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Quarterback Carousel could help Giants find draft trade partner


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sorry for the copy/paste.  It’s from the athletic so I couldn’t link it.  
 

 

Quarterback carousel could help Giants find draft trade partner, James Bradberry update and more notes

 

By Dan Duggan 3h ago

The NFL Draft is less than five weeks away, so that will move to the center of attention for the Giants after a quiet free-agency period.

Here are some thoughts on where the Giants stand during this pivotal time in general manager Joe Schoen’s first offseason:

• The quarterback carousel has been spinning like crazy this offseason. The Giants have been bystanders, intent on giving Daniel Jones one more shot, but they still may wind up winners. That’s because the Giants have been open to trading back in the first round — they hold the fifth and seventh picks — but they’ve needed to find a team willing to move up for a quarterback.

That door opened when Deshaun Watson surprisingly waived his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland. The Panthers, who pick sixth, and the Falcons, who pick eighth, were in the sweepstakes for Watson. Now, they’re left with stopgap options, who at best, could serve as placeholders for rookie quarterbacks.

After failing to land Watson, the Falcons shipped Matt Ryan to the Colts. Atlanta then quickly signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year, $18.8 million contract that has an easy exit after this season. Sam Darnold remains atop the Panthers’ quarterback depth chart, but it seems unlikely that they’ll try that experiment again. And the Seahawks, who have the ninth pick, need a long-term answer after trading franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos.

After months of pundits panning this quarterback class, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett are suddenly being touted as potential top-10 picks. That’s great news for the Giants, especially because teams know they’ll need to get ahead of Carolina to ensure their top choice at quarterback.

Of course, teams desperate for a quarterback may trade up further than No. 5 to avoid leaving anything to chance. That would still be good news for the Giants, as it would push a blue-chip prospect at another position down the board.

• One pre-draft tip: Don’t overreact to attendance at pro days. There’s nothing else going on in the NFL right now, so scouts and coaches from every team are traversing the country to get a closer look at draft prospects. So the Giants sending their offensive line coach to a pro day doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to draft an offensive lineman from that school.

Now, it is worth taking note of which pro days general manager Joe Schoen attends. He’s been at Georgia, Ohio State and Cincinnati so far, with a trip to Alabama next Wednesday likely on his calendar.

It’s fun to imagine that everything NFL staffers do at this time of year is part of an elaborate smokescreen. But Schoen’s time is too precious to waste disguising his interests. It’s far more important for him to get to know prospects he could draft. So that he reportedly had dinner with Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner the night before Cincinnati’s pro day should be viewed as further confirmation that the cornerback is a serious possibility for one of the Giants’ top-10 picks.

One more thing to keep in mind: Just because Schoen or someone else from the Giants attends a pro day, that doesn’t mean they’ll leave with a favorable impression. Sometimes that extra exposure can hurt a prospect’s stock.

That was the case a year ago when former Giants coach Joe Judge traveled to Miami’s pro day. The Giants needed an edge rusher, but Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau had a poor showing that knocked him down the team’s draft board. In an interesting twist, Schoen’s Bills took Rousseau with the 30th pick and he had four sacks as a rookie.

• The James Bradberry watch continues. As ESPN reported, the Giants are willing to eat some of the cornerback’s $13.5 million salary to facilitate a trade. That demonstrates how determined Schoen is to get something in return for Bradberry, whose $21.9 million cap hit is untenable for the cap-strapped Giants.

If the Giants trade Bradberry without taking any of the salary off the acquiring team’s hands, they’ll create $12.1 million in cap savings. They’d gain $10.1 million in cap savings if they cut him because $2 million of his salary became guaranteed when the new league year began on March 16 (the Giants would recoup that $2 million on the 2023 cap after Bradberry signs elsewhere due to offset language in his contract).

The obstacle for Schoen is finding a team willing to part with a draft pick when it’s clear the Giants need the cap savings from dumping Bradberry. The Giants have roughly $2 million in cap space. They need $12.5 million to cover their draft class, so something has to give.

The Giants have floated that they’ll hold onto Bradberry until the start of the season, but that seems like posturing.  They’ll need to make a move before they sign their draft picks this summer unless they have another drastic plan to create cap space. There have been no extension talks to lower Bradberry’s 2022 cap hit, according to a source.

A trade will likely need to happen before, during or immediately after the draft. Schoen will be in close quarters with the other 31 general managers at the owners’ meetings next week, so that should give him ample opportunity to explore potential deals.

A potential suitor emerged this week after the Chiefs’ surprising trade of wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. That deal generated significant cap space and an abundance of draft picks for the Chiefs. Those two ingredients could pave the way to a trade for Bradberry, especially as the Chiefs look to bolster their defense against a division suddenly full of high-flying passing attacks.

• The Giants’ cap situation is so tight they were forced to restructure kicker Graham Gano’s contract last week. The move created $1.75 million in cap space, which gave the Giants breathing room to make some low-level signings.

