10 most controversial Dave Gettleman moves during tenure as Giants GM

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Dave Gettleman treated image, biggest controversial moves
Dave Gettleman treated image, biggest controversial moves

Dave Gettleman may have whiffed on a lot of his moves during his four years as the Giants general manager, but he sure did take plenty of big swings.

Here’s a look at 10 of the biggest, most controversial moves during his tenure.

A couple of them are still "to be determined." Most of them missed:

1. Drafting RB Saquon Barkley second overall (2018)

Despite taking over a franchise with a 37-year-old QB with diminishing skills, and looking at a QB-rich draft class, Gettleman fell in love with Barkley’s "gold jacket" potential. While many decried the risk of drafting a running back so high and pumping so much money into a position with so much injury risk, Gettleman never blinked.

In his defense, the Giants had no consensus on which was the best QB in that draft – with opinions split in the organization on Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen (Baker Mayfield was taken first overall). Some in the organization did prefer G Quenton Nelson or edge rusher Bradley Chubb, but Gettleman overruled them all.

The result: A great rookie season by Barkley gave way to an injury-plagued career in which he’s missed 21 games over the last three seasons. He also looks very average now, and may never be the same after tearing his ACL last year.

Daniel Jones is selected as the No. 6 overall pick to the New York Giants in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville.
Daniel Jones is selected as the No. 6 overall pick to the New York Giants in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville.

2. Drafting QB Daniel Jones sixth overall (2019)

Gettleman once talked of how his legacy would be defined by whether he could find a QB who was a worthy successor to Eli Manning. In the 2019 draft, he settled on Jones, even passing on elite pass-rusher Josh Allen to take him.

Jones was well-regarded by scouts. The issue here was whether he was drafted too high, and whether the Giants could have gotten him with their other first-round pick – No. 17. Gettleman was convinced he couldn’t. According to sources, he believed the Denver Broncos would’ve taken Jones at 10 and that Washington wanted him at 15. The Broncos traded down from 10 shortly after the Giants took Jones, and Washington ended up taking Dwayne Haskins instead.

Jones had a promising rookie year but has been mediocre and injury-plagued since. The QB Gettleman liked the most, by the way, was Justin Herbert – but he decided to return to Oregon and wasn’t drafted until the next year.

3. Signing, and then trading, WR Odell Beckham Jr. (2019)

Just eight months after Gettleman was hired, the Giants signed their star receiver to a five-year, $95 million contract extension with $65 million in guarantees. The decision wasn’t all Gettleman’s, of course, but he seemed on board.

In fact, even after Beckham began to wear out his welcome that season, causing problems for Manning and head coach Pat Shurmur, Gettleman still seemed in Beckham’s corner. He said "We didn’t sign him to trade him" in his season-ending news conference and repeated it often.

Then, three months later, he traded him to the Cleveland Browns. The Giants got safety Jabrill Peppers, a first-round pick (which they used on DT Dexter Lawrence) and a third-round pick (LB Oshane Ximines). The Giants didn’t exactly lose the trade. Beckham had one good year in Cleveland before injuries set in, and he since talked his way into another trade (to the Los Angeles Rams). But the Giants offense has suffered in his absence. They haven’t had anything close to that kind of dynamic player since.

Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder (76) blocks in front of quarterback Eli Manning (10) during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.
Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder (76) blocks in front of quarterback Eli Manning (10) during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.

4. Signing T Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract (2018)

The offensive line Gettleman inherited was a disaster and he swore that fixing it was his priority. So he almost immediately cut Ereck Flowers, their miserable bust of a left tackle, and did what looked like the smart thing: He used free agency to sign what many considered the best tackle on the market.

But Solder, then 29 years old, never played like it. He struggled from the start of his Giants career, which eventually forced them to draft a replacement and move Solder to the right side. His contract, which included $35 million guaranteed, was so big they couldn’t cut him and nobody wanted him in a trade, so the Giants were stuck.

The intentions may have been good, but this has always stuck out as a symbol of Gettleman’s failure to fix the line.

