EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took two months for Giants GM Dave Gettleman to publicly defend his inexplicable trade for Leonard Williams.
Now that he has, it makes even less sense than it did before.
Not that Gettleman was swayed, of course. He stood strongly behind what so far is, unfortunately, his signature deal. Even with hindsight, he had no issue with sending two draft picks to the Jets for a two-month rental of a free-agent-to-be in the midst of a 4-12 season.
Or to put it in Gettleman-ese: "The juice was worth the squeeze."
That's cute, but no it wasn't. In this case he was given lemons, but that wasn't lemonade that came out.
What Gettleman was trying to explain on Tuesday, in his first press conference in more than five months, was that it was worth the price of a third-round and a fifth-round draft pick just to get an up close and personal look at the 25-year-old Williams so the Giants could evaluate whether they should sign him long-term or not. And if they did choose to sign him, they believed it would be easier to do while Williams was part of the organization, before he hit free agency, even though that would change that fifth-round pick to a fourth.
Never mind that Gettleman could have gotten an in-person evaluation of Williams by literally walking across the Meadowlands parking lot to MetLife Stadium eight times during the year. And never mind that he probably could have learned the same things about Williams from afar, still tried to sign him in March, and kept those two picks which the Giants could most certainly use.
Gettleman stood by his illogical move and tried to cover it with what he considered logic - logic that made no sense at all.
"We felt we needed him," Gettleman insisted. "Again, we felt good about it and we feel -- and he's proven -- he's disruptive in there. He improved our rushing defense with him in there. He buzzes around the quarterback. We've just got to get him to finish now. But the bottom line is we felt it was worth the deal."
Every word he said had everyone watching saying "Yeah, but …" As in: Yeah, but why would a team that was 2-6 at the time of the trade need anyone that cost two draft picks for the final two months of the season? Adding Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Donald for the final two months wouldn't have been worth a 3 and a 5 in the midst of a 2-6 season if they were simply going to walk away on March 18.
And OK, Gettleman is pretty confident the Giants are going to re-sign Williams, who has publicly said he's looking for an enormous contract, though realistically is probably going to have to settle for something less. "He was in my office yesterday," Gettleman said. "And he told me he wants to be here."
Yeah, but … He hasn't signed yet. What if he doesn't? Didn't the Giants just throw away two valuable picks for nothing at all? Gettleman insisted that if that happens, those two draft picks would be at least partially recouped because "If we hold our water, we'll get a third-round (compensatory pick)" in the 2021 draft - though that's not completely true, nor is it a fair representation of how the comp picks work.
Regardless, this bizarre trade wasn't about the comp pick. It was apparently about the inside look. But that doesn't seem to be nearly enough to justify the high cost. And given that Williams, the sixth overall pick of the 2015 draft, had just a half-sack this season and has had only 7.5 in the last three years, wasn't there a pretty good chance that the Giants could've signed him in March anyway? His market isn't going to be huge. He already seemed to love New York. Did two months with the Giants really change anything about his situation?
And isn't two draft picks for a rebuilding franchise a really high price to pay for a player they could've gotten anyway in a few months?
"Well, that's hypothetical," Gettleman said. "I understand what you're saying, I really do, but at the end of the day, we felt good about him. He did what we wanted him to do, and he wants to be here."
Yeah, but …
And never mind that Williams hasn't exactly been an impact player. He's always been a better player than he gets credit for, of course. That "hidden production" that is often mocked does matter. But he's not the dominant pass rusher the Giants so desperately need. He is disruptive. But Williams is more of a complementary piece.
That's what the Giants saw. That's what they learned from this two-month evaluation. But again, everyone knew what Williams was. Why not keep those precious draft picks and just wait?
"Because now we know what we have," Gettleman said. "And we were willing to do that."
And round and round and round it went.
This sure seems like one of the "misses" Giants co-owner John Mara talked about Monday, even though Gettleman clearly sees it as draft capital well spent. It's just hard to see any scenario where what he spent would be worth it in the end. The only way this deal makes any sense at all is if the Giants somehow sign Williams to a below-market deal long before he hits free agency. Yes, they could use the franchise or transition tag on him, but that would be so expensive this whole thing would make even less sense.
That may be hard to fathom at this point, though. A deal that made little sense at the time makes no sense now and the long-awaited explanation is nothing but a head-scratcher. It turns out that this deal that seemed so inexplicable at the time really does have no logical explanation at all.