Even after an 11-5 season there are so many questions about the Giants and their offseason plans that I had to split them into several SNY Twitter mailbags. Part I ran on Wednesday. Part II ran on Thursday. Part III ran Friday.
And now, the grand finale … Part IV:
Is DRC too much of a "luxury" for this giants Defense considering his expensive contract? -- @SGT_Sports
Given some of the huge contracts the Giants threw around last offseason, the five-year, $35 million deal (with $14 million guaranteed) that CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signed in 2014 doesn't seem so outlandish. He is about to be 31, though, so it's worth taking a look at considering he's due another $13 million in salary and bonuses over the next two years.
DRC will count for $8.5 million against the salary cap, and the Giants could clear $4.5 million in cap space if they cut him. He'd still count for $4 million in dead money, though, which is a lot to allocate to a player who's not playing. The Giants are probably going to have around $25-30 million in salary cap space to play with this offseason, depending on where the cap is set - and they could easily clear around $12-13 million by cutting expendable players before they even think about releasing DRC.
So, consider that they've got $40 million-ish to spend. Is DRC, at $8.5 million (in cap space) a "luxury"? I don't think so at all. And I don't think it would be worth getting rid of the Giants' versatile third cornerback - coming off a terrific season, by the way - just to clear $4.5 million. They could restructure his deal, or maybe the deals of others, to clear that amount without letting him go.
DRC is an interesting case, though. After the 2015 season, when the defense was terrible, I figured DRC was already on borrowed time. The feeling I got from talking to people inside the Giants organization was that they were very down on him. They loved his skills and thought he was an underrated leader, but they thought he was in decline and they felt like he wasn't willing to play through seemingly minor injuries.
Now, I get the opposite sense - that they love him again and see him as a mentor to young Eli Apple. And they love the way he handled his reduced role and the fact that Apple jumped him on the depth chart.
The bottom line is that the NFL is increasingly a pass-happy league and the nickel defense, with three corners on the field, is now basically the Giants' base. Ben McAdoo's cliché is that he has three starting corners and in this case it's true. They need three. So I don't think the cost is too high to bring DRC back so the Giants can keep together what might have been the best secondary in the league.
What are the Giants doing to reduce the abysmal number of games missed due to injury -- @The_Mac_30
Wait, is this a leftover question from 2015?
Seriously, the Giants were not an injury-plagued mess this year - not by any measure, and not by a longshot. They were, according to FootballOutsiders.com, the most injured team in the NFL three years running coming into this season - based on their formula of "adjusted games lost," which isn't the only way to measure it, but it's a good one - but when the 2016 season list is out, I would expect them to be somewhere in the middle of the pack. Definitely not near the top.
The truth is they didn't lose a lot of key players. The only players on injured reserve at the end of the season who were big factors for the Giants were running back Shane Vereen and safety Darian Thompson. The Giants would probably argue the training camp loss of TE/FB Will Johnson was costly. And other than defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, there weren't any indispensable players on the roster who were too hurt to play in the Wild Card game.
And yeah, they had other injuries to deal with during the season (relatively short-term ones like guard Justin Pugh's knee injury) and stuff people had to play through (like the hand injuries to defensive end Olivier Vernon, running back Rashad Jennings and even receiver Odell Beckham). But I don't think the number of games missed due to injury was "abysmal" at all.
I took this question, though, to address why. Most people give the credit to Ben McAdoo for hiring a new strength and conditioning coach (Aaron Wellman), for adjusting the work schedule (off Mondays instead of Tuesdays, no practice on Fridays) and many other behind-the-scenes, health-related tweaks. You can't argue with success, so he deserves the credit (even though I still say Tom Coughlin made many similar schedule tweaks in recent years, to no avail).
Was it all about the new strength and conditioning program? Maybe. The players certainly believe that helped. I still think luck plays a big part, though. The Giants' old strength and conditioning program had nothing to do with a lot of the injuries suffered in recent years - the concussions, the contact injuries, specifically. And players still got hurt under the new program. The injuries just seemed to be less severe this year, or had players who were more able to play through them.
Maybe the influx of new players - many without injury histories - had something to do with that. Maybe the Giants were just due. Or maybe I've been wrong and it is all about the strength and conditioning program (That will become much clearer over the next few years, I'd guess).
Whatever it was, the Giants were among the healthiest teams heading into the playoffs and really as they headed into the stretch run. Considering the toughest part of their schedule was undoubtedly in December, their health played a huge part in their success.