SNY NFL Insider

Ralph Vacchiano

Ralph Vacchiano, award-winning sports reporter and columnist, joined SNY in 2016 as its NFL Insider. Vacchiano will cover the Giants and Jets beats for SNY.tv and be a regular contributor to "Daily News Live" and "GEICO SportsNite." Vacchiano comes to SNY following 15 years as the New York Giants beat writer and columnist for the New York Daily News.

 

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Vacchiano graduated from Syracuse University in 1991 and began his professional career covering the Buffalo Bills for the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and later covered the Giants and Jets for the North Jersey Herald & News in Passaic, N.J.. During his 19 years at the Daily News, he also covered the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils (1997-2001), and in 2008 he wrote his first book, Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback (Skyhorse Publishing).

 

Vacchiano lives with his wife, Kara, and his daughter, Alexandra, in West Caldwell, N.J.


Teddy Bridgewater (5) Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Teddy Bridgewater (5) Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Teddy Bridgewater was terrific in the Jets' preseason game in Washington on Thursday night and through two games he's looked like the best quarterback on the roster. But such is the state of the Jets' quarterback riches that nobody's asking the 25-year-old about his chances to win the Jets' starting job. 

Instead, all he seems to get are questions about a possible trade. 

Not surprisingly, Bridgewater wants no part of the discussion. He answered repeated questions about it on Saturday after practice in almost exactly the same way...

Tags: Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rolls out against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rolls out against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Pat Shurmur was standing just a few feet away from Teddy Bridgewater back in the summer of 2016 when the quarterback suffered his horrific knee injury. And he was there in Minnesota to watch how hard Bridgewater fought to get back.

So he knows as well as anyone why it would be a mistake to count Bridgewater out.

"The only thing I would say is, 'Don't sleep on Teddy,'" the current Giants coach said. "Because he's got it in him."

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New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rolls out against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rolls out against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Pat Shurmur was standing just a few feet away from Teddy Bridgewater back in the summer of 2016 when the quarterback suffered his horrific knee injury. And he was there in Minnesota to watch how hard Bridgewater fought to get back.

So he knows as well as anyone why it would be a mistake to count Bridgewater out.

"The only thing I would say is, 'Don't sleep on Teddy,'" the current Giants coach said. "Because he's got it in him."

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New York Giants quarterback Davis Webb passes during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants quarterback Davis Webb passes during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

One week after it looked like the Giants made a huge mistake in not drafting their quarterback of the future, Davis Webb reminded everyone why it might have been a little ridiculous to write him off after one preseason game.

Don't overreact to this one either, but the 23-year-old Webb looked like a completely different quarterback on Friday night in Detroit when he started in place of resting veteran Eli Manning. He looked calm, comfortable and poised -- a stark contrast to the wild, amped thrower he was a week ago. And he completed 14 of 20 passes for 140 yards in the Giants' 30-17 win over the Lions.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There's a long way to go in the preseason, but halfway through, one thing about the Jets quarterback situation is clear: Teddy Bridgewater looks like he gives the Jets the best chance to win.

Yet Todd Bowles can't give him the starting job.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) talks with wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) talks with wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

Saquon Barkley is among the Giants' most precious commodities, and after not practicing all week against the Lions, they certainly won't risk him in the preseason game in Detroit on Friday night.

The truth is, they shouldn't risk him in the rest of the preseason at all.

There simply is no point, not with a player as important as Barkley, and not with a body part as tricky as a hamstring. The Giants are calling his injury a "mild strain" and even privately they seem convinced that it's not at all serious. But hamstring injuries have a way of lingering and recurring as soon as they're pushed.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Darnold, Bridgewater face Skins 00:01:19
Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater both saw significant action in a preseason loss to the Redskins on Thursday night.

The education of Sam Darnold continued with another strong performance from the rookie quarterback on Thursday night. He's done just about everything the Jets have asked him to do so far.

But if the Jets really want to see if he's ready to be their Opening Day starter, they're going to have to ask him to do more.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sam Darnold (14) Teddy Bridgewater (5) Josh McCown (15) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Sam Darnold (14) Teddy Bridgewater (5) Josh McCown (15) Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

LANDOVER, Md. - Sam Darnold got a lot of work with the Jets' first-team offense this week, and might even start their preseason game against the Redskins on Thursday night. Maybe that's just Todd Bowles' way of getting him ready.

