Dave Gettleman will begin his first full day as the Giants general manager on Friday, and he won't need anyone to show him around the office. He also won't need an update on the Giants' many problems.
He already knows.
The big question, though, is this: How is he going to fix this mess? How is he going to restore the Giants to what they were when he left in 2012.
The Giants were still a contender then, one year removed from a Super Bowl championship. Now they are 2-13, en route to 2-14, with a 36-year-old franchise quarterback who might not be around next season and no obvious answer to how he'll be replaced. They have a crumbling offensive line that anchors an offense that has gone 30 straight games now without scoring 30 points, and a defense filled with huge salary cap numbers that has redefined the word "dysfunction" this year.
They also have contractual issues with star receiver Odell Beckham, discipline issues with former first-round pick Eli Apple. The franchise is broken, and it really has been since they won Super Bowl XLVI at the end of the 2011 season - now two coaches and a general manager ago. Since then they've had two winning seasons, one playoff berth and no playoff wins in six years and a dismal record of 41-54 (.431).
So how can Gettleman fix this mess? He can start, by following this simple, 10-step plan:
1. Mend fences with Eli Manning, name him the starter for 2018, but tell him to be prepared for a transition. The Giants were 11-5 a year ago, so with a healthy Beckham and a few fixes (like along the offensive line), there's no reason the Giants can't be a playoff team next year. But they don't have another quarterback ready to lead them. Manning can still do it, even at age 37. So give him the job, but let him know change is coming. If it's handled correctly -- unlike the mess Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo created a few weeks ago -- it can be done smoothly. Manning will know he's the man as long as the Giants are winning in 2018, but he'll also know that if next season goes wrong, it will become someone else's turn.
2. Draft a QB at No. 2. If the Giants pick in the top 2 (they almost certainly will be) and USC's Sam Darnold and UCLA's Josh Rosen come out, it would be football malpractice not to take one of them. Scouts think they're special (and many feel the same about Wyoming's Josh Allen). Given the franchise QB is 37 and the Giants have a chance to replace him with a player who might carry them for 10 years, they have to do it (even if they really like Davis Webb, who could always be a future trade chip). Otherwise, they might spend 10 years searching for a QB. That would be bad. Just ask the Jets.
3. Fix the O-line, starting at left tackle. Gettleman loves his "hog mollies" - those big men in the trenches - so it's a given that he'll start his rebuilding effort right here. And enough with the rewritten "narrative" that Ereck Flowers has shown promise at left tackle. He's shown promise that he might not be awful, but that's not good enough for a No. 9 pick heading into Year 4. He's only 23, so it's OK not to give up on him completely, but he can play right tackle. Or guard, if the Giants prefer. They need to fortify the line, probably with a left tackle and two guards at least.
4. See if Justin Pugh and/or Weston Richburg will return at a bargain rate. That might be a tough sell for Pugh, who wants to be paid -- and he might strike it rich despite his bad back. Richburg is more likely to return because he wasn't playing well before he missed much of the season with a concussion. Pugh is a good guard. Richburg still has plenty of potential, even though Brett Jones played pretty well in his absence. The Giants shouldn't break the bank for either, but they could be valuable at the right price. (This, by the way, is a perfect job for Kevin Abrams, an expert negotiator who is expected to stick around as Gettleman's top assistant).
5. Hire a veteran, proven head coach. Given what transpired, Mike Smith or Doug Marrone -- who essentially finished second and third when McAdoo was hired -- would've been better choices because they already knew the demands of a head coach and how to handle themselves publicly and privately. That's where McAdoo failed the most. Gettleman is said to like Steve Wilks, the Panthers defensive coordinator. Maybe he'll be a great coach. But right now, the Giants need someone who knows how to manage the locker room, put out the inevitable fires, and who has the credentials to command respect when things go wrong. Going the young, unproven route is risky. Sure, they could find the next Sean McVay. They could also end up with another McAdoo. One great choice, by the way, would be Bill O'Brien if he doesn't return to the Texans.
6. Hold off on that Beckham extension. Everyone is in agreement that Beckham should be here forever and should get paid ridiculous amounts of money. But what's the rush? He's due $8.4 million next season and the Giants can franchise him after that, and even again after that, so he won't be a free agent for a while. Sure, he might skip the offseason program again. He might do that anyway. But he's coming off a bad ankle injury. Let's see what he can do when he returns. Everyone is sure he'll be the same star he always was. Hopefully that's true. But everyone thought that about Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz after their injuries, too, and they weren't.
7. Get to work on that Landon Collins extension. His deal is also up after the 2018 season, and the Giants can't franchise both him and Beckham. Since he's healthier and his cost won't be as high, he should be the priority. Collins is exactly the kind of player and leader they should want anchoring the back end of their defense for years. He's due $1.2 million in 2018. The going rate for top safeties is around $13 million per year with guarantees of probably around $20 million. A five-year extension worth $65 million or so isn't ridiculous. They should work on it in the offseason and he can sign it during the summer. They can time it around when and how it'll help their cap the most.
8. Bring back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but at a reduced salary. With a salary of $6.4 million and a cap number of $8.5 million, it was long assumed Rodgers-Cromartie was gone this offseason, especially with the emergence of Eli Apple, and definitely after his walkout/suspension earlier this year. Then a funny thing happened: Rodgers-Cromartie settled down and emerged as a leader and team spokesman, and Apple went into full meltdown mode. Rodgers-Cromartie is very popular in the locker room and always has been. A new coach could use a few guys like him. Not at that price when he'll be 32 next year, but he might be willing to take a cut to stick around.
9. Shop Apple around the draft for picks. This obviously got much harder over the last week, with his suspension and with a teammate calling him a "cancer". Still, he's only 22 and is enduring a rough year professionally and personally. Giving up on him would be a mistake. But it's been so bad -- and so many of his teammates have soured on him -- that it's worth a few calls to gauge his value. He's not that good that he's not replaceable. And as a former first-round pick with a relatively low cost, he might bring a mid-round pick in return. Who knows? The value could be higher if the Giants are able to void the guaranteed money left on his contract, which they now believe they are able to do.
10. Be available to the media (and, by extension, the fans). Warning: This was not a strong point for Gettleman in Carolina, but it's worth revisiting in his new job because New York is not Charlotte. Reese viewed most of the media (with a few hand-picked exceptions) as the enemy and a distraction. He spoke publicly five times per year, plus during the draft, and only issued canned statements otherwise. He never explained his big decisions or free-agent moves, and only spoke on the state of the team at the bye week or after the season was over. He was much more accessible early in his career when things were going well. Regardless, fans deserve better. I know no one cares who the media feels, but fans want explanations, they want to hear from the people in charge so they know there's a plan, especially when things are going wrong. Hiding was a terrible choice. Gettleman is a likeable - and well-liked man - who was easy to talk to when he was operating behind the scenes. He needs to embrace that side of himself publicly in his new role. Because if he can't handle explaining himself in a press conference every now and then, then he's probably not equipped to handle the pressures of the job - and New York.