7 big decisions Giants need to make moving forward

Ralph Vacchiano
·6 min read
Dave Gettleman takes questions at 2020 NFL Scouting Combine
Dave Gettleman takes questions at 2020 NFL Scouting Combine

The Giants stood pat at the trading deadline because, according to head coach Joe Judge, "We felt good about where we are."

He added, "There are some foundational pieces that we're definitely looking to build with in this program. We're happy with the progress they're making. We want to keep building with this team right there."

That's a nice sentiment, but the reality is there is a bunch of players on the current Giants roster who will not be there when this team finally starts winning, and there are many changes that will be made in the coming months. These Giants may be showing some signs of mild improvement, but they are still very much a work in progress.

Some big decisions are coming, too. Here's a look at a few:

Does Dave Gettleman deserve (or want) another season?

This is the biggest question that looms over the franchise since it could mean a complete overhaul of the front office. The 69-year-old GM is far from a lock to be fired, as SNY reported last week, but with a 10-30 record it's certainly possible. If he goes, it would more likely be a retirement, which actually could happen even if Gettleman's bosses give him the option to stay.

So it comes down to this: Does John Mara see enough progress from this team to either ask Gettleman to return, or promote one of his lieutenants, or does he grow so disillusioned that he finally brings in someone from the outside? It will depend on how Mara defines progress and how well this team plays in the second half. A lot of this could also hinge on the answer to the next question, too.

Is Daniel Jones the right guy?

Gettleman is all in on Jones, so if the GM is back there will be no quarterback change. And the Giants are likely leaning in that direction anyway. There is a lot of faith and belief in Jones throughout the organization, and plenty from people around the NFL, too. Yes, he's struggling, but he has shown enough talent to make everyone believe that with more experience and a better cast around him, he will be good.

What could change that? If he's such a disaster the rest of the way that the Giants somehow beat out the Jets for the No. 1 pick in the draft, that could do it. If Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is within their grasp, he could be too enticing to pass up. Otherwise, it's more likely Jones will get another year.

If not him, then whom?

That's the problem with any thought of moving on from Jones. The Giants understand the value of a young, franchise quarterback, and they know from their Eli Manning experience that patience can be rewarded. So they're certainly not going to dump Jones for a free agent like, say, Cam Newton or Philip Rivers. And they probably wouldn't dump him for another young franchise quarterback, even if they think the new one is better. Having to develop another young quarterback could set the franchise back years.

Lawrence may be the exception. He's considered a generational prospect. But again, if the Giants are so bad that they end up with the No. 1 pick, it means Jones has been terrible and the decision will be easy.

Where can they find a pass rusher?

It's fun to dream of Shaq Barrett or Yannick Ngakoue and picture them as the pass rusher the Giants so desperately need. It's harder to picture the Giants spending the kind of money they'd need to spend. It's possible, though. Currently, if the salary cap drops as much as expected, they project to only have about $16 million under a $175 million cap. But they can probably cut a few players to get to about $25 million more.

It seems much more likely they'd spend a high draft pick on the position, especially if they end up in the top five (and don't take a quarterback). Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau figures to be the top pass rusher in the draft. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons could be an option if the Giants win a few games and don't end up with a top-five pick.

Should (or can) they re-sign Leonard Williams?

If Gettleman is gone, it's hard to imagine a new GM will bring Williams back, but Gettleman obviously likes him. And really, everyone can now see why. Williams is having perhaps his finest season. He even has four sacks, putting him on pace for a career high.

The issue with him is price. He's getting $16.1 million on his franchise tag, and will likely use that as a starting point in negotiations. He's already said publicly he's looking for a $100 million deal like the elite pass rushers get, and he and the Giants were never close on extension talks last winter. Gettleman will try again, but it won't happen unless Williams’ price comes down.

Is the offensive line really "fixed?"

Clearly not, but the Giants believe it’s on the way. They have four building blocks in place, and all could be starting or seeing significant playing time over the second half -- tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart, and guards Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez. The jury is very out, though, on center Nick Gates and upgrading that position could be an offseason priority.

The line looked much better on Monday night against the Bucs, and they've all shown flashes of promise. The hope is the experience they get and chemistry they build in the second half will pay off next year.

Is it worth trying to extend Saquon Barkley's contract now?

Before Barkley tore his ACL, the Giants planned to open negotiations with him during the offseason and they might try anyway. It's possible -- though not likely -- they could get him at a discount since he's not healthy. Even if it cost them full price, though -- something like five years, $90 million with half of that guaranteed -- it could benefit the Giants by lowering his $10 million cap number in 2021.

There's a lot of uncertainly, though, from Barkley's health to future revenues and salary cap thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Giants do have Barkley under contract for two more seasons (including his fifth-year option). The safer play might be to wait.