Or maybe it's a sign that he already is.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 1, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes during training camp in East Rutherford. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK (Danielle Parhizkaran)
Aug 1, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes during training camp in East Rutherford. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK (Danielle Parhizkaran)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - On the first play of practice, Will Hernandez, the Giants' feisty rookie guard, ended up grabbing the facemask of a linebacker, and they looked ready to fight until teammates and coaches rushed in to break it up.

That was Monday. The linebacker was his teammate, B.J. Goodson. And the practice was being run at half speed.

So imagine what could happen when the Giants and Lions begin three days of intense joint-practices in Allen Park, Mich., on Tuesday morning.

Tags: B.J. Goodson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Darnold makes his debut 00:04:28
Should Jets fans believe in Sam Darnold after his impressive rookie debut Friday night?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It would've been understandable if Jets fans wanted to be only cautiously optimistic that they had finally found their franchise quarterback. A decades-long search and far too many broken promises have left everyone with scars.

But the caution around Sam Darnold is probably gone now. He looked like a legitimate franchise quarterback on Friday night in his NFL debut.

Tags: Josh McCown, Neal Sterling, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley rushes against Cleveland Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah during first half at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley rushes against Cleveland Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah during first half at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Leave it to Eli Manning, the savvy veteran and picture of calmness, to add the perspective to what Saquon Barkley did on Thursday night. Barkley's debut run was dazzling, a 39-yard showcase of patience, smarts, elusiveness, burst and speed. It was everything everyone was expecting from the Giants' super-hyped rookie.

Right?

Tags: Davis Webb, Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: When Todd Bowles looks at the tape of the Jets' preseason opener there will probably be several hundred things he'll be watching. He'll be evaluating all 90 players on his roster. He'll be judging the competitions for a dozen or so roster spots and a few position battles too.

But nothing -- nothing -- will be more important and compelling for the Jets in their preseason opener on Friday night than how rookie quarterback Sam Darnold plays.

Maybe it's not fair to judge him on how he does in his NFL debut against the Atlanta Falcons. But he is the No. 3 overall pick and the Jets' long-awaited quarterback of the future. Every move, every throw, every decision will be scrutinized. His play, no matter how long he's in the game or how he does, will lead to pages and hours of debate.

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Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes against Cleveland Browns defensive back Damarious Randall (23) during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes against Cleveland Browns defensive back Damarious Randall (23) during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Saquon Barkley just might be the most hyped rookie in Giants history, and the first time he touched the ball in a Giants uniform he certainly lived up to it all.

It may have only been one moment, but it was a great moment - a 39-yard run by the second overall pick on the first play from scrimmage. Yeah, so he only had four yards on his other four carries in the Giants SCORE loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. But that one run was enough to delight the sparse crowd - especially the many (and there were a lot of them) who showed up wearing his No. 26 jersey.

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The easiest decision Pat Shurmur will have to make this preseason is to sit his all-world wide receiver in the preseason opener on Thursday night. Why would they even dream of risking their best player while he's still technically recovering from ankle surgery in this completely meaningless game?

They almost certainly won't. And that knowledge is enough to make almost everyone change the channel or keep the TV off entirely while the Giants play the Cleveland Browns. But it might be worth rethinking if that is, indeed, your plan. Because there are a few compelling reasons for you to watch this game even though No. 13 likely won't play...

Tags: Davis Webb, Eli Manning, Ereck Flowers, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Over the next month (or months) there will be a lot of talk about Odell Beckham's contract. There will be leaks about the negotiations. There will be debates about his value. And there will be confusion, because sometimes "talks" don't mean they're talking, and "value" might depend on how you do the math.

So how will you survive the seemingly endless news cycle until Beckham gets the money he is so sure he deserves? And how can you possibly join (and win) the debate when there's so much seemingly conflicting news?

