Are the New York Giants already past their rebuilding window?

Cay North
New York Giants, Dave Gettleman
Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Carolina Panters general manager Dave Gettleman speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Every team in the NFL has an expiration date. The New York Giants found that out after their last victory in the Super Bowl during the decline that followed. Even teams regarded as some of the best and most consistent in the league, such as the Patriots, look very different than they did even three to four years ago. The Patriots are third in the AFC East right now. And the Legion of Boom no longer makes up the Seattle Seahawks secondary.

But have the Giants hit the point where cap rules and contracts will break apart their progress towards a rebuild? That may be the case, even if the team does move on from Dave Gettleman as their GM after this season.

The fact of the matter is, the NFL’s rules aren’t designed to keep a team together forever. When a team hits its expiration date, it either has to reload or rebuild. But the Giants already missed their chance to reload – bad roster management and drafting after their last Super Bowl win led to lackluster performance in the years that followed. And the team doesn’t have the assets right now to make moves at the trade deadline aimed at winning now.

The Giants have a crossroads at the trade deadline

There’s been a lot of talk after the Eagles game about how the Giants should move Evan Engram before the trade deadline, but it’s not just about Engram. The team has problems in a number of places and only has so many years to fix them before contracts push them into rebuilding again. The Giants have been in a state of rebuilding since before Gettleman took over as GM, and Gettleman has only continued that process with little success.

They have a couple of options in front of them.

There’s the more painful option of giving up on this current rebuild – including Saquon Barkley, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. And likely, on others such as Daniel Jones. Not because Jones is a bad quarterback, but because he’s a major piece from Gettleman’s rebuild. This is the ‘tanking for Trevor Lawrence’ option. But if the Giants do pull the plug on this team earlier, they have a better chance of improving quicker with high draft picks and a new front office.

On the other hand, they can continue to see if this group of players will win. But they run the risk of falling into the trap of mediocrity even if they do improve in the coming years. That is, rebuilding slowly and becoming a middling, but not contending, team. After falling into this trap, it’s easy for a team to crash back down to Earth once free agency and retirements break up the core of their talent.

It’s hard to know which route the Giants are leaning towards, but we’ll likely have a better idea of it as the trade deadline approaches and they make moves.