Gano’s contract runs through 2023, but a void year was added in 2024 as part of the restructure. Gano will still become a free agent after the 2023 season, but there will be an $877,000 dead money charge left in 2024. Gano’s 2023 cap hit increased from $4.7 million to $5.5 million.

There’s little downside to making such a modest restructure with Gano, who is a near-lock to be on the 2023 roster. But it’s becoming harder to see how Schoen will avoid the “last resort” of restructuring at least one of the team’s three biggest cap hits — defensive lineman Leonard Williams ($27.3 million), wide receiver Kenny Golladay ($21.2 million) or cornerback Adoree’ Jackson ($15.3 million).

Even with a Bradberry trade covering most of the draft class, there will still be a need to create more cap space. All teams need to factor in at least an additional $1.5 million in cap space when the season starts because only the top 51 cap hits count during the offseason, whereas the full 53-man roster counts beginning in Week 1. Additionally, at least another few million is necessary for the practice squad and in-season injury replacements.

Trading running back Saquon Barkley would create $7.2 million in cap savings, but that still seems highly unlikely. Cutting or trading wide receiver Darius Slayton would create $2.5 million in cap savings, while cutting center Nick Gates could generate $2.1 million in cap savings (but that situation is complicated by his injury status).

• The new regime is tapping into familiar faces in the first phase of the rebuild. This is hardly a revolutionary approach; think of how many Cardinals defensive players were added when James Bettcher was defensive coordinator or the number of ex-Panthers signed by former general manager Dave Gettleman.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Giants have loaded up on former Bills (nine additions who spent time with Schoen and coach Brian Daboll in Buffalo) and Ravens (both defensive signings played for DC Don Martindale in Baltimore).

It makes sense to import so many players familiar with the program the new regime is installing on and off the field. The key is that all of these signings, with the exception of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, are one-year deals, and most are veterans-minimum salaries. So these players can help get the new program off the ground, but they can be replaced by upgrades when the Giants have more cap space next offseason.

• Schoen has done a far better job of appraising depth players than Gettleman, who had an inexplicable tendency to overpay backups. The most egregious examples were running back Jonathan Stewart (two years, $6.8 million) and tight end Levine Toilolo (two years, $6.2 million). But even beyond those glaring miscalculations, there was a trend of spending too much on minimum-contract-level players. Those small unforced errors add up and contribute to an unhealthy cap situation.

Perhaps it’s partly due to the dire cap situation he inherited, but Schoen has exercised far greater discipline. A good example is tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. The journeyman is currently penciled in as the Giants’ No. 1 tight end and is coming off one of his more productive seasons, so there may have been a temptation to pay a little extra to ensure the Giants landed him.

But Schoen signed Seals-Jones to a one-year, $1.2 million minimum contract. It’s a Veteran Salary Benefit (VSB) contract, so the cap hit is reduced to $1 million. Seals-Jones is a sixth-year veteran who has been pigeonholed as a minimum-salary player. It’s tough for a veteran to break out of that class after it has been established, and Schoen didn’t throw Seals-Jones a lifeline despite the Giants’ need at tight end.

Whereas Gettleman gave No. 2 running back Devontae Booker (who was a minimum-salary player in 2020) a two-year, $5.5 million contract on the first day of free agency last offseason, Schoen waited and signed Matt Breida to a VSB contract in the second wave of free agency.

Schoen cut Booker before free agency to create $2.1 million in cap savings. Schoen was able to sign Breida and Seals-Jones with the space created by Booker’s release.

• The Giants have a clear template for their signings in free agency. Aside from Taylor (two years, $11 million), guard Mark Glowinski (three years, $18.3 million) and center Jon Feliciano (one year, $3.25 million), the Giants have leaned heavily on VSB contracts. Seven players — Seals-Jones, Breida, offensive lineman Matt Gono, offensive lineman Korey Cunningham, offensive lineman Jamil Douglas, defensive end Jihad Ward and long snapper Casey Kreiter — have been signed to VSB deals.

Seals-Jones, Douglas, Ward and Kreiter received essentially the same contract terms: $200,000 of their $1.035 million minimum salary guaranteed plus an additional $152,500 in guaranteed bonuses for a total of $352,000 guaranteed. Breida ($302,500), Gono ($200,000) and Cunningham ($0) got less guaranteed. And again, these contracts will only count $1.05 million against the cap due to the VSB exception.

• None of the Giants’ signings qualify as risks since the contracts are so cheap, but there are some injury concerns with the new additions.

Glowinski has been durable, starting 46 games over the past three seasons for the Colts, which is important since he was the biggest investment of the offseason. But Feliciano (15 missed games in the past two seasons), Gono (missed all of last season with a shoulder injury) and Breida (a fixture on the injury report throughout his five-year career) arrive with medical red flags. The injury concerns are a consequence of shopping the clearance rack.

