When Joe Schoen became the newest general manager of the New York Giants in January, he and everybody else knew he had a daunting task ahead.
Big Blue’s four-year run under Dave Gettleman was putrid. Four straight losing seasons and an embarrassing performance to close out last year’s 4-13 campaign spelled the end of Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge. And while New York’s new leadership tandem of Schoen and Brian Daboll is a major upgrade, the roster needs more than a new player or two.
Schoen inherited a team with a terrible cap situation, limiting New York to what it could spend on the free-agent market. However, he also has a team with nine draft picks at his disposal, including two picks in the top 10. And based on early offseason moves by other teams, the Giants should be in a prime position to address their greatest weakness.
The Giants were never going to be huge players in free agency
Even with fourth-year quarterback Daniel Jones on a team-friendly rookie deal, the Giants entered the 2022 offseason with a nightmare salary situation.
Gettleman’s decision to go all-in last offseason backfired spectacularly. New York signed WR Kenny Golladay and CB Adoree’ Jackson to long-term deals and inked DE Leonard Williams a sizable three-year extension. The end result was four wins and a team that was $4.3 million over the cap heading into the offseason. Nice going, Dave.
Rather than being aggressive buyers, Schoen’s first order of business was to clear cap. The first-year GM has publicly stated that he wanted to clear $40 million in cap space, allowing them to sign their draft picks and add veterans as needed.
Over the last two weeks, Schoen has cut TE Kyle Rudolph, RB Devontae Booker, and P Riley Dixon, saving the Giants approximately $10 million. He also restructured contracts for WR Sterling Shepard and LB Blake Martinez, inching them closer to the $40 million goal. And once a decision is made to either cut, trade, or restructure CB James Bradberry, New York will be right near its target.
As fun as Gettleman’s frivolous spending sprees might have been, expecting Schoen to do the same thing wasn’t realistic.
Early offseason moves bode very well for the Giants’ draft wishes
Due to salary cap constraints, the Giants were forced to sit back and watch as teams threw millions of dollars at top free agents. Particularly, New York has seen teams improve their offensive lines, its weakest unit for several years running. However, the moves we’ve seen so far bode extremely well for Big Blue as it pertains to the NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars possess the top pick for the second year in a row. While there was lots of speculation the Jags would take either Alabama OT Evan Neal or NC State OT Ikem Ekwonu, the chances of that sharply declined after Jacksonville signed former Washington Commanders OG Brandon Scherff to a three-year, $52.5 million deal and gave OT Cam Robinson the franchise tag, estimated for $16.6 million.
Two picks later, the Houston Texans would have a chance to select either top tackle prospect. But it became far less likely after Houston decided to restructure OT Laremy Tunsil’s contract, seemingly putting any trade speculation to rest.
Then there’s the New York Jets, picking one spot ahead of Big Blue at four. Gang Green’s biggest signing this spring was former San Francisco 49ers OG Laken Tomlinson, investing $40 million over three years into their newest starter. This comes two years after drafting Louisville OT Mekhi Becton in the first round.
Three of the four teams preceding the Giants committed to veteran linemen in various ways. The lone exception is the Detroit Lions, but the chances they’d go Neal or Ekwonu one year after taking Oregon OT Penei Sewell are slim.
It’s no guarantee next month’s draft falls this way, but it’s looking far more promising that New York gets either Neal or Ekwonu with the fifth pick, addressing its greatest weakness with an elite prospect.
The G-Men found some room in the budget to address the o-line
Although the Giants will have to do most of their o-line improvements at the draft, Schoen was able to get a few upgrades on the eve of the new league year.
New York signed former Indianapolis Colts OG Mark Glowinski to a three-year deal worth up to $20 million. Glowinski, 29, has started at right guard in each of the last three seasons, so he’s coming to New York to replace the departed Will Hernandez in the starting lineup.
Schoen also added a familiar face, agreeing to terms with C Jon Feliciano. The 30-year-old was cut after three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Schoen and Daboll’s old club. While Feliciano has more experience at guard, he’s expected to slide to center and fill in for the injured Nick Gates. Additionally, New York signed OT Matt Gono to a one-year, prove-it deal after the former Atlanta Falcon missed 2021 due to shoulder surgery.
But even with two new starters and the return of 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas, the Giants’ offensive line still needs some work. That will be addressed at the draft, where either Neal or Ekwonu would become day one starters on the right side of the line.
And after a few early moves around the league, the likelihood of that happening has rapidly increased.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.