5. Trading DE Jason Pierre-Paul (2018)

The summer before Gettleman arrived, the Giants gave JPP a four-year, $62 million contract and believed he was the cornerstone of their defense, part of their long line of great pass rushers. But Gettleman wanted to clear the contract off his books so he’d have more to spend on free agency in future years. He also viewed JPP as part of the problem with a bad locker room culture, according to a source at the time.

But the deal stunk. The Giants basically got a third-round pick and a swap of fourth-rounders in return. JPP has had 33 sacks in four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Giants have never come close to replacing him on the field.

6. Trading for LB Alec Ogletree (2018)

A strange move, even at the time, and a sign of how, in his first season, Gettleman waffled between trying to win now and building for the future. He sent fourth- and sixth-round picks to the Rams for a 27-year-old linebacker who had just signed a four-year, $42 million contract extension.

Gettleman wanted him to be his Antonio Pierce – the leader in the middle of the defense. But Ogletree looked done and was constantly hurt. He did have five interceptions in his first season in New York, but that masked how poorly he played overall.

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) walks off the field after a 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in East Rutherford.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) walks off the field after a 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in East Rutherford.

7. Signing WR Golden Tate (2019)

Shortly after trading Beckham, the Giants gave the 30-year-old Tate a three-year, $37.5 million contract with $23 million guaranteed. If that was meant to ease the sting of the Beckham deal and replace his production, it was a spectacular failure. He was suspended for the first four games of his Giants career for violating the NFL’s policy on Performance Enhancing Drugs with what he said was fertility medication, and it went downhill from there.

Tate ended up catching 84 passes for 1,064 yards and eight touchdowns over two seasons and wasn’t even a starter anymore by the time the Giants cut him loose. He hasn’t played in the NFL since.

8. Trading for DL Leonard Williams (2019)

The out-of-it Giants shocked everyone by sending third- and fifth-round picks to the Jets at the trade deadline for the disappointing Williams, who was just five months away from free agency. They even doubled-down just four months after the deal by giving him the franchise tag worth $16.1 million. And a year later, they tripled down with a three-year, $63 million contract with $45 million guaranteed.

Williams has been a good player with the Giants. He even found his pass-rushing form with 11 ½ sacks last year and another 6 ½ this year. Was he worth the money and the picks? And could the Giants have saved the picks and just waited to sign him until free agency? Those are the questions that landed Williams on this list.

Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) during the first half at MetLife Stadium.
Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) during the first half at MetLife Stadium.

9. Trading up to draft CB DeAndre Baker (2019)

After already making two picks in the first round of the 2019 draft, the Giants sent a second, fourth, and fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks to move back into the first for another pick – taking Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker at No. 30.

Gettleman’s explanation was "no guts, no glory," but many immediately criticized the move as a risk on a player with character issues. That proved true as Baker struggled through a bad rookie season in which teammates ripped him for his work ethic and knowledge of the playbook. Then, one year after he was drafted, he was arrested for his alleged role in an armed robbery in Florida.

Those charges were eventually dropped, but the Giants ended up cutting him anyway after just one ugly season. Gettleman has since insisted nothing in their pre-draft background check of Baker indicated a criminal history or serious character flaws.

10. Signing G Patrick Omameh (2018)

The journeyman guard didn’t get a big deal (just three years, $15 million with $5.5 million guaranteed), but he was another sign of how badly Gettleman failed to find his beloved "Hog Mollies." Omameh was signed to be the Giants’ starting guard, but saying he was awful doesn’t fully describe it. He ended up hurting his knee, lost his starting job, and was finally cut halfway through his first season with the team.

Other contenders

Signing RB Jonathan Stewart (two years, $6.9 million in 2018) … Signing LB Kareem Martin (three years, $15 million, in 2018) … Trading LB Markus Golden to Arizona (for a sixth-round pick, 2020) … Hiring head coach Pat Shurmur (2018) … Not trading S Landon Collins (in 2018) before letting him go in free agency (2019). … Signing WR Kenny Golladay (four years, $72 million in 2021).