you say to those who say you did not get enough in return for Odell?
A: First of all, what I say is what’s reasonable, what’s the best you are going to do? Someone sits out there and says you should have gotten four first round picks, you and I know that’s not going to happen. To me, it’s what I said earlier, it’s the litmus test of the franchise tag value. Franchise tag value is two first round picks. We got two ones and a three, one of them being a player. I think really and truly you are not going to be able to know the value. You are not going to be able to give a Roman Coliseum thumb up or thumb down on this trade for a little bit. We have to see how Jabrill develops, and we have to see who this number one is, who this number three is. You guys will obviously follow Odell’s career and we will go from there. In two or three years, you guys will have your opinions like you do now.
Q: Did you have any discussions about Eli and his bonus, is there a thought of extending him beyond 2019?
A: Yes, we talked about it. We just said we are going to keep moving. Today is the day he gets his bonus and we are just going to keep moving.
Q: On Landon Collins, it was clear you guys were not willing to go to that price point. Why not trade him at the deadline?
A: First of all, the rumor that we were offered a first round draft pick isn’t even remotely close to being accurate. Did we have teams call in on Landon, yes. At that point in time, it wasn’t what I thought he was worth. At that point in time, we were really struggling, and what message are we sending by trading him. I didn’t think the value was there, and it’s about value, so that’s why we didn’t do it.
Q: How does making the roster older in certain spots (Bethea, Tate, Zeitler) jive with your building theory?
A: It’s about accumulating really good football players, who are also really good folks. The culture is important, I have said it a million times, you guys know that. The bottom line is with the way the game has evolved, 65 percent of the time you are in sub. You need a guy in the back end that can get everybody lined up and make all the adjustment calls. If you don’t have that, you can’t function. I’ve watched Antoine (Bethea) for years, you talk about a great sixth round pick. He is an adult, he’s a professional football player. He knows what he is doing, he can still play. I have this crazy idea that age doesn’t bother me. I better because my age doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day, it’s about a good football player. Antoine Bethea is still a hell of a football player, so is Kevin Zeitler, those guys can flat play. Plus, we have 12 draft picks, we are going to be really young. It’s about building a team, it’s not about individual players in silos.
Q: Are you concerned with the pressure being put on Peppers?
A: Jabrill is a hell of a kid. He is very bright, he’s young. We talked about it. At the end of the day, he is coming here to play football. He is going to have Antoine helping him out. Jabrill is very bright in terms of his intelligence. I told Antoine, in time. Jabrill should be able to make the calls back there. He doesn’t feel that pressure, he is thrilled to be coming home. He is very close to his mom, he is going to live in Bergen County, I think. I don’t think he feels that pressure. He is just excited to be a Giant. It’s the team he grew up cheering for, this kid’s coming home. I don’t think he feels that pressure, and we certainly aren’t going to put that pressure on him. There is no reason for there to be that kind of pressure on him. He is coming here to be a safety, play football and help the New York Giants win games. It’ss that simple.
Q: Last year when you brought Saquon in, you guys said you didn’t worry about putting expectations on him because you thought he could live up to it and that was from ownership on down. You have laid out expectations for Peppers coming here, you said you wouldn’t have dealt Odell in that deal without Peppers, so in a sense, you are putting those expectations on him, no?
A: I’m not putting them on him. He was an important piece of the trade. I didn’t trade Odell straight up for Jabrill Peppers. Jabrill was an important piece to that trade. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe in his ability. We watched film, we evaluated and we did him coming out. I was in Carolina at the time, he came in for a private visit down there, so I had personally spent time with him. He’s part of the trade and he’s an important part of the trade. He’s coming here to be a safety for the New York Football Giants.
Q: I know you talked a lot about acquiring players and having holes that you need to fill. Just curious how you justify that with bringing Eli back this year against the savings? The $13 million in cap space that it would create if he’s not on the roster. Just trying to figure out how those two ideas can coexist?
A: At the end of the day, when you blow the whistle, 11 guys have to go out there. I’ve done that study and on offense you have to have a quarterback run out there. I said it in Indianapolis and I’ll say it again, you turn around and take a look at what happened last year once we got that o-line fixed, better, we’re going to continue working on that and look at what we did the second half of the year on offense. This narrative that Eli is overpaid and can’t play is a crock, I’m telling you. At the end of the day, you guys have to say, ‘Gettleman is out of his mind’ or ‘he knows what he’s talking about when he evaluates players.’ That’s really what it is, that’s really where it’s at and I’m okay if you disagree with me, that’s fine. What I’m telling you is if you turn around and take a look at what he’s making right now, and look around the league and see what quarterbacks are making, if you were in my shoes, you would say, you know what, there is really not -- the way he finished the season and what he’s making -- there really wasn’t a decision to make.