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What Draft Clues Can We Get from Giants Contracts?

Yes, player contract status is just one of the many pieces of the puzzle that general manager Dave Gettleman and the rest of the organization looks at when it comes to making draft decisions. So what can we learn from this aspect?

When it comes to finding Giants in the NFL draft, several factors are considered beyond a player's film and background.

One element that is rarely discussed yet, which general manager Dave Gettleman admitted is a factor, is the contract situation of the veterans currently on the team.

"You’re always looking at that kind of stuff," Gettleman said last week in response to a question I posed to him. "So, just for an example, if you know you’ve got a guy that’s contract is up and because of the financial aspect you decide you’re not going to do it, then sure, you may draft a player to fill the need that you know you’re going to have. So you absolutely take that into consideration."

So let's take a closer look at that angle by reviewing the Giants contract situations and depth at certain position groups and try to figure out what clues we might be able to glean into the organization's thinking when the draft kicks off Thursday night.

(All contract info per Spotrac unless otherwise noted.)


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Offensive Line

Gettleman is already on the record as saying he likes the talent he has on the offensive line. But six players on this unit--including guards Will Hernandez and Zach Fulton, center/guard Jonotthan Harrison--are set to be unrestricted free agents after this year, while offensive tackle Nate Solder is projected to have the 2022 season in his contract voided.

This means Gettleman will have to extend some deals after this season or add some more depth on this unit.

Logic says that it will be the latter scenario. A decade ago, the Giants made the mistake of trying to bleed out every last ounce of sweat from their stellar offensive line that manned the field from 2007-11 until age, and injuries began forcing each of David Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert, Kareem McKenzie, and Chris Snee into retirement.

It took the Giants until 2013 to start pouring higher premium assets into their offensive line, and by then, it was too late as quarterback Eli Manning had to bear the brunt of things.

The Giants probably won't draft an offensive lineman at No. 11 unless Penei Sewell is sitting there, as he'd be tough to pass up. Still, given the reported depth of guards, it wouldn't be surprising if the Giants plucked a guard at some point on Day 2 to develop, nor would it be surprising if they add a young center to the mix as well.

Wide Receiver

The Giants' primary objective in free agency was to ensure they put playmakers around quarterback Daniel Jones. They did just that, adding Kenny Golladay and John Ross at the receiver position to a group that will also include Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.

But there are a few things within the players' contract at this position worth noting that would indicate the Giants aren't done adding at this spot. First, Golladay, who is coming off an injury-shortened season last year, has a $250,000 per game roster bonus in just the first year of the deal. Usually, teams go for the per-game roster bonus with players coming off injuries instead of the one big lump sum roster bonus paid out within days of the contract being signed, so I found this little detail in Golladay's contract to be interesting.

Second, Shepard receives the last of his guaranteed money ($4.025 million) this year. Although he's signed through 2023, he's also missed parts of the previous two seasons due to injury, and if he ends up missing part of this coming season again, it would be tough to argue about retaining him on the roster after this season.

Ross, as we all know, is only signed to a one-year "prove it" deal. While an argument could be made that the Giants picked up a first-round talent, there is a growing facet of draft analysts who believe Ross was never a top-10 talent, which is where he was drafted.

The biggest concern with the receivers is the injury factor. What happens if Golladay, Shepard, Ross, or Darius Slayton miss time? This is why adding another receiver makes sense. If one of Jalen Waddle or Devonta Smith is there at No. 11, it would not be shocking if the Giants go in that direction (Waddle, if he's there, makes more sense as, given his play in the slot, he could be the successor to Shepard's spot).

Cornerback

Cornerback is another deceiving position group where some might question the wisdom of adding a Day 1 or Day 2 pick but where this could be a possibility. Sure, the Giants added Adoree' Jackson to the mix, and he will presumably start opposite of James Bradberry on the perimeter.

But let's look at depth. If there is an injury to either Bradberry or Jackson, who steps in as the starter? Isaac Yiadom, who had to accept a pay cut to stay? Julian Love, whom the Giants have mostly worked at safety? Darnay Holmes, their slot cornerback? Logan Ryan, who has been good at safety?

Even if the Giants don't have to deal with injuries--and let's hope they won't--adding another cornerback would give defensive coordinator Patrick Graham another chess piece in designing some creative coverage schemes that would help them pass rush out.

That's why if Patrick Surtain II somehow falls to the Giants, it might be challenging for the Giants to pass him up. Otherwise, assuming the Giants don't get a cornerback early, don't rule out their taking one later in the draft.

Running Back

The Giants have Saquon Barkley expected back from his torn ACL, but the big question that needs to be answered is whether Barkley will be able to step right in and carry a full workload right from the start.

If not, that's where Devontae Booker, whom Gettleman said is a three-down back, comes into play. Booker will likely take on the third-down back duties at first to help ease the strain on Barkley, who, by the way, should have his option year in his rookie deal exercised in time for next week's deadline.

But beyond Booker and Barkley, the Giants don't have any halfbacks with NFL experience, which is why it's no surprise to learn that the Giants have, according to ESPN, done extensive work on running backs.

Would the Giants look to add a running back as early as Day 2? That's up for debate, especially since they have other more pressing needs to look at and that the draft pick would probably be third on the depth chart behind Barkley and Booker.

But using a fourth-round pick on a running back wouldn't be a wild idea as it would give them some much-needed insurance.

Edge Rusher

Thanks to Graham's creativity, the Giants somehow got by last year with their pass rush, a group that recorded 40 sacks (tied for 12th league-wide) despite the injuries to their top edge rushers.

The truth is the Giants haven't had a solid pass rush since they unloaded Jason Pierre-Paul (their last successful edge rusher whom they drafted and developed). Since then, they haven't spent a first or second-round pick on an edge rusher instead of going third or lower.

That ultimately needs to change, especially considering how those Giants teams that made it to the playoffs did so with a deep rotation of quality edge rushers. The Giants have a pair of young homegrown talents in Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, and they added Ifeadi Odenigbo in free agency.

Both Odenigbo and Carter are signed through this year. Still, even if that wasn't the case, the Giants are likely to add to their outside linebacker group, especially if they don't feel that Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin will be anything more than just situational pass rushers.

Final Thoughts

Contract status is just one small piece of the puzzle, but it's one Gettleman acknowledged is something they look at.

"You have to look at what you’ve got, eventually who’s going to go out the door and how do you replenish," he said.

But as he also added, just because a position looks stacked both depth-wise and contract-wise doesn't mean they can't swap guys out.

"You want to always take value and I think really and truly that just because you take a guy, there’s no law against maybe flipping him or flipping the guy you already have on your roster, so it’s an asset," Gettleman said. "You don’t want to pass up good assets, you really don’t."

But a team certainly wants to have depth, and clearly, the Giants can use more at certain spots if they are indeed loading up to make a run this year.


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