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2022 Still Only A Reset Year For New York Giants

  • Alonso Cervera-Pizana
  • September 28, 2022
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The New York Giants are eating their vegetables this season. After years of salary cap mismanagement and using high-value draft picks on non-premium positions (hello, Saquon Barkley and Dexter Lawrence) in the Dave Gettleman era, Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll found themselves in need of wiping their cap sheet and injecting young talent into a team that had very little in the way of elite players this offseason.

On the surface, they succeeded. Their first order of business appeared to be cutting costs. With Gettleman-era free-agent signings Kenny Golladay, James Bradberry, and Adoree’ Jackson making sticker price free agent money and the team up against the salary cap, the team released Bradberry and veterans Logan Ryan, Kyle Rudolph, and Devontae Booker. With their two top-10 picks, they selected edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux and right tackle Evan Neal, a welcome injection of high-level young talent at premier positions the Giants sorely needed.

While the Giants are undoubtedly better positioned for the future now than they were a year ago, the team is not positioned to reap the rewards of Schoen’s maneuvering until 2023 at the earliest. No two players on the roster better exemplify this than Daniel Jones and Golladay.

Jones, the team’s first-round pick in 2019, had his fifth-year option declined by the team this offseason. The option would have paid him nearly $22.4 million in 2023. Instead, Jones is currently playing out the 2022 season in a contract year. It seems unlikely the Giants see Jones as a long-term answer; his turnover-proneness (he’s turned the ball over 52 times in 41 games over the course of his career), and his lack of instincts in the pocket (21 lost fumbles lead the NFL since 2019) leave a lot to be desired. 

The most important question for the Giants when it comes to Jones is what defines a successful season for him. Ultimately, that question comes down to whether or not they view him as a player with the potential to be their quarterback of the future. If the answer to that question is “yes,” then the Giants should play Jones and take their lumps with him; nothing would be more important this season for them than finding out the answer to that question.

If the answer to that question is “no” (or if at some point during the season they determine that the answer to that question is no), then the Giants should simply want production out of the quarterback position that allows them to evaluate the rest of the players on their offense, similar to what the Detroit Lions are getting out of Jared Goff right now: competence. For a team in transition with no long-term answer at quarterback, mere competence has value because it allows the team to evaluate the rest of the players on offense. If a team has incompetent quarterback play, it becomes difficult to evaluate the rest of the offense.

The Giants seemed to have a contingency plan when they signed Tyrod Taylor to a two-year, $11 million contract this offseason. Taylor has shown the ability to run an offense with a baseline of competence and could allow the Giants to get a more complete evaluation of their young tackles Thomas and Neal, and young receiving options Wan’Dale Robinson, Daniel Bellinger (a pleasant surprise since training camp), and Kadarius Toney (if he and Brian Daboll can kiss and make up).

The Golladay situation is different. He likely would have fallen into the same category as Bradberry, Ryan, Rudolph, and Booker as veterans let go by Schoen this offseason, but his contract would have left $4.25 million more dead money on the books than cap savings for the Giants if released. At the same time, he has been a net negative on the field ever since getting to New York. The team is likely waiting until the offseason to make a move when a release would save New York $6.7 million in cap space—unless things get untenable in the locker room.

A team Gettleman put in cap hell through irresponsible free-agent spending and kicking the can down the line with contract restructures is now in line to have the second most cap space in the NFL in 2023, per Spotrac, a number that will grow with some releases (see: Golladay). That, combined with Daboll’s coaching and hopefully developing building blocks in the likes of Thibodeaux, Thomas, Neal, and Azeez Ojulari should be the source of Giants fans’ excitement for 2022. Wins and Saquon Barkley doing something unbelievable once a week? A bonus! 

This is a team in transition. The quarterback of the future is probably not on this roster, and a lot of the pieces that will lead this team into whatever the next era of Giants football looks like are not on this roster. And that’s okay.

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Alonso Cervera-Pizana