Dave Gettleman telegraphed his plan not to use the franchise tag on S Landon Collins when he spoke to reporters at the scouting combine last week, and he carefully laid out his reasons why. The Giants don't have a lot of cap room. He worried about the "distractions" if Collins was unhappy. He even made it clear he doesn't value safeties as much as some other GMs.
That, of course, wasn't enough to calm the Twitter-storm, or stop the conspiracy theories and ill-placed blame. The reactions ranged from how Gettleman has no plan, to the Giants are about to blow up everything and start over, to my personal favorite - It's all Eli Manning's fault (because, of course it is).
I get it. It was an unpopular decision. I don't even think it was a good one. I think the Giants should have traded him in October if they didn't want to keep him, but I think a 25-year-old safety is a valuable piece to build around. But the hysteria is … well, it's hysterical.
So here's a handy guide to separate the facts from the fiction of this controversial move:
Dave Gettleman doesn't value safeties
That's not completely a fact, but the point is generally valid. We all know that he has a history of not paying defensive backs, and when he was the GM in Carolina, he famously withdrew the franchise tag from CB Josh Norman. At the combine, he also talked about the problem of evaluating safeties in the draft because of how sometimes he can watch several games without them doing anything.
You can read into that as his desire to allocate his resources at more important positions, and that he doesn't think of safety as a high-priority spot.
Giants did this because Collins' shoulder is worse than everyone knows
Not to be glib, but if it is, we don't know that. Obviously the Giants haven't revealed that information. Asked about the torn labrum that ended Collins' season and required surgery, Gettleman said "From what I'm told it's coming along very nicely." Another source close to Collins said "It's not an issue. He'll be ready to go in the spring."
Gettleman, for whatever it's worth, did not list the injury even generally as one of his reservations with using the tag.
After dumping Collins, Gettleman is about to lose the locker room the way he lost it in Carolina
First of all, I don't know how a GM loses a locker room. But, if somehow this causes chaos in the room, then A) It's head coach Pat Shurmur's fault for not getting in front of it and B) The locker room is so weak-minded it should be blown up. Seriously, I get that Collins was a popular leader, and I've heard from players that ranged from unhappy to perplexed about this decision. But they all understand the business. Players come and go. Leaders come and go. Popular players come and go.
You know what will help them all get over it? Winning. And by the way, considering the lack of winning this group of players has done in recent years, why should anyone be surprised that some players are being discarded? Also, here's the CliffsNotes version of what happened in Carolina: A few veteran players were ticked they didn't get the money they wanted as fast as they expected, and their old owner got angry that some of his favorite players got caught in the crossfire of negotiations.
This is all Manning's fault!
OK, Manning is due $11.5 million in salary this year and a $5 million roster bonus in March. The $23.2 million is his cap number and includes a pro-rated part of his initial signing bonus. Regardless, don't blame him. That was the going rate for franchise quarterbacks when he signed his last deal in 2015.
Also, yes, if the Giants were to cut him, they do save $17 million in cap room. But most of that - if not all and more - would go to his replacement. The Giants aren't going to draft a quarterback at No. 6 and start him on Day 1 with no viable veteran behind him. Forget Nick Foles because he might get $20-25 million per year on the market. You want an actual, viable backup - someone who has played recently, not like Alex Tanney.
How about Case Keenum? His cap number was $15 million last season. Even Josh McCown had a $10 million cap number with the Jets. Quarterbacks aren't cheap. So cutting Manning wasn't going to suddenly transform their salary cap situation and change their minds on Collins.
Yeah, but the Giants would've kept him if Manning had agreed to restructure his deal
OK, first a lesson in terms: A "restructure" is different from a "pay cut". If the Giants wanted Manning to take the latter, they'd tell him and his choice would be to take it or leave it, but they'd have to be prepared to cut him and he'd be a free agent. That's not happening.
A restructure is something he's done before and most players have no reason to refuse. It's usually just a simple matter of converting salary to a bonus, which for cap purposes, can be spread out over the remainder of the deal. Think of it as if your employer said to you "Instead of weekly checks, can we give you your entire yearly salary now?" Umm … yeah! It's a no-brainer.
One thing, though: Manning is in the final year of his contract. There are no future years into which they can spread his cap hit. So the only way to "restructure" would be to add years to his contract, which I'm assuming those people who are already anti-Eli wouldn't want the Giants to do.
Giants are clearly tanking so they can get one of the quarterbacks in 2020
I promise I will believe that if they trade Odell Beckham Jr., and trot out Tanney or Kyle Lauletta as their starting quarterback on Opening Day. Until then … just stop it. Aside from the impossibility of tanking in football, John Mara would never allow it. And here's what Gettleman said when asked if the Giants should wait until then to find their Quarterback of the Future...
"I know that people are talking about the guys next year - the Oregon kid (Justin Herbert) and the kid from Alabama (Tua Tagovailoa)," he said. "It's like, really, you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Someone drops a bomb on this table right now, we're all dead. You know what I'm saying?"
Having been at that table, yes, yes I do. His point is you never know what could happen. Those great 2020 quarterbacks, including Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, could get hurt. They could stink next year and their stock could drop. They could stay in school. Or the Giants might not be in a position to draft any of them. It's why Gettleman said "I stay in the moment."
Gettleman just doesn't have a plan
Well, you may not like his plan, but he has one. He and Shurmur have made it pretty clear they think they can make it to the playoffs this year - yes, with Manning - by adding a few pieces along the offense and defensive lines. Clearly, he thinks the $11 million he would've spent on Collins can be put to better use by spending up front. He inherited a team with a flawed roster with not a lot of salary cap space, and in a capped sport, building a team is all about asset allocation. At what positions do you want to spend your money?
That being said, what happens next is key. Presumably Gettleman will add offensive linemen and pass-rushing help in free agency. If not? Well, I'll be scratching my head with you.