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Mailbag: Roster questions as trade deadline nears

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Bruce in Nevada: So why did the Giants trade Markus Golden - arguably their best pass rusher - for a sixth-round pick?

John Schmeelk: The Giants' pass rush has performed above many expectations this season. They have managed sacks on 7.3% of opponent pass attempts, which is the 10th-highest rate in the league. In terms of raw sack numbers, the Giants are tied for eighth in the NFL with 18 sacks. The Giants blitz about 32% of the time, which is the 10th-highest rate in the league.

Golden is only on a one year contract, and in a season when the Giants are 1-6, it makes sense to acquire picks for players who may not be on the roster next year. Golden played 175 snaps this season, which was fewer than Kyler Fackrell, and Lorenzo Carter (who didn't play the past two weeks due to injury).

Golden was being used primarily as a situational pass rusher. He only had 58 run defense snaps against 113 pass rushing snaps over the first seven weeks. Despite the injuries to Carter and Oshane Ximines, Golden still only managed 53 total snaps in Weeks 6-7. The coaching staff rationed out other snaps to rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin and veteran Devante Downs. 

Ian in Pennsylvania: Do you think the Giants should trade some of their big-name players who will become free agents before the deadline? It makes sense to me … [and considering] the salary cap is tight for 2021.

John Schmeelk: It depends on the contract and the player. If the Giants have players in the final year of their contract who they do not believe they are going to re-sign, it would make sense to get value for them before they leave in free agency. The team won't trade veteran players who they believe are part of the long-term solution for getting the team back to being a winner. But they also have to balance the likelihood of obtaining compensation picks for players, depending on their projected activity level in free agency.

Kurt in South Carolina: The coaches and players continually explain game day failures as a lack of execution. Is it possible that the Giants are simply being outplayed by superior athletes on the opposition?

John Schmeelk: Whenever a team starts a year at 1-6, there is never just one reason. The Giants' secondary is a good example. After DeAndre Baker's issues prompted his departure and 2018 third-round supplemental pick Sam Beal opted out, the Giants were left with few veteran options at cornerback across from James Bradberry. With Darnay Holmes' injury last week, the Giants gave snaps to Ryan Lewis, Madre Harper, and second-year pro Corey Ballentine. Lewis didn't arrive until he was added to the practice squad in September and Harper was not signed until October. The coaching staff has been trying to find the best combination of players in the back half of the secondary to give the team the best chance to win.

Harold in New York: Evan Engram has so much talent. Nice young man. Positive attitude. What are the coaches' assessment of his inconsistent play?

John Schmeelk: Coaches try to help a player improve by looking at some of the micro-issues that manifest themselves in some of the play that fans notice when they watch games. Most poor plays on the field can be traced back to some combination of technique or mental approach that can be fixed with reps or film work. On every play, each player is expected to execute his responsibilities with the proper technique. If done correctly, the result will usually be positive.

Peter in New York: Why do you think Wayne Gallman is so deep on the depth chart and will a wide receiver other than Darius Slayton catch a TD pass?

John Schmeelk: The second part of your question was answered last Thursday against the Eagles when Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate each caught touchdown passes. Shepard's importance to the offense was obvious as he managed to generate separation on a lot of his routes.

As far as Gallman's snaps, fellow running back Devonta Freeman has a lot of experience and production in the league. He can do a little of everything that the coaching staff values. With Freeman hurting his ankle last Thursday and Gallman finishing the game strong, perhaps he will have more of an opportunity against the Bucs on Monday night.

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