New York Giants: No More Excuses In Week Three

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have suffered two disappointing losses to kick off their 2020 NFL season. Sitting at 0-2 the Giants are heading into Week Three with a divided, upset fanbase. New York lost its best player, Saquon Barkley, to a season-ending injury in Week Two. They lost by a single possession after holding the Bears to 0 points in the second half of their Week Two contest. In Week Three, there is no more room for excuses and there is no more time for development: the Giants need to win.

Rookie head coach Joe Judge has kept his team fighting hard in games that result in losing efforts. Now, at home, against an injury-riddled San Fransisco 49ers team in Week Three, Joe Judge and the Giants need to come away with a win.

Their Easiest Opponent Yet

The Giants faced two of the best defenses in the NFL in Weeks One and Two. They were scheduled to go up against yet another dominant front-seven in Week Three, but they are dodging a bullet as San Fransisco’s powerful defense has suffered a number of critical injuries.

Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Dee Ford are all out in Week Three (and some for much longer). On offense, Jimmy Garoppolo is unlikely to play, leaving Nick Mullens as the starting quarterback. The last time the Giants faced Nick Mullens and the 49ers, Eli Manning mounted a come-from-behind victory on primetime.

The Giants have no excuse not to beat the Nick Mullens-led 49ers again in 2020. Additionally, Mullens will be without the team’s starting running back, Raheem Mostert, who is currently twelfth in the NFL in rushing yards. Backup running back Tevin Coleman also did not participate in practice this week. And Mullens’s favorite target, All-Pro tight end George Kittle, has not practiced and did not play in Week Two.

New York is finally catching a break. After throwing their brand new coaching staff into the fire against two of the best teams in the NFL, the Giants are catching a break, going up against the most injured team in the NFL this week. The Fighting Joe Judges have no excuses left if they lose this game. This is one that they need to win, and one that they should win.

New York Giants: Prized free agent pass rusher may be out of reach

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

The New York Giants are in dire need of upgrading their defense and one highly regarded free agent may be too pricey for Big Blue. According to Matt Verderame, the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to keep talented defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in Duval.  The hope remains that the Jaguars will be able to strike a deal with Ngakoue.  If not, the franchise tag is very well in play.

What does a franchise tag mean for the Giants, Ngakoue?

The deadline for an NFL team to apply a franchise tag is 4:00 PM EST on March 10th.  For Ngakoue, this could mean a $17.95 million deal for the 2020 season.  If the Giants still wanted to offer the young defensive star, they would have to forfeit two first round picks.  A price that is much more than New York will be likely willing to spend.

Of course, Jacksonville also has the ability to apply a transition tag to Yannick.  This would be a cheaper option for Jacksonville ($15.32 million), but would allow other teams to negotiate with Ngakoue without needing to surrender a return.  Jacksonville would still be allowed to match an offer made for Yannick, but the transition tag is so rarely used in the NFL.

It has been documented that Yannick Ngakoue seems to want out of Jacksonville, so a franchise tag could make for a long offseason.  He may intentionally miss OTAs and minicamp if he does not agree.  The Jaguars could then trade Ngakoue, getting draft assets in return.

Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney and Dee Ford were all traded after being tagged last season.  The Kansas City Chiefs gave up a first and second round pick for Frank Clark.  Likewise, San Francisco sent a second round pick to Kansas City for Dee Ford.  Seattle seemingly got Jadeveon Clowney for a bargain.  With Clowney being dealt after the July 15th deadline, the Texans received a third round pick, as Seattle had more leverage in negotiations.

The Giants can still land Ngakoue… Technically

So, it is still possible for the New York Giants to acquire Yannick Ngakoue, but the cost may be too rich.  According to Spotrac, Ngakoue’s market value is somewhere between $17 and $18 million per year. However, the requirement of giving up two first round picks is incredibly steep.  Much like trading a first, second or a combination of picks for Ngakoue, giving up valuable draft assets is an unattractive option for a team in the Giants’ position.  Dave Gettleman already received criticism for giving up a third round pick for free agent to be Leonard Williams.  It is unlikely he would be willing to do that again.

New York Giants: Why It Is Inexplicable, Inexcusable, and Incompetent To Not Franchise Tag Landon Collins

New York Giants, Landon Collins

On Monday afternoon, teams all around the NFL used their franchise tag on their best impending free agents, except for the New York Giants. The Texans used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney, the Chiefs used the franchise tag on Dee Ford, and the Seahawks used the tag on Frank Clark.