Here's how: Our guide to separating fact from fiction when it comes to the Odell Beckham contract … a.k.a. How to sound smart when arguing about Odell's inevitable (and lucrative) deal:

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Every moment on the field is like a dream for Teddy Bridgewater. He said "it gives me the chills" just thinking playing football again. Two years ago, the game was almost taken away from him forever, so he's grateful to be getting a second chance.

But even he doesn't know if that second chance will ultimately be with the Jets.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Beckham's contract negotiations 00:03:28
Maria Marino and Marc Malusis are foaming at the mouth over Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract extension negotiations with the New York Giants.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Everybody relax.

The first round of talks between the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr.'s agent didn't produce a deal, which is absolutely no surprise to anyone who understands anything about how contract talks work. It's also not surprising that the Giants' initial offer was low -- or at least lower than they know they'll eventually have to pay. And it's also probably not a surprise that Beckham's camp has leaked details, apparently in the hope that it will pressure the Giants to immediately up their offer (Spoiler alert: It won't).

Try to ignore the noise, though, and see the bigger picture. The Giants are intent on signing Beckham to a long-term deal and according to a team source they understand it will likely make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL when it's done. They hope they can get a deal done by Opening Day, or at the latest early in the season. That position hasn't changed...

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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When will Darnold start at QB? 00:01:54
Ralph Vacchiano and Connor Hughes discuss what rookie quarterback Sam Darnold needs to do to prove he's worth the starting spot.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It was 16 years ago, but the memory is still fresh for Jets quarterback Josh McCown: the feeling of being overwhelmed in his first NFL preseason game.

"That first series it felt like they had 15 guys on the defense," McCown recalled on Monday. "There were people everywhere. I wasn't processing very good. At all." 

It's a long way from the meeting rooms and practices of training camp to the first live action for NFL rookie, and that's especially true for quarterbacks. That's why the preseason games, which begin for the Jets at the Meadowlands on Friday night, will be so important for first-round pick Sam Darnold. Everything he's done so far has impressed everyone in the organization, in some cases beyond their expectations.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Odell Beckham finally spoke to the media on Saturday, taking questions (with the exception of a brief, two-question interview in June) for the first time in 10 months. So for the first time we gained insight into how he feels about his ankle, his contract, and those wild trade rumors from back in March.

Here are some of the biggest and most important quotes from the Giants' biggest and perhaps most important star:

On how his surgically repaired ankle feels: "I don't really feel it. I don't really feel it, I don't think about it much. Well, I try not to. It's still always there, but I'm getting back as close to 100 [percent] as I can for right now. So it's been a long process. I can say that."

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Eight newly minted Pro Football Hall of Famers will officially take their place in Canton on Saturday night, and it's easy to envision Eli Manning doing the same sometime around 2025.

The truth, though, is his road to Canton may not be so easy after all.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The NFL is doing its best to prevent players from dangerously banging their heads into each other this season. But the result of their effort is going to be a lot of people banging their heads against a wall.

That's because not even the players are completely clear about what is and isn't a penalty under the NFL's new helmet rule - a rule that makes "lowering the head and initiating contact" with any part of an opponent's body, not just the head, a 15-yard penalty at least.

Tags: Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Oct 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Urban Meyer, one of the most successful college football coaches of this generation, is suddenly under fire at Ohio State, where he's been accused of ignoring and covering up allegations of domestic abuse against one of his assistant coaches. He's been placed on paid leave, while the university investigates his behavior.

Meanwhile, his reputation among his former players remains strong.

Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins became the latest to express that loyalty on Friday, when he hailed Meyer as "a great coach" and "nice guy" despite the allegations against him.

Tags: Janoris Jenkins, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets first round draft pick Sam Darnold works out during NFL rookie camp, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Jets first round draft pick Sam Darnold works out during NFL rookie camp, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It was an unexpectedly difficult contract negotiation that lasted a few days longer than anyone expected. And for a while, it seemed that neither side was particularly happy with the demands of the other.

For Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and agent Jimmy Sexton, that probably seemed like business as usual. They've been through plenty of contract battles before and understand how they work and why.

But what about Sam Darnold, the 21-year-old Jets quarterback who was holed up near the Jets' facility, waiting this out, and experiencing it for the first time? Will there be any hard feelings over how the Jets played a little bit of hardball with him?

