Remember when the New York Giants felt they were going to be able to compete in 2018? Fun times. But the cold hard reality has begun to sink in: The Giants' season is over. The new pieces of the offensive line have yet to really gel and play with consistency. Quarterback Eli Manning has become so gun-shy as a passer that he's turtled at the slightest sign of contact and refused to throw to a wide open Odell Beckham Jr. on the goal line this weekend. So let's talk about the upcoming Giants rebuilding project.
The Giants are going to need a good deal of draft capital if they're going to swing this thing around quickly. After all, the team is already short a 2019 3rd-round pick. The Giants surrendered that pick in the 2018 Supplemental Draft as a means of drafting CB Sam Beal out of Western Michigan.
Not a great start already, but hey...that's okay. The Giants have already flipped CB Eli Apple (a 2016 1st-round pick) for a 2019 4th-round pick and a 2020 7th-round pick. This morning, the team dealt NT Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions for a 2019 5th-round selection.
Where do we go from here? These additional Day 3 picks are fine and dandy but the Giants need to get serious if they're looking to drastically overhaul this roster. Here are three high value pieces on the Giants' roster that they should consider shopping.
Olivier Vernon, DE/OLB
Vernon was a top prize from the 2016 offseason as a 25 year old free agent. The Giants offered Vernon top dollar, inking him to a 5-year, $85M deal that spring. In the 30 games Vernon has donned Giants gear for since, he's logged 16 sacks, which is a fair number but can serve as further affirmation that he's not a featured rusher on a team.
Vernon would be best implemented returning to the role he held in Miami: as a second pass rusher who has the luxury of a dominant pass rusher on the other side to draw attention.
Or, you know...the Giants can pay him the $31M that's due to him over the final two years of his deal. Or, you know...the Giants can cut him in 2019 and bite the bullet on $8M in dead cap space and get nothing back.
Surely there are playoff contenders who would love to add an accomplished pass rusher for the stretch run to January? Plus, trading Vernon opens the door for 2018 rookie Lorenzo Carter to get some additional playing time.
Sterling Shepard, WR
As a rookie in 2016, Shepard had eight touchdowns. Now, in his third season, he's on pace for his first career 1,000 yard season in the NFL.
But here's the cold, hard reality. Shepard is probably option 4, at best, in this offense. Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram are going to command more long term commitment than Shepard.
At a ripe age of 24 years old, Shepard is budding into a quality starting wide receiver in the NFL. But he's also up for contract renewal after the 2019 season, meaning the Giants have just one and a half years of control before he's going to ask for....starting wide receiver money.
The Giants won't be ready to compete before then, so why not see if anyone is game to restock their receiving corps with a youthful talent who is beginning to touch his potential as a player...but likely will be a costly resigning the Giants may feel better doing without?
The fact that Shepard isn't an expiring contract this offseason should allow the Giants to get more value for him than someone like Landon Collins, who could very easily be up for a trade but won't have much demand since he's scheduled to hit free agency this March.
Janoris Jenkins, CB
It's now or never, New York. Jenkins is 29 years of age. The invisible wall that claims so many CBs at the age of 30 isn't getting farther away. Jenkins doesn't have an attractive out in his contract, so this is a long term investment until 2021.
Perhaps New York would like to avoid nearly $15M in cap hits each of the next two seasons? Particularly for an aging player?
Now, Jenkins has not played his best football this season. That may cost the Giants some notable value in negotiations. Ultimately? Jenkins stepping into a fresh situation as a proven starter in the NFL is valuable in its own right. Heck, one look across the depth charts of the teams these days and Jenkins would be an upgrade on plenty of teams.
If the Giants are serious about this rebuild, it's about time to shed some cap. Jenkins and Vernon are owed a combined $53.5M over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. They're still in their physical prime, at least for now.
So if the Giants are serious about this overnight shift in philosophy, they'd be wise to put their money where their mouth is.