General Manager is one of the most important positions within a football team, and the New York Giants have had Dave Gettleman in that spot for the past few years. Gettleman’s time with the franchise has been a polarizing issue that has produced both supporters and harsh critics. Some have even shifted from one stance to another as this Giants offseason has felt different from the last few.
However, in a recent ranking of GMs from NFL Network, Gettleman was ranked as the second worst. To his credit, not every GM was listed in the rankings. Those with less than two drafts were excluded, effectively giving some GMs a grace period that Gettleman doesn’t fall into. The critics will likely agree with this take, but is it true?
What the rankings had to say about Gettleman
It’s early, but selecting tackle Andrew Thomas at No. 4 overall last year when three standout tackles were taken after him is a troubling sign. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones. Less so for fellow 2019 first-round pick DeAndre Baker, whom the Giants traded up for but who’s no longer on the team. (New York’s other first-rounder from two years ago, Dexter Lawrence, is a nice contributor.) It’s not Saquon Barkley’s fault he tore his ACL, but an offense built around him in 2018-19 had its limitations. Gettleman wants a team full of large humans who can run the ball and stop the run, an approach that’s out of step with the current NFL. There is a ticking clock on Gettleman’s plan coming together in time.
The take here is one that most critics of Gettleman can agree with, and even many fans that don’t lean too strongly in either direction on this issue. It’s an objective fact that Gettleman has underperformed and made moves that haven’t panned out how the Giants hoped. The case of DeAndre Baker was a clear cut mistake, either in the Giants trading up for the player in the first place or the way they handled his exit depending on how you look at things.
And, while Barkley is one of the most popular Giants, Gettleman’s decision to rely on a running back by taking one at number two overall caused some to raise their eyebrows at the time – especially when injuries came into play during Barkley’s last two seasons.
The article doesn’t go into Gettleman’s free agency decisions, but those have been just as much of a mixed bag as his draft history. While Gettleman has brought on players like Blake Martinez, James Bradberry, and now Kenny Golladay, many fans were ready to see him go by the time those additions were made.
In the defense of Gettleman
We’ve seen the reasons why Gettleman was ranked as one of the worst GMs in the league, but it’s only fair to look at things from the other point of view also. Joe Judge has gotten much of the credit for high profile free agents joining the Giants, and while the head coach does influence free agency to an extent, it’s still the job of the General Manager to negotiate and close deals.
A great head coach doesn’t always mean great free agents, and credit can’t be removed entirely from the one in charge of actually making deals with free agents. This offseason, we also saw the cap situation handled relatively well. The Giants did lose Dalvin Tomlinson, but Nate Solder’s massive deal was successfully restructured and the Giants were able to bring on multiple important free agent additions despite their tricky spot with the cap.
Also, Joe Judge has been the biggest factor in the team’s turnaround, but it’s safe to say the Giants organization wouldn’t have taken a chance on Judge in the first place if he didn’t work well with the existing GM that the franchise has shown a commitment to keeping around.
The GM is often involved in the coaching search, and while we don’t know if that was the case with the Giants and Judge, the possibility that Gettleman was involved in some way or another in bringing Judge on board shouldn’t be ignored.
Gettleman is far from a perfect GM – and there’s some entirely valid reasons why a lot of fans have called for him to be fired. However, based on the last offseason and the upwards trend for the Giants, it’s a bit of an outdated take to call him the second worst veteran GM in the league.
After all, even if the Giants are largely having success behind a head coach that’s turned the culture around, you can’t just discount the impact of the work behind the scenes in the front office on that process. The GM position exists for a reason, and has its own duties that are supportive of, but separate from, those of a head coach.