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws the ball during New York Jets rookie mini camp at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws the ball during New York Jets rookie mini camp at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It never should have lasted as long as it did, and it probably could have been done easily three months ago, but at least the Jets and Sam Darnold finally resolved their differences and settled on a deal.

And it looks like a win-win with each side getting a little of what it wanted before the holdout began.

Everyone has long known the basics: It's a four-year, fully guaranteed deal worth $30.25 million, with a $20 million signing bonus and a fifth-year team option. Here's how Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and Darnold's agent, Jimmy Sexton, ironed out the other issues that were holding up the deal, according to a source familiar with the contract talks:

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - For four days, as Sam Darnold waited nearby at an undisclosed location, his absence felt like a big deal for anyone who has ever followed the Jets. The star-crossed franchise finally found its Quarterback of the Future, but of course, for the Jets, everything couldn't be smooth.

Four days, though, is not an eternity or even an NFL career, even though it felt that way to some. The important thing is that Darnold is here now, filled with the same talent and promise as the day he was drafted.

His mini-holdout really doesn't matter in the long run. What matters is that the Sam Darnold Era has finally begun.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sam Darnold gets the slow clap 00:00:27
Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold ends his holdout and finally takes the field on Monday, and gets the slow clap from his Jets teammates.

Jets QB Sam Darnold's holdout is finally over. 

The two sides finally finished off the rookie's fully guaranteed, four-year, $30.25 million contract on Monday afternoon, according to an NFL source, and the Jets' Quarterback of the Future was at the team facility and ready to sign it. His deal will include a signing bonus of about $20 million and a team option for a fifth year.

Those details were set long ago, thanks to the rookie pay scale in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. But despite having three months to work out the other details, the two sides were stuck in recent days on "offset language" and "forfeiture language." The "offset" is about how much of the guaranteed money the Jets would be responsible for if they cut Darnold during his deal and he signed with another team. And the "forfeiture" clause would allow the Jets to void the guarantees in his contract if he's suspended or fined by the NFL...

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws a pass during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws a pass during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets and Sam Darnold's agent, Jimmy Sexton, are engaged in a stupid game of chicken with the rookie's contract negotiations that at this point isn't benefitting anyone. Both sides are digging in offer issues over clauses and contract language that almost certainly won't matter at all.

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Darnold has now missed three days of Jets practice and six days of meetings, and there's still no sign that this holdout is ending. There is plenty of blame to go around to be sure. The two sides had three months to sort this out. And yes, Darnold understandably has entrusted Sexton to handle business for him, so it's hard to fault him for letting his agent do what he thinks is best.

But you know what? Sexton works for him. And it's time Darnold takes control and ends this mess before it's too late.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold works out during the team's NFL football organized training activities, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Sam Darnold missed his first full training camp practice on Friday because he still hasn't signed his contract. And there's absolutely no good reason why that was the case.

Holdouts are nothing new in the NFL, of course, but they are absolutely ridiculous for rookies under the current collective bargaining agreement. There's virtually nothing to negotiate. Darnold is going to get a fully-guaranteed, four-year contract worth around $30.5 million with a $20.2 million signing bonus whether he signs on Friday night, next week or sometime in September. It will include a fifth-year team option, too.

The details that are holding this up - "offset language," according to one team source - are not at all worth fighting for, not at the expense of four days of work (the rookies were due to report early) and even one minute of practice for a player who has a real chance to be the Jets' Opening Day starting quarterback. In the long run, will one or two missed practice hurt him in what the Jets hope is going to be a long career? No.

Tags: Sam Darnold, Ralph Vacchiano
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May 11, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley speaks to a reporter before rookie minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS (Danielle Parhizkaran)
May 11, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley speaks to a reporter before rookie minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS (Danielle Parhizkaran)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning has been "impressed" with Saquon Barkley. Tight end Evan Engram said the rookie is "ahead of his time." Linebacker Kareem Martin said "he can do everything." Even co-owner John Mara could barely contain his excitement about Barkley's "unlimited physical skills" that add "a completely different dimension" that the Giants offense hasn't had in quite a while.

That, by the way, was one sentence before Mara conceded there is one thing that scares him about Barkley:

The hype.

