No matter what you think of Daniel Jones, there’s no doubt the New York Giants need better players at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. Of course, the utter disaster known as general manager Dave Gettleman and the major disappointment known as head coach Joe Judge deserve blame for the franchise’s latest losing season. And that’s why neither are with the franchise any longer.
At this point, it’s impossible to figure out what the Giants do well.
The offense remains a mess, with Jones displaying the same inconsistencies that have plagued him since his rookie season and Saquon Barkley still providing underwhelming production for someone who went second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. The defense lacks established stars, and it’s difficult to identify anyone on that side of the ball worth getting excited about.
The reality of the situation is that the Giants need to hit the reset button and start fresh following a 4-13 season and a last-place finish in the NFC East.
Will that happen, though?
Ultimately, these decisions will be made by those with much bigger paychecks than mine. But here’s the optimal plan of attack the Giants should follow during the 2022 NFL offseason.
Biggest offseason questions
Talk about an organization in total disarray.
The Giants will need to use the early portion of their 2022 NFL offseason to find a new GM and head coach. As for what happens after that, is finding a new starting QB on the list of things to do?
Will Jones remain on the roster by Week 1 of the 2022 season? Or will he get traded or released well before then?
Meanwhile, there are several roster-related questions to consider.
Will Saquon Barkley receive an extension? The No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft has battled injuries throughout his NFL career. He carries star power, but his production doesn’t match up. His future remains uncertain, and it’s fair to wonder whether the franchise will move on from him sooner than later.
Top free-agency decisions
Top free agents: Evan Engram (TE), Jabrill Peppers (S), Will Hernandez (OG), Lorenzo Carter (OLB)
Not long ago, it looked like Evan Engram would fill a key role in New York for years to come. However, injuries and lackluster production may seal his fate with the franchise. At his best, the physically talented tight end can make an impact as a pass-catcher. At this point, though, it would make little sense for the Giants to invest more financial resources on a player who’s played 16 games just once in his five-year career.
Sticking on that side of the ball, does Will Hernandez have a long-term future in New York? The 2018 second-round pick hasn’t developed into a top-flight guard, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Giants let him walk.
Meanwhile, Jabrill Peppers, who arrived via the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, could also find himself looking for a new employer. The veteran defensive back seems like a strong candidate to latch on with a team with playoff aspirations.
How the front office approaches Lorenzo Carter will be interesting. The 2018 third-rounder hasn’t developed into a consistent edge-rushing force as expected. Given the Giants’ lack of depth at linebacker, can they afford to let one of their only semi-dependable players leave?
2022 NFL Draft needs and potential targets
Top picks: First round (own), first round (via Chicago Bears), second round (own)
Draft needs: DE, LB, OG, TE, QB
Obviously, the Giants need a better quarterback than Daniel Jones. Whether they spend one of their two first-rounders on the position remains to be seen. After all, there isn’t a true blue-chip prospect in this class, which makes the idea of going in a different direction more palatable.
What should the Giants do with their pair of top-10 selections? First, the defense desperately needs a true No. 1 pass rusher. Unfortunately for Giants fans, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux will likely be gone. However, Purdue’s George Karlaftis should be available when the team comes on the clock.
The Giants could also use one of their first-rounders to land an off-ball linebacker. Utah’s Devin Lloyd and Georgia’s Nakobe Dean would add speed and youth, and whoever’s running the draft could trade down and take either player a little later.
1 player on each side of the ball who must step up in 2022
It’s hard to pick just one player on offense who needs to step up. After all, Jones and Barkley have a long way to go to justify their respective draft pedigrees. So does left tackle Andrew Thomas, who has had an up-and-down start to his pro football career. However, for this piece, we’re putting the spotlight on a big-name player with a big salary who’s made a minimal impact in 2021: Kenny Golladay.
The 6-foot-4, 213-pound wideout joined the Giants on a four-year, $72 million contract during the offseason and hasn’t come close to living up to expectations. The ex-Detroit Lion showed No. 1 receiver ability early in his career, but he’s failed to build off a magical 2019 season that included 65 receptions for 1,190 yards and a league-high 11 touchdowns. If he doesn’t become a go-to playmaker, the Giants will be in major trouble on offense.
On the other side of the ball, will the real Leonard Williams please stand up? The 2015 first-round pick parlayed an 11.5-sack campaign into a three-year, $63 million extension. To no surprise, though, a player who never recorded double-digit sacks prior to 2020 has posted only 5.5 through 14 games.
Considering he makes low-end starting quarterback money, Williams can’t just be a solid contributor. He has to be the guy who commands attention and wrecks havoc on a consistent basis.
Needless to say, the pressure is on the 6-foot-5, 302-pound defensive lineman to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks at a much higher rate in 2022.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.