This afternoon the New York Football Giants will square up against the Pigeons of Philadelphia. The record will reflect a subpar season for New York as they enter the last contest of their season with a 4-11 record. Even with that record though they can potentially knock Philly out of the playoffs.
With the season wrapping up eyes are now turning to the off-season. So the question is, exactly how far away are the Giants from being a playoff contender? The answer: Not as far away as their record would indicate.
Win or lose they’ll possess a top 10 pick in the spring’s NFL Draft being held in Las Vegas. Just like the other millions of visitors to Sin City, the Giants will hope to get lucky. The 2019 draft saw embattled General Manager David Gettlemen hit on more than a couple of picks. Granted, when you go all in to get three first round picks, you’re expected to come away with a bounty.
They’ll also have the benefit of a third place schedule. While the schedule has yet to be announced we do know who they’ll play. Their home games will include: Washington, Arizona, San Francisco, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Philly, and whomever finishes third in the NFC south amongst Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Carolina (at the moment it could be any of the three). Of those 8 games, its likely only 2 will include teams to make the playoffs this year.
Their road schedule isn’t a juggernaut either. They’ll be traveling to play the Redskins, Seahawks, Eagles, Bears, Rams, Bengals, Cowboys, and Ravens. Now, the ebb and flow of the NFL power rankings fluctuates so much from year to year that you never know. This could be an INCREDIBLY hard schedule next year, or it could be a cake walk. But if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the Giants having a real opportunity to improve their record next year.
Some fans have been noted as calling for a change of regime moving into the new year, with a popular name being ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. The former NFL safety and scout is certainly familiar with the NFC landscape having had jobs in the Eagles and Redskins front offices previously.
At the very least, even if Gettleman is permitted to continue running the front office, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Head Coach Pat Shurmer replaced. Keep in mind that the hot name being thrown around for coaching searches is recently let go former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who has a previous relationship with Gettleman.
Even if the Giants do make strides in 2020, with Daniel Jones entering the season as their quarterback with a year’s worth of experience under his belt, can they contend for the playoffs? Of course. Mediocrity is the name of the game in the NFC East. The last quarter of the season has seen the Eagles and Cowboys play a game of hot potato with the division’s designated playoff spot as it feels like both teams are doing their best to make a January tee time.
So lets take a look at how the roster could be shaking out. With 29 players on the roster set to become free agents, there could be a lot of names on the move:
2020 Free Agents that SHOULD be let free:
- Buck Allen – Running Back
- Corey Coleman – Wide Receiver
- Cody Core – Wide Receiver
- Garrett Dickerson – Tight End
- Amba Etta Tawo- Wide Receiver
- Eli Manning – Quarterback
- Elijhaa Penny – Running Back
- Da’Mari Scott – Wide Receiver
- Isaiah Seawright – Tight End
- Russell Shepard – Wide Receiver
- Scott Simonson – Tight End
- Chad Slade – Offensive Guard
- Eric Smith – Offensive Tackle
- Alex Tanney – Quarterback
- Sean Chandler – Safety
- DeVante Downs – Linebacker
- Grant Healey – Safety
- Antonio Hamilton – Cornerback
- Michael Thomas – Safety
- Colin Hoba – Long Snapper
2020 Free Agents that should be re-signed in a Bob Barker world… If The Price Is Right
- Jon Halapio – Center: The former Florida Gator has been injury prone during his Giants’ tenure, but if the price is right, it’d be nice to have the interior lineman back as continuity is big with line play
- Cody Latimer – Wide Receiver: Not the flashiest of receivers, he a solid 4/5 option on the depth chart, but his true value is that he is n upper echelon special teams contributor.
- Mike Remmers- Offensive Tackle: Its taken the Giants years to build up some semblance of a competent offensive line. Not sure you want to put all your eggs in the Remmers basket, but at worst he’s a nice depth piece that helped in 2019.
- Deone Bucannon – Linebacker: The former safety turned linebacker has bounced around the last few years. It shouldn’t take a brinks truck back up to retain Deone.
- Markus Golden – Linebacker: Golden will be one of the Giants’ top priorities this off-season with regards to player retention. He’s provided a nice source of pass rush pressure since coming over from Arizona last off season.
- David Mayo – Linebacker: Mayo is an unsung hero amongst the Giants defensive players. A solid, steady option amongst the inside backer crew, Mayo should be someone they’re looking to keep around
- Leonard Williams – Defensive End: The deadline deal trade that brought Williams from the Jets cost the Giants a 2020 third round pick and a 2021 fifth rounder. Thats a lot to pay for a half season of play when you’re not really expecting to make a legitimate playoff push. All that points to the Giants having every intention of keeping Williams long term.
- Zack DeOssie – Long Snapper: The Career Giant, whose father also played for the Giants spent too much time on IR this year, but it shouldn’t cost a bunch to retain this steady player.