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Jul 17, 2018; Marina del Rey, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold during the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards at The Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)
Jul 17, 2018; Marina del Rey, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold during the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards at The Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

The beginning of the much-anticipated Sam Darnold Era will have to wait a little longer.

Darnold, the Jets' latest franchise quarterback and the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft, officially became late for his first training camp when he failed to report with the rest of his teammates on Thursday morning, and even missing the Jets' first team meeting later in the day. He is one of two first-round picks still unsigned, joining Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, who was taken eighth overall.

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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There have been times in Odell Beckham Jr's career when he seemed too temperamental for his own good, or when he made strange decisions and invited unnecessary problems that threatened to overshadow what a great player he truly he is.

But whatever the 25-year-old superstar has been in the past -- a player his former GM once publicly told to "grow up," and one that pushed the limits of the Giants' patience over the years -- even his worst critics have to give him credit for what he just did. Pushed to a crossroads in his life and career by the Giants, who were legitimately tired of his controversial nature, Beckham did what very few expected him to do.

He let his actions speak more than his words. He proved he was ready to grow up. He showed he could fully commit to their program. He stayed out of trouble, put his head down and worked hard, and bucked the trend around the league by refusing to holdout...

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr locks arms with punter Brad Wing and tight end Jerrell Adams (89) and offensive lineman DJ Fluker during the national anthem prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)
Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr locks arms with punter Brad Wing and tight end Jerrell Adams (89) and offensive lineman DJ Fluker during the national anthem prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jerry Jones has already demanded that his Cowboys stand for the national anthem this season. Christopher Johnson, meanwhile, has promised to pay the fines for any Jets players who choose to kneel.

But Giants co-owner John Mara isn't ready to lean in either of those directions on the NFL's national anthem problem just yet, not until the league and the NFL Players Association have had a chance to talk about the whole thing.

"There will be meetings fairly soon and there have been discussions about the anthem policy," Mara said. "Hopefully we will be able to come to some sort of resolution that everybody can buy into."

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John Mara on Odell contract 00:00:41
New York Giants co-owner John Mara addressed talks for a new Odell Beckham Jr. contract, saying "I think those will start pretty soon."

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr's good behavior over the last few months is about to really pay off.

Giants co-owner John Mara said on Thursday that negotiations on a new, lucrative, long-term contract with his star receiver will begin shortly.

"I anticipate that we'll be speaking with his agents sooner rather than later," Mara said. "I'm not going to give you an exact timetable on that, but I think those will start pretty soon."

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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The missing piece for the Jets finally seems to be in place, now that Sam Darnold has arrived as the young, franchise quarterback they've been dreaming of for decades. And that's what this summer is all about for the Jets: The growth of Darnold, and how quickly he'll really arrive.

That process begins on Thursday, when the full team is due to report to camp -- assuming Darnold has signed his rookie contract by then. Everything else around the Jets is window dressing, part of the slow, steady rebuilding effort with an eye on maybe contending next season.

Darnold, though, is the key. So how will he do, and will the rest of camp go for the Jets? Here are five bold predictions for what to expect between now and Opening Day...

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Buster Skrine, Chad Hansen, Jamal Adams, Jordan Leggett, Josh McCown, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, Morris Claiborne, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The first training camp under new head coach Pat Shurmur is a critical one for the Giants, who have spent the offseason acting like a team that believes it can be a contender, one year after finishing 3-13. To do that, they need everything to go right, and they desperately need to stay healthy.

The quest for that begins on Wednesday morning when the full-team reports to camp.

And with questions looming over everything, from Odell Beckham, Jr. to Eli Manning to their formerly dysfunctional defense, how will training camp go for the Giants? Here are five bold predictions for what to expect between now and Opening Day...

Tags: Eli Apple, Eli Manning, Janoris Jenkins, Nate Solder, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The most conventional wisdom on how to win in the NFL has always been simple: Championship teams need a quarterback, and players who can disrupt the quarterback. Almost always, the latter was interpreted to mean pass rushers.