All of these teams used the tag on their best defensive player. The deadline to use the franchise tag is March 5th at 4:00 p.m. A report by Ian Rapoport surfaced on Monday revealing that the New York Giants do not plan on using their franchise tag on their own best defensive player, strong safety Landon Collins.

Now, typically, I write my articles in a very objective way. I do not use the first-person narrative like I am right now, and I do not give my opinion. I usually just present the facts, rumors, and reports, then explain what it means for the Giants.

However, this is a special case. The Giants’ choosing to not use the franchise tag on Landon Collins has set the majority of the fanbase off into a feeling of vicious anger. It has also lead many fans to lose hope in general manager Dave Gettleman. So, allow me to be the voice of the people.

What Is The Franchise Tag?

Franchise tags are tools that allow NFL teams to keep would-be free agents for one year. The player’s guaranteed salary for that one season is attractive — the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position, or 120 percent of his prior year’s salary — but such a tag provides the player no long-term security.

In 2019, the franchise tag’s price for the safety position is $11,150,000. Apparently, the Giants think that is too pricey for the best player on their defense. This is coming from the general manager who admitted his defense was terrible and vowed to improve it in the offseason.

Letting your best defensive player walk for nothing does not make your team better in any way. If the Giants do not think Collins is that talented of a player, they do not have to sign him to a long-term extension. In fact, it would be wise of them not to if they do not believe in him as a franchise player. But it would be the bare minimum for the Giants to place the franchise tag on Landon Collins.

Explaining The Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag:

There are three types of franchise tags. The non-exclusive franchise tag, the exclusive franchise tag, and the transition tag.

When a player is placed on the non-exclusive franchise tag, they have the opportunity to gain two first-round picks as compensation if the player leaves. The non-exclusive franchise tag allows other teams to make contract offers to Landon Collins and allows the Giants to match these offers if they so desire. If the Giants do not want to match the offer, Collins goes to the team whose offer he accepts and the Giants receive two first-round picks as compensation.

That is just one way for the Giants to receive compensation for Landon Collins. Collins has a reported trade value of a third-round pick. Prior to the 2018 trade deadline, the Giants shopped Collins in hopes of receiving a second-round pick. They were offered a third-round pick but declined the offer.

Why Using A Franchise Tag Is A No-Brainer:

If the Giants did not plan on keeping Landon Collins around in the future, why did they not accept the third-round pick at the trade deadline? What sense is there in letting a star player walk with nothing in return?

It is not too late for the Giants to get something in return for Collins. They could if they wanted to, but they are choosing not to. This is just inexplicable.

If the Giants want to move on from Collins, they should still place the franchise tag on him. When signed to a franchise tag, the Giants have the ability to trade Collins. Without a doubt, a team would trade for him. Offenses were scoring at a record-setting rate in 2018. Everyone is looking for help on defense (except for the Giants, for some reason).

Collins will have a “significant market” if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Even if Landon did not become an unrestricted free agent, he would still have a huge market. A team would trade for him. The Giants could still get their third-round pick for Collins, which would be a huge addition considering they do not have a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Why Landon Collins Is Worth The Salary Cap Number:

Maybe Collins is not deserving of a long-term extension with about $11 million annually. That opinion could be validly argued. But when you look at the rest of the Giants’ roster, I can not figure out why they think this price is too high. Collins is a former all-pro safety. He is the most consistent player on the Giants’ defense. Yet he is not worthy of about $11 million.

However, Gettleman thinks Alec Ogletree is worth being the third-highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Gettleman is fine paying Ogletree $11,750,000 in 2019, but he cannot find the money to pay Landon Collins. Alec Ogletree was Pro Football Focus’s 81st ranked linebacker in the NFL in 2018 with an overall grade of 50.7. He was the second lowest graded player on the Giants in 2018, but he will make $11,750,000 next season.

Landon Collins was the third-highest graded player on the Giants’ defense in 2018 with a grade of 70.4. This overall grade is also much higher than the Giants’ highest-paid player in 2019.

Dave Gettleman’s Mismanagement Of The Salary Cap

Eli Manning is set to make $23,200,000 in 2019. He had an overall PFF grade of 64.3 in 2018, making him the 31st ranked quarterback in the NFL. There are only 32 teams in the NFL. Compare this to Collins’s third-highest defensive grade on the Giants, and lack of a contract with the team.

