Kyler Murray to the NFL. Kareem Hunt to the Browns. Antonio Brown to anywhere but Pittsburgh. Joe Flacco to the Broncos. Odell Beckham Jr. to be traded? The NFL’s offseason is heating up.
And the question isn’t if the Giants will make a splash but when. We dive in to the possibilities in this week’s Giants Mailbag.
Question from @tnaukkis: “Who is gonna be a shocker to not return? Landon Collins maybe a goner? Hope not.”
If there is a shocking departure, Beckham is the leading candidate for a second straight offseason. The Giants had serious OBJ trade talks last spring. Then they reportedly took calls on Beckham at last fall’s trade deadline even after re-signing him long-term. And on Wednesday, Jay Glazer’s bold NFL offseason prediction in The Athletic was Beckham will be traded this offseason.
This should not shock anyone aware of the Giants’ recent history with Beckham, including last season’s drama connected to declining QB Eli Manning, whom the Giants appear to be bringing back for 2019. And Dave Gettleman’s presence as GM matters, given his history with Josh Norman in Carolina, his handling of Beckham, and the GM’s need to address a lack of talent and depth across this Giants roster.
Keep an eye, as I’ve said before, on the Oakland (soon-to-be Las Vegas) Raiders, who own three first-round picks (Nos. 4, 24 and 27), lack a stud wide receiver and need a superstar to lead them into Sin City in 2020. Also watch the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers and perhaps the Indianapolis Colts, though I think the Steelers’ Antonio Brown will land in San Fran.
Collins isn’t going anywhere. Even if the Giants don’t want to sign him long-term yet, they can franchise tag the Pro Bowl strong safety for around $11.5 million on a one-year deal. And that’s a no-brainer because he’s a defensive captain, an excellent player and the Giants defense doesn’t have enough talent to lose him. Collins also said he’d play on the tag.
Question from @daveydod: “Rank the top QBs from last year and this year together.”
At the time of their draft, I believe Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen were better than any of the QBs in this current class, at least as far as readiness to compete at the pro level. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins does intrigue me, given his talent, maturity and intelligence. And I also believe Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray will fare better in the NFL than many believe. Throw in N.C. State’s Ryan Finley as someone who intrigues me more and more, as well. But the bottom line is Mayfield and Darnold are the cream of the crop even including this year. Then I’d say Rosen was more polished coming out but Haskins has a chance to assert himself if he continues to develop.
Question from @pjays13: “Are the Giants really serious about drafting Haskins?”
They’re serious about scouting him – and all quarterbacks – in this draft, but I don’t know yet if they’re serious about drafting Haskins. I continue to believe that if Manning is coming back, Gettleman and Shurmur (and Manning) would prefer to use the No. 6 overall pick on a player who can help the team win now. A Beckham trade to Oakland makes sense in this plan because if the Giants could get the Raiders’ 24th pick in a package, for example, they could draft a pass rusher or O-lineman at six and still get a QB they like in the late first-round. If John Mara stresses to Gettleman that he wants Haskins as a Manning heir, perhaps then the Giants GM drafts the Ohio State QB at No. 6 if he’s on the board. But if Mara leaves it to Gettleman, I continue to believe he’s using that pick on a different position.
Question from @William26969984: “Do you think that the Giants draft Haskins at six or trade up to get him?”
If the Giants are all-in on Haskins, I could see Gettleman trading up for the first time in his history as a GM. In fact, he probably would have to trade up to get Haskins, given the hysteria now building around Haskins and the many teams looking for a franchise QB this year, including Jacksonville, Miami and Washington. To me it’s all or nothing. Either they decide Haskins is a can’t-miss prospect and they do whatever it takes to get him, or they aren’t 100 percent confident in him and they go another direction. Never forget this, though: Gettleman constantly says he always takes the best player available when he’s on the clock. And while the Giants need to find Manning’s successor, there aren’t many people who believe Haskins is even close to the sixth-best player in this class, though he’s certainly worthy of a first rounder.
Question from @acuneo: “How much cap space do you think the Giants will have as they pare down the roster? And which free agents could they target?”
The Giants have $28.2 million in salary cap space at the moment, per overthecap.com, and the amount of space they’ll have at the start of free agency on March 13 will depend on how drastically Gettleman acts. Trading Beckham ($21 million cap number) would incur a $16 million dead money charge but would create $5 million in cap savings for 2019. Restructuring Manning’s contract by adding a 2020 dummy year also could create around $7-8 million in 2019 space. (Releasing him would create $17 million in savings, but they don’t appear prepared to do that). The Giants also could create $7.75 million by trading Janoris Jenkins and $11.5 million by dealing Olivier Vernon, but as in Collins’ case, they can’t exactly afford to take talent off their defense. Long story short: they can create some room but probably not a ton as long as they stick with Manning. Potential free agent targets? Quarterback Nick Foles (Eagles) if he gets to free agency. Right tackles Ja’Wuan James (Dolphins) and Darryl Williams (Panthers, coming off injury). Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (Texans, coming off injury). Safeties Earl Thomas (Seahawks, expensive) or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Washington). Not a full list, just some names to consider. I would name a pass rusher, but considering the strong edge draft class and Vernon’s salary, it’s more likely the Giants draft one than pay someone like the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney big bucks.
Question from @RahulBharadwajR: “Does it make sense to bring A.B. to N.Y.?”
No, it doesn’t make sense for the Giants to trade for Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown, even though he has asked out of Pittsburgh. The Giants already have a top-5 receiver with a larger-than-life personality in Beckham. And if they did trade OBJ, they wouldn’t be doing it just to fill that slot with Brown, who is expensive and would bring his own history of off-field drama to the Big Apple.
Question from @TSpiconardi: “If Arizona drafts Murray or Haskins, could you see the Giants trading next year’s #1 to Arizona for Josh Rosen? And draft a defensive stud this year?”