The Giants 2019 season mercifully comes to an end on December 29, 2019. Presumably, at some point either the next day or in that week, the media will finally hear from general manager Dave Gettleman, a principal architect in a season that has been mostly devoid of joy for the Giants fan base.
Gettleman has not spoken to the media since before the start of training camp, and a lot has happened since. The team is potentially looking at starting over with a coaching staff for which a strong argument can be made failed to develop some of the talents on the roster.
But this isn't all on the coaching staff. There have been decisions made by Gettleman that have been headscratchers.
While Gettleman will probably get at least another year to continue the work he's started, there is still a matter of being accountable to the fan base, which spends its hard-earned money to support the team.
Here is a look at some of the most pressing of those questions likely to be asked.
You've spoken about a team being able to rebuild and compete at the same time. In hindsight, did you misjudge the talent on this team?
Gettleman will deny this. If he agrees he miscalculated, it would be a damning statement regarding his ability as a talent evaluator.
But it's hard to argue with results. Whether you believe the Giants are better than a three-win team; or that the Giants simply didn't have the talent to be more competitive; or that the team simply chose to appease the fan base by saying that it could be competitive while knowing that there would be rough waters ahead, there probably isn't going to be an answer Gettleman can give that satisfies the disgruntled fans.
Gettleman will point to the progress made by a handful of young players--rookies Daniel Jones, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, Dexter Lawrence, and (before his injury) Ryan Connelly.
He'll also likely point to the progress made by Dalvin Tomlinson and the promise second-year cornerback Sam Beal has shown, And there might even be a mention of Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley, and a few others.
But having individual bright spots does not translate into having a winning team, and even Gettleman will surely admit that there is still a lot of work to be done on this roster.
Do you feel you sacrificed talent for the sake of culture?
This topic has become a sticking point. Gettleman dumped Odell Beckham Jr, Damon Harrison, and Olivier Vernon via trades.
He let Landon Collins walk out the door (though he's projected to get a third-round comp pick in next year's draft) as a free agent and sign with the Redskins.
Last week he cut Janoris Jenkins after he used an insensitive word in a social media exchange with a fan and then failed to apologize for it. Jenkins likely wasn't in the team's plans in 2020 after the Giants loaded up on young corners the last two years. Gettleman would have been better off getting something--anything--for Jenkins at the trade deadline.
The Giants locker room is filled with a lot of good people who are professionals and courteous. But goodness and professionalism don't automatically coincide with talent, skill, and ability.
Let's be realistic. There are going to be characters in every locker room. It shouldn't matter if an athlete is a character or is outspoken so long as he shows up to do his job and does it on Sunday.
Why trade for Leonard Williams when you might have been able to compete for him in free agency given your projected salary cap space while at the same time being able to retain your draft capital?
This is certain to be among the first questions Gettleman receives because it has so many layers that don't make sense (and which can generate follow-up questions), that it's maddening.
Gettleman did provide some insight into his thinking on this trade through an interview with the team's web site, saying, among other things, “Leonard is not just a run defender, not just a pass rusher. He’s a legitimate three-down player.”
He also pointed out that the variety of defensive linemen the team now has gives them a stronger rotation that allows for the coaches to keep everyone fresh late into the game.
But what Gettleman never addressed in the team-produced interview was why he didn't just wait for Williams to become a free agent in March and try to sign him then, allowing him to hold on to the valuable draft picks he surrendered in the Giants first-ever trade with the crosstown Jets: A third-rounder in 2020 and, in 2021, a conditional fifth that turns into a fourth if the Giants sign Williams to an extension.
The only logical reason Gettleman might give is the trade gives him an exclusive period to negotiate with Williams before free agency begins on March 18.
The Giants either will look bad by overpaying Williams to keep him off the market; or pay him big money once he becomes a free agent; or not paying him and having nothing to show in 2020 after giving up a premium draft pick that will liekly fall within the top 10 slots of the round.
Certainly before making the trade, one would hope that Gettleman had a conversation with Williams' agents (with the Jets' blessing, of course) to get an idea what kind of contract the 25-year old might want.
