5 bold predictions for Giants' 2023 offseason
Joe Schoen was handcuffed by cap woes in his first year as the Giants’ GM, which affected the way he could approach the offseason and the hunt for in-season upgrades. That should be different as he starts his second offseason in charge, one with a significant to-do list for a surprise playoff team.
In other words, Schoen and coach Brian Daboll have a chance to further put their stamp on Big Blue as free agency, the trade market and the draft approaches.
What will happen? Here are five bold predictions for the Giants’ offseason, featuring a solution to a long-standing problem, some old friends sticking around and a new way the organization is perceived across the NFL.
You want bold? Here’s how all the big interior calls will shake out in East Rutherford: The Giants will keep Daniel Jones via a contract extension and keep Saquon Barkley by giving him the franchise tag – yes, we know Barkley has indicated he wouldn’t be happy with that move, but at least he’d get one more shot at a run with this group. Where would the offense be without Jones and Barkley?
The Giants also will open discussions to give pro bowler Dexter Lawrence, who is the best nose tackle in football, a long-term contract extension. That’s such a layup that Schoen actually chuckled when asked in a recent press conference if Lawrence had done enough to earn a second contract. “Yeah, I would say Dexter has done enough,” Schoen said.
Fixing a hole
By the end of the season, one of the most glaring Big Blue issues was the absence of a No. 1-level wide receiver. It was a dramatic year for the pass-catching corps, from injury to trades and beyond, and several players took advantage of opportunities, including Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James. But the Giants need their own go-to guy and this offseason is when they find it.
The free agent market isn’t great, thanks to teams recently locking up their top receivers. Jakobi Meyers (67 catches for the Patriots) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (78 grabs for the Chiefs) are probably the two best available free agents. But Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent. And there are other ways to land a wideout, too. Perhaps the Giants can find common ground for a trade to land DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks or Jerry Jeudy.
The wide receiver class in the draft is reportedly strong and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had the Giants taking Jordan Addison of USC at No. 25 in a recent mock draft. Jaxon Smith-Njigba of Ohio State is another talented receiver prospect.
More is better
The Giants have work to do deeper on the receiver depth chart, too. Here’s one prediction: Big Blue brings back Sterling Shepard, who was lost for the season when he tore his ACL in Week 3.
He was out, but not gone. He stuck around all year instead of disappearing. He exhorted teammates, bringing energy and leadership as the Giants reached the playoffs. In some ways, perhaps he was an extension of the Giants’ revamped culture.
“Love Shep,” Schoen said. “He’s awesome; juice guy all the time. He’s one of my favorites here.” We’re not suggesting he be retained just because he made a good pre-game playlist, however. If he’s healthy, he can still be a reliable receiver, just lower in the wideout pecking order. Schoen said Shepard is something “we may or may not entertain.” We’re betting they do.
Daboll and Schoen, with the help of staff and players, have completely changed the Giants’ culture. The Giants made the playoffs – and won a postseason game! – in a season in which most thought they’d struggle to find wins, never mind an identity.
Daboll showed plenty of coaching guts and brains and the Giants outplayed their talent levels and were in most every single game.
All of that should help the Giants bloom into a place mega-players want to be. We’ll see how that manifests itself during free agency, but having such a big-time vibe to go with the big city should give Schoen some advantages. This is a hotspot now.
The Giants lose a coordinator
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale both did impressive jobs during the 2022 season, so much so that both got attention from teams looking for a new head coach. Kafka, who helped Jones to his best season and helped make Barkley look like his old explosive self, had two interviews with the Houston Texans, according to reports, and one apiece with the Panthers and Colts. Martindale interviewed with the Colts.
Daboll could have to find a replacement for one or both, but this kind of interest is another indication that the rest of the league likes what it sees in the Giants.