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Giants' High-Risk, High-Reward Plan Has Gone Up in Smoke

The Giants had a plan this off-season to build the roster into a playoff contender. Alas for them, it was a shortcut that came with a lot of risks that now look as though they'll come back to bite the team for the long-term.

On paper, the plan was too perfect not to succeed.

Open the bank vault and bring in playmakers to the offense, add a couple of pieces to upgrade an already solid defense, and then let the coaching staff, which showed so much promise under first-year head coach Joe Judge, work its magic.

The idea of this high-risk, high-reward plan was simple. The league was coming off a year in which the global pandemic took a significant bite out of its revenue, thereby forcing the annual salary cap to dip—significantly at that—for the first time in its history since 2011.

Also, the league, which negotiated new television contracts over the off-season, won’t see that windfall of money show up in the salary caps until 2023.

Hence the plan was born to go on an all-out spending spree to add the talent necessary to evaluate guys like quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, who will be eligible for contract extensions after this season. 

Toss out a bunch of one-year “show me” deals for veterans and see who is worth keeping and who isn’t, so that come the 2022 off-season where cap dollars are going to be at a premium for the Giants, and again, the plan was perfect.

Yup, the plan was too perfect not to succeed. 

Ah, but as the old saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

As part of the plan, the Giants expected results and not the 1-5 record they currently have. Apologists will point to the injuries that have wrecked the team beyond reason, and while injuries are certainly an issue, when one sees how the Baltimore Ravens are 5-1 despite having a league-leading 17 players on injured reserve, which raises a question of what the Ravens are doing differently to survive.

What the Ravens did was two-fold. First, they ensured themselves of having depth on their roster in an emergency and making sure that depth was fully coached up so that if someone had to miss time for whatever the reason, the team wouldn’t miss a beat.

The Giants? Can anyone say the defense hasn’t missed a beat since losing inside linebacker Blake Martinez, or that the receivers have been setting the league on fire even though Kenny Golladay has been on the injury list more than half the season so far, and that Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, and Darius Slayton have been ailing at points in the season as well? 

And what about the Giants running game and offensive line? Rookie draft pick Gary Brightwell is a terrific addition on special teams, yet is anyone wondering why he hasn’t gotten more opportunities at running back? 

The biggest blunder of all by the coaching staff? Treating the first two or three games of the season—all winnable ones—like an extension of the preseason after failing to get the starters more than just one half’s work of preseason work in the final preseason game no less to see what they had.

Add it all up, and you have another Giants season that, barring a miracle, is fast going down the drain. 

Here’s the saddest part of all. If this season does end up in the trash bin, it’s going to be in cap hell come 2022 when all those restructured deals and low-cost first-year deals suddenly swell. Players will have to be cut, thereby creating even more holes on a team that is still missing some impact players on both sides of the ball.

As of right now, the Giants are projected to have less than $3 million in cap space next year. That won’t even be enough to sign its projected 10-member 2022 draft class, let alone reward any of those veterans on one-year “prove it” deals who happen to be showing their worth a chance at another contract.

Good luck to whoever is sitting in the general manager’s chair next year, because this big gamble the Giants took this year—similar to what they did in 2014 and again in 2016, neither of which resulted in long-term success either—is going to take a lot of digging out from.


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