- Aldrick Rosas – Kicker: NFL kicker play is so fickle now a days (with a few limited exceptions) that it seems everyone is just playing a game of musical chairs with their kicker. If you find one that works, and it doesn’t break the bank to keep him, do it.
And of course any list you see now of potential free agents in the NFL means nothing. You’ll see a TON of guys cut in cap savings moves. You’ll see guys hit with the Franchise Tag. And you’ll see guys extended before hitting the market.
Even though the Giants will have plenty of cap space this off season, are there any guys who could be potential cap casualties? Players who have contracts that don’t match their expected production? Sure, we’ve got three names to consider:
Candidates to be cut, or restructured?
- Alec Ogletree – Linebacker: One of the big acquisitions of spring 2018, the linebacker, if cut, would provide a savings of about $8.25 million. If it came down to keeping Ogletree, or having money to re-sign Golden…
- Rhett Ellison – Tight End: With the late emergence of Kaden Smith as a viable 2nd tight end, is it worth the money for Ellison? Cutting him would save about $5 million.
- Nate Solder – Left Tackle: Since being made the highest paid offensive lineman in history during the spring 2018 free agency period Solder has dissapointed over and over again. He hasn’t been horrible, but he hasn’t been the Pro-Bowl anchor level player you’d expect for that money. He’s owed a big chunk of change, and cutting him would create a bunch of dead money, but it would save about $6.5 million this year. The question becomes, is there a better option available?
So with a large number of free agents on the roster, who is left over? What’s left over is the building blocks of a future playoff squad. Guys like Quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, receivers Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton. Tight End Evan Engram is a keeper, as is offensive line mauler Will Hernandez. On the defensive side some names to build your unit around include secondary players DeAndre Baker, and Jabrill Peppers. The rotund but surprisingly agile Dexter Lawrence in the middle of the line, with Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines providing outside pressure.
Lets review whats left in the locker room when everyone clears out.
- Daniel Jones
- Saquon Barkley
- Wayne Gallman
- Sterling Shepard
- Golden Tate
- Darius Slayton
- David Sills
- Evan Engram
- Kaden Smith
- Rhett Ellison
- Nate Solder
- Kevin Zeitler
- Will Hernandez
- Spencer Pulley
- Nick Gates
- George Asafo Adjei
- DeAndre Baker
- Sam Beal
- Julian Love
- Cory Ballentine
- Rashaan Golden
- Jabrill Peppers
- Antoine Bethea
- Lorenzo Carter
- Oshane Ximines
- Kareem Martin
- Alec Ogletree
- Ryan Connolly
- Mark McLaurin
- Chris Peace
- Josiah Tauaefa
- Dexter Lawrence
- BJ Hill
- Dalvin Tomlinson
- RJ McIntosh
- Nate Harvey
- Chris Slayton
- Riley Dixon – Punter
The final piece of the roster building puzzle before you move into the draft, after you’ve reviewed what you have, what you want to keep, is to go shopping for other team’s players. With plenty of cap space available the Giants can afford to go big game hunting. Who are some targets they need to be making phone calls on?
FREE AGENCY TARGETS:
- Amari Cooper- Wide Receiver – The chance to add the premier wide receiver on the market, someone youthful enough to fit with your contending timeline, while also crippling a divisional foe? If the Cowboys are forced to use the tag on Dak Prescott, the Giants should make a HUGE push to bring in Cooper, giving young signal caller Daniel Jones a true number one receiver.
- DJ Humphries- Tackle- Ultimately I don’t see Humphries hitting the open market, but if he does he is absolutely someone the Giants would need to consider. Either as a replacement to Nate Solder, or as the other bookend.
- Daryl Williams – Tackle – The Panther will likely be on the move this off-season. He wouldn’t be a foundational piece, but he’d be a nice player to add to the offensive line mix.
- Connor McGovern – Center – As mentioned before, Halapio has been injury prone, and even when healthy is just okay. Bringing in the Broncos center would be a nice move. He’ll be in high demand, but as mentioned, the Giants have cap space, and a premier running back should be a nice draw for potential offensive line additions.
- Michael Brockers – Defensive Line – The Rams need to re-sign Jalen Ramsey, as a result Michael Brockers should be allowed to see the open market, some thing Los Angeles has to know will result in him getting paid by someone. The big bodied end would add some nice veteran experience to a front seven that is youthful.
- Derek Wolfe – Defensive End – Everything said about Brockers and his experience being helpful would apply to the Broncos defensive end. He’s had injury issues, but shouldn’t be a bank breaker.
- Blake Martinez – Inside Linebacker – The Packers have an improved defense after a few key free agent acquisitions. But should they let their home grown inside backer hit the market he’d be a nice youthful upgrade to Alec Ogletree.
So as we move into the off season, which starts for most teams by nightfall tonight, we see that the Giants have some nice offensive weapons. They could use some tooling on the offensive line, and have the building blocks in place for a playoff level defense. In the NFC East, that puts them in prime position to make a push in 2020. It’ll be interesting to see what moves they feel need to be made.
- Written by Jason Sullivan
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