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But money aside, here is the other dilemma. With it looking more and more like the coaching staff is going to be swept out after the season, who's to say how the next staff, assuming that there is indeed anew staff, might envision Williams' role?
That answer could ultimately influence how Williams is paid, which makes the decision to trade for him even more head-scratching.
As for the draft capital, the Giants still need a lot of talent before it will be able to compete. They don't have a reliable backup offensive tackle who might one day follow Nate Solder. They need another inside linebacker. They could probably use another fast receiver, and they need to add more depth along the offensive line and at safety.
How valuable would that third-round pick they gave up for Williams- have been in addressing at least one of those concerns?
Granted, the Giants could get a comp pick in 2021 if they can't re-sign Williams, but what good would that do them for 2020?
Were you on board with Pat Shurmur's decision to toss Daniel Jones into the fire after just two weeks of the regular season?
Let's get something straight. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones had to get playing experience this year--and not just a handful of mop-up duty snaps, either.
But after talking all off-season and then beyond about the "Kansas City model" in which Patrick Mahomes sat for most of his rookie season behind Alex Smith, it's fair to wonder if the Giants turned to Jones too soon if the goal was to be competitive.
Had the Giants run the "Giants model" of 2004, where they rookie Eli Manning sit for a little more than half the season before replacing starter Kurt Warner when the Giants were 5-4 and in playoff contention, perhaps that might have given them the best of both worlds.
Gettleman will likely say Shurmur thought Jones was ready to start. Now that might raise a follow-up question as to why the Giants kept Manning and his $23.2 million cap hit.
But that's an easy one. At the time the Giants didn't know if they'd be able to get Jones in the draft and they had already paid Manning his $5 million roster bonus and they didn't want to restructure and add years to his contract to lower his cap charge.
Revisiting the Pat Shurmur hire, you referred to him as an "adult." In retrospect, what made you think he was the right man football-wise to lead this team out of the dark days given his history?
Gettleman will probably defend his description of Shurmur and will point to how the players didn't quit on the head coach and how the locker room culture (there's that word again) was better than ever.
An argument can be made that circumstances were stacked against Shurmur in Cleveland, such as not having an off-season in 2011 due to the lockout, an unstable ownership situation, and not enough solid talent with which to work.
Those excuses though weren't part of Shurmur's tenure with the Giants, and yet he still has only managed to win eight games thus far in his two-season stint with this team with no chance of improving on his 2018 record.
Regardless of the circumstances behind this year's failures, that's not enough progress from a head coach who's now in his second rodeo as a head coach.
With next year being the final one of the current CBA, how might that affect your roster rebuilding plans?
This question is a little outside of the box and chances are Gettleman is going to say there will be no effect whatsoever since that's off in the distance, but here's why this is a valid question.
When the last CBA ended after the 2010 season, the new CBA that took effect reduced the salary cap figure from $137.5 million (in 2009, the last capped year of that CBA) to $120 million (the first year of the current CBA).
As such, teams had to scramble to adjust contracts to get under the new salary cap, which meant contract restructurings, roster cuts, and a lot of dead money.
This time around, things are going to be a little different. For one, the 2020 league year, the last of the current CBA is capped, unlike ten years ago when it was not (which is why some teams went on a spending free-for-all to take advantage of that uncapped year).
Fortunately for the Giants, they managed their cap well leading up to the uncapped year and in anticipating the possibility of a lower cap for the first year of the new CBA.
According to Spotrac, they ended up with $4.394 in dead money in 2011 against the $121.4 million salary-cap figure they had (the league's $120 million base plus some postseason accounting that had carried over).
The early expectation is that the league won't see another dip as they did at the start of the current CBA. But there are other questions that general managers might have to allow for in their management of the cap such as guaranteed money, rookie signing pools, a potential longer regular season, among other issues.
Until everything is finalized, there might need to be a little more caution exercised in how contracts are structured--unless there is a grace period of sorts in this next CBA that grandfathers in all contracts entered into before the expiration of the current CBA.
If there's one thing we can count on, it's that Gettleman's post-season press conference will be entertaining. Here's hoping that this one coming up has some answers for a fan base that has had its heart broken too many times of late by this franchise.