I love Eli Manning as much as the next guy, but Dave Gettleman cannot justify paying Manning that salary and yet whine that the franchise tag price for Collins is too high. Cutting the 38-year-old Eli Manning saves $17 million in cap space. At the very least, the Giants could negotiate Manning into a pay-cut to free some cap space. That is the missing money for Collins.

Believe me when I say this: Eli Manning is my favorite football player of all time and he is the reason I am a Giants fan. But this does not change the fact that his contract is hurting the rest of the Giants. Especially when they refuse to pay star players due to limited cap space.

Eli Manning is a franchise hero. But 21 passing touchdowns does not cut it in today’s NFL. Jerry Reese failed Manning. He was unable to build a solid roster around Eli when he was in his prime. This is a fact, however, that time is gone. Eli is not in his prime anymore. The Giants do not need to pay him like he is in his prime, especially if it means letting talented players walk out the door with nothing in return.

Cutting Eli Manning frees up $17 million. Releasing backup tight end Rhett Ellison frees up $3.25 million. Cutting edge rusher Olivier Vernon frees up $11.5 million. That is $31.75 million freed up right there to put the Giants at roughly $58 million which is more than enough to make moves while franchise tagging Landon Collins.

New York Giants: Should The Giants Trade For Chiefs’ Pass Rusher Dee Ford?

Beginning on February 19, NFL teams were officially allowed to apply the franchise and transition tags to impending free agents. The New York Giants have yet to place a tag on safety Landon Collins, but a few other teams have used their tags. The deadline to use the franchise tag is Tuesday, March 5th.

The Kansas City Chiefs officially placed the franchise tag on edge defender Dee Ford on Saturday, March 2nd. However, the Chiefs will be listening to trade offers for Ford. The Chiefs recently made a change in their defensive scheme, which is why they are willing to trade Ford.

Highlights From Dee Ford’s 2018 Season

Dee Ford is a 3-4 edge defender. He is a stand-up outside linebacker that is great at rushing the passer. In 2018, Ford had 13 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 55 tackles. He was Pro Football Focus’s 11th ranked edge defender with an overall grade of 87.7. He even earned PFF’s number 1 ranked pass-rush grade in 2018 with a grade of 91.0.

Why The Giants Might Want To Trade For Dee Ford

With the Giants having the 2nd least total sacks in the league in 2018, Ford could be a big upgrade off the edge. The Giants are reportedly shopping Pro Bowl edge rusher Olivier Vernon. If the Giants do not find a trade partner, they could cut Vernon to free up a large amount of cap space.

Regardless of wether the Giants trade or cut Vernon, they will still have a massive hole to fill at the edge position. Dee Ford could fill that hole.

Olivier Vernon was good in 2018, but has been inconsistent during his entire career with the Giants. In 3 seasons with the Giants, Vernon never reached 10 sacks in a single season. He has only done this once in his career. He had 11.5 sacks with the Dolphins in 2013. Ford has reached 10 sacks twice in his career. He had 13 in 2018 and 10 in 2016.

Former Giants general manager Jerry Reese signed Olivier Vernon to a massive contract back in 2016. Current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman inherited Vernon and his gargantuan contract last offseason. With Vernon not playing up to his contract, it makes sense Gettleman is considering moving on from the veteran.

An interesting scenario that could take place is a Vernon for Ford trade. Olivier Vernon played under the Chiefs’ current defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo when he was with the Giants. Spags helped Vernon have a career-year in 2016. This might lead the Chiefs to have a lot of interest in Vernon.

Vernon could go back to being a 4-3 defensive end for the Chiefs, while Dee Ford could continue his career as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Giants. It would be a high-risk, high-reward trade for both teams. But if Spagnuolo can get the best out of Vernon in Kansas City, and Dee Ford can continue to progress his talents in New York, both teams could walk away from this trade very happy.

Why Dee Ford Is A Risky Player To Trade For

Dee Ford did have PFF’s highest pass-rush grade in 2018, but that grade came out of no where. In Ford’s first four seasons in the NFL, he was nowhere near as good as he was in his fifth season. Dee has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career.

In 2017, Ford dealt with a back injury. This forced him to play in only 6 games and total a measly 2 sacks. It took Ford 5 years to finally hit a real stride, then, once he did, his defensive coordinator was gone. Maybe a change of scenery will bode well for Dee. Or maybe he will regress back to his previous playing talent.

If the Giants trade for Ford, they will be hoping to progress his talents. The Giants have lacked a serious pass-rushing threat for years now. If Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher can figure out a way to elevate Dee Ford’s talents, trading for him could be a brilliant move.