Dave Gettleman hasn't done a cannonball into the free-agent pool. He hasn't thrown around the real big, headline-grabbing money (yet). He hasn't badly overspent to fill a need.
What he's done, in fact, is the opposite of how the Giants approached free agency in 2016, the last time they had tons of cap room to buy new players. He's spent sensibly, found bargains, and hasn't weighed the team down with long, expensive contracts.
And in free agency, that's what the real good teams do.
Don't get caught up in the big names and the headlines, and don't worry that most of the Giants' moves aren't exactly exciting. Yes it's true, there is no Jadeveon Clowney in the Giants' free-agent class (so far), and they certainly don't seem willing to give him the $22 million per year he's apparently seeking. As good as Clowney might look on a Giants defense desperate for a pass rusher, they're not wrong for not handing him a blank check.
Instead, look what the Giants added to their defense: Cornerback James Bradberry, arguably the second best corner on the market, for three years, $45 million; middle linebacker Blake Martinez, who averaged 147 tackles the last three seasons, for three years, $30 million; and edge rusher Kyler Fackrell, who had 10.5 sacks in 2018, the last time he was a starter, on a one-year, $4.6 million, prove-it deal.
They are good players who fill important roles and needs, and none of them will be crushing the Giants financially. All of them have a high ceiling, while Bradberry and Martinez are sure better than the players they are replacing. It's arguable if Fackrell is better than Markus Golden, who had 10 sacks for the Giants last season. But those 10.5 sacks he had two years ago were a full sack more than Clowney had in his best season (9 ½ in 2017).
He's not quite the same caliber of player, but he costs a heck of a lot less. And the Giants are making a bet - a small bet - that he can be just as productive as he once was.
Really, that's what Gettleman is doing here. He's taking short-term bets on solid, unspectacular players. Perhaps just as importantly, they are players that he and his coaching staff know. Gettleman drafted Bradberry out of Samford in the second round in 2016 when he was GM of the Carolina Panthers. And new Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was the linebackers coach in Green Bay in 2018 when he had Fackrell and Martinez.
There's no guess work involved with these players. They know what they can do, and more importantly, how they'll fit into the new defensive scheme.
And all it cost (so far) for those three defenders is $80 million in contracts, and not a dime beyond three years. Compare that to the mess that former Giants GM Jerry Reese created for the team in 2016 when he signed defensive end Olivier Vernon (five years, $85 million), cornerback Janoris Jenkins (five years, $62.5 million) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (five years, $46.25 million). They were all good-but-not-great players. They helped the Giants to just one winning season and one playoff game. And by Year 3, there was a ton of buyers' regret about those enormous deals.
That won't be the case here. If any of these deals are mistakes, they aren't cap-breaking mistakes, and there will be easy ways out in the short-term. They are all relatively low-risk moves with the chance for high reward. And that's the case with the lone offensive player they've signed - blocking tight end Levine Toilolo for two years, $6.2 million - too.
So no, the Giants aren't making a big splash in free agency this year, and there will be many people disappointed by that. But don't be. The big splashes in free agency aren't always the best ones. They are trying to spend their money wisely.
And that's almost always the smart way to go.