The Giants are a disaster, and they need a plan for how to clean up this mess.
Here are suggestions for John Mara, Steve Tisch, Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur on how to proceed on all the key issues for the rest of this lost 2018 season, the offseason and beyond.
ELI MANNING: UNDERSTAND IT’S OVER
Determine that this is Manning’s final season as a Giant. Resolve to release him this offseason, to save $17 million and eat $6.2 million in dead money in 2019. Manning, 37, technically could take a huge pay cut and tell the Giants he doesn’t want to retire and would welcome the opportunity to mentor his successor. But that’s not how I see Manning’s career ending.
I especially don’t think it’d be ideal for Manning’s final appearance to be in 2019 as a backup, entering if a starter got hurt, for example, and mopping up meaninglessly. No. The Giants must collaborate on a plan of how to handle Manning’s exit, both on when they intend to take him out of games this season and on how they all want it to end for him: ceremoniously, meaningfully, in a way that honors his contributions but also says goodbye for good.
Explain it clearly to Manning so he understands and feels a part of the plan. Do not deviate (ownership) once the plan is created. Start giving rookie QB Kyle Lauletta some practice snaps with the starters immediately. Get Lauletta ready to play if necessary by Week 10 at San Francisco on Monday night Nov. 12. Coming out of the Week 9 bye, Lauletta should be active.
MANNING’S SUCCESSOR: FIND HIM
The 2019 free agent QB class is underwhelming, led by Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater. The Eagles’ Nick Foles, if he exercised his player option, would be the best fit as a short-term stop gap since he played for Shurmur when he was an offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, has Super Bowl pedigree and is mobile enough to extend plays.
But more importantly the Giants need to find their next franchise QB. And holding a high draft pick for a second straight season, that means setting their sights on the college kids, led by Oregon junior Justin Herbert, a 6-6, 233-pound biology major.
ODELL BECKHAM JR.: TRADE, TOLERANCE
The No. 1 question I heard from fans after Thursday’s loss was whether the Giants can trade OBJ because they’ve had enough of his drama (these were the same fans who doubted trade talks in the spring, right? Just checking). I’m here to tell you in the short-term he won’t be traded.
The Giants just gave OBJ a $20 million signing bonus which they have spread for cap purposes over five years of his contract extension, and that money would roll up on them in a lump sum if they traded him — just like Jason Pierre-Paul’s $20 million signing bonus rolled up on them in $15 million of dead money this season after his trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That said, I believe Giants brass already is fed up with Beckham’s act and have to be kicking themselves for not completing a trade after talking about that possibility with the L.A. Rams and creating a market last spring. They knew it could be time to move on and then they didn’t pull the trigger.
You already could make an argument that both of them would have been better off with a trade, based on Beckham saying he’s not happy in New York, how far Gettleman set back this franchise by sticking by Manning this offseason, and how angry the Giants are with OBJ.
In the short term, though, there is only way to proceed with OBJ: a zero tolerance policy, which is basically what they just applied in reaction to Beckham’s ESPN interview, short of a suspension.
And eventually, no, a trade in the years to come wouldn’t surprise me at all, especially because the Giants likely don’t even have their future franchise QB in the building yet and Beckham is signed through 2023.
REST OF ROSTER: CLEAR OUT COSTS, UNDERPERFORMERS
Janoris Jenkins ($14.7 million cap hit next two years), Damon Harrison ($8.6 million, $10.8 million) and Olivier Vernon ($19.5 million x 2) all are making a lot of money on a defense that can’t get it done. Jenkins’ effort is unacceptable, and though he plays an important position, I wouldn’t mind trading him before the Oct. 30 deadline. I think it’s time.
The Giants have zero pass rush and Vernon is a great player when healthy, so I think he sticks. Harrison also is a strong run stopper when healthy but might not be in long-term plans. Landon Collins will need to be paid this offseason, too, so the Giants need to make the hard choices on where they’re committing their resources.
Nate Solder and Will Hernandez aren’t going anywhere on the left side of the O-line, but the Giants essentially need a center, right guard and right tackle, too, among other needs.
MESSAGE TO GIANTS: TAKE EMOTION OUT OF IT
Mara and Giants brass have erred terribly, especially with last year’s Manning decisions, by letting these decisions become too emotional. They need to take the names off the board and simply evaluate the players based on all relevant factors — cost, effort, value, performance — and then make the calls no matter how painful or difficult. This especially goes for how they proceed with Manning. It will be less painful than repeating mistakes and ending up right back where they started again next season.
HYDRATION: FIND SOME HIGH QUALITY H2O
The Giants keep a large station of Gatorade coolers and water between their benches on the sidelines, but clearly it isn’t enough. Beckham now has gone into the locker room early before halftime for an I.V. due to dehydration or cramping at two different home games, Week 1 against Jacksonville and Week 6 against Philadelphia. Clearly they need more fluids on the sidelines.
So here are some suggestions: add two or three more strategically-placed hydration stations to the sideline, and look into whether in the year 2018, science has been able to figure out a way to administer a medical I.V. remotely. Also investigate switching sponsors to Powerade or 7-11’s Electrolit (two for $4!), or hire a waterboy.