• A closer look at Sterling Shepard’s new contract: The wide receiver was due to have a $12.5 million cap hit this season, but his cap hit dropped to $6.3 million after he accepted a steep pay cut.

Shepard will receive $2 million fully guaranteed ($1.5 million base salary and $500,000 signing bonus). He can earn up to $3.25 million more if he’s healthy and productive.

Shepard has a $250,000 workout bonus, which is a lock to be earned if he simply continues rehabilitating his torn Achilles at the team’s facility during the offseason program. He’ll earn a $44,117 bonus for every game he’s active, so he can make $750,000 if he plays all 17 games. He also has $2.25 million in unspecified incentives for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Had the Giants cut Shepard, they would have created $4.5 million in cap savings. So they actually saved $1.7 million on this year’s cap by keeping the veteran receiver. The tradeoff is if the Giants cut Shepard, he’d be off the books in 2023. Instead, they will carry a $4.2 million dead money charge for Shepard in 2023.

For perspective, veteran slot receiver Jamison Crowder recently signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bills. Almost all of that $2 million is guaranteed, and Crowder can earn another $2 million in unspecified incentives.

So for the Giants to add a comparable receiver if they cut Shepard, they would have invested $10 million on this year’s cap (Shepard’s $8 million dead money charge plus Crowder’s cap hit). Instead, they kept Shepard at a $6.3 million cap hit. The catches are that Shepard is coming back from a major injury and dead money was pushed into the future, but the organization clearly values the 2016 second-round pick, and the calculations weighed out to keep him.

• As expected, the market has been slow to develop for most of the Giants’ free agents. The biggest surprise has been the two-year, $14 million contract defensive tackle Austin Johnson signed with the Chargers.

That deal was initially reported as being worth “up to” $14 million, which often means the value has been inflated by an agent and the true value is actually much lower. But a look under the hood shows that Johnson’s contract is legit, with $10.6 million guaranteed. Johnson is an example of a prove-it deal paying off, as he signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Giants last offseason (a year after arriving in New York on a one-year, $1.5 million deal).

Linebacker Lorenzo Carter is hoping to follow the same path, as he signed a modest one-year, $3.5 million contract with $2 million guaranteed with the Falcons. The Giants reportedly were interested in retaining Carter, but they weren’t willing (or able) to match that contract. They seemingly then pivoted to a minimum contract for Ward.

• The Giants are currently projected to receive two compensatory picks in the 2023 draft: a fifth-rounder due to tight end Evan Engram’s one-year, $9 million contract with the Jaguars and a seventh-rounder from cornerback Keion Crossen’s three-year, $9.5 million deal with the Dolphins. The Johnson and Carter departures were canceled out in the comp pick formula by the signings of Glowinski and Taylor.

The fifth-round pick for Engram seems secure since the Giants don’t figure to make any signings that will cancel that out. The seventh-rounder for Crossen is more tenuous since there’s a cap of 32 comp picks awarded by the league, so a few bigger signings by other teams could push that pick off the grid.

• With Carter’s exit, Barkley is the last man standing from the 2018 draft class. When examining Gettleman’s failure, look no further than his first draft class having only one player still with the team four years later.

 

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That's my thinking as well.

The Giants are lucky because teams are going to covet Willis who by all accounts had a great combine and pro day, and Pickett who magically made his hands grow 6 inches, someone is going to want that #5 or #7 pick.

Granted it sucks because it means we miss out on a top 10 guy, but we could be looking at some decent capitol next year.

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I like this article.  Have a hard time understanding all the love still for Barkley being an old Giants fan from 1968.  I have seen too many overpaid RB/HB/FB in my 54 years of watching football to love any guy carrying the ball after being handed off from the QB.  These guys take a pounding all throughout games and you have to get value from the position.  This is something that Barkley has not shown the past two years.  Too much money invested in him.  It is good to see Giants not overpaying journeyman talent even when they do well.  If they get a better contract, then let them walk.  They won't help you win a Superbowl anyway IMHO.

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On 3/25/2022 at 4:04 PM, BlueInCanada said:

That's my thinking as well.

The Giants are lucky because teams are going to covet Willis who by all accounts had a great combine and pro day, and Pickett who magically made his hands grow 6 inches, someone is going to want that #5 or #7 pick.

Granted it sucks because it means we miss out on a top 10 guy, but we could be looking at some decent capitol next year.

I think if we pick in the teens, we'll just pick whoever slides. We can still grab some nice talent there and we literally need an entirely new roster. 

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1 hour ago, Sephiroth said:

I think if we pick in the teens, we'll just pick whoever slides. We can still grab some nice talent there and we literally need an entirely new roster. 

I feel like this draft is rich in guys we'd be content with in the 5-10 pick range but would be absolutely thrilled to draft in that 10 - 24 area. 

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