Tags: Darrelle Revis, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Odell Beckham Jr. is apparently a man of his word. He promised "no holdout," and it appears there will be no holdout. He's acted in good faith towards the Giants this offseason. He's done everything they've asked him to do.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison (98) takes the field for action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison (98) takes the field for action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Giants have high expectations for a big, bounce-back season, which means they'll head to training camp this summer with plenty of optimism. Camp begins on July 25 when the full team reports, though rookies, quarterbacks, and injured players will come in a few days earlier, on July 22.

Here is Part 2 of what to look forward to when Giants training camp begins...

An aggressive, happy defense

Tags: Eli Apple, Landon Collins, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Giants have high expectations for a big, bounce-back season, which means they'll head to training camp this summer with plenty of optimism. Camp begins on July 25 when the full team reports, though rookies, quarterbacks, and injured players will come in a few days earlier, on July 22.

Here is Part 1 of what to look forward to when Giants training camp begins, which will be followed by Part 2 on Friday...

A healthy and motivated Odell Beckham, Jr.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) celebrates with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) after Enunwa scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) celebrates with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) after Enunwa scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The never-ending rebuilding loop that the Jets always seem to be stuck in finally seems to have an end in sight. And they will have plenty of high hopes for the future when the full team reports for training camp on July 26.

Here is Part 2 of what to look forward to when Jets training camp begins...

The return of Quincy Enunwa and a better-than-you-think receiving corps

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, Leonard Williams, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Terrelle Pryor, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire runs with the ball as Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert and outside linebacker James Burgess bring him down during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets running back Elijah McGuire runs with the ball as Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert and outside linebacker James Burgess bring him down during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | ArchiveThe never-ending rebuilding loop that the Jets always seem to be stuck in finally seems to have an end in sight. And they will have plenty of high hopes for the future when the full team reports for training camp on July 26.

Here is Part 1 of what to look forward to when Jets training camp begins, which will be followed by Part 2 on Thursday...

The rise of Sam Darnold

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Buster Skrine, Darron Lee, Elijah McGuire, Jamal Adams, Jordan Leggett, Josh McCown, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham looks on before a play against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham looks on before a play against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Odell Beckham, Jr. promised he won't hold out, but sources in his camp insist a holdout is still on the table. Pat Shurmur said he expects Beckham will show up to camp on time, but team sources say they're not so sure about that. Beckham wants a new contract, but there's no indication he'll get one any time soon. And there are still five weeks to go until the Giants report for training camp, and any of that could change at any time.

So while you're biting your nails for the next few weeks wondering if the Giants' best player will show up or not, and pondering just how ugly his contract negotiations could get (or not), here's a primer on where everything stands with Beckham, the Giants, and his contract as of right now, and a look at where this whole thing may eventually go...

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Vacchiano on Odell Beckham Jr. 00:01:34
Ralph Vacchiano discusses Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s plans for training camp in July, and what this means for the Giants organization.

METUCHEN, N.J. - Odell Beckham Jr. promised he will be in training camp with the Giants this summer and that he won't be a holdout when camp opens on July 25 in an interview with SNY at his youth football camp on Saturday morning.

Those were Beckham's first comments on his plans for the summer and his unresolved contract situation, and the first clue about how much of a hard line he's willing to take. Just before he left the first day of his camp, he was asked by SNY if we'd see him at training camp and he said "Yes sir. Yes you will."

So no holdout, Beckham was asked? "No," he told SNY. "No holdout."...

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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See the Jets in minicamp action 00:00:59
SNY captures the highlights, routes and deep throws at New York Jets minicamp on Thursday.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets are heaping praise on the shoulders of their prized rookie quarterback, but to them it's more than just dreamy hype. They're not just trying to sell everyone on the promise of Sam Darnold. They believe it. In fact, so far he's been even better than they expected.

That's why he has "a real chance" to be the opening day starter, according to a team source.

The 21-year-old Darnold has been that good since the Jets took him with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. They've been giving him regular first-team reps throughout the spring and through this week's three-day mini-camp. And given how well he's handled them, this summer he can expect even more.

Tags: Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nate Solder (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)
Nate Solder (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -The Giants dodged a major injury scare on Thursday after Nate Solder, their $62 million left tackle, hurt his right leg when he ended up in a pile of bodies on one of the final plays of minicamp - right before rookie guard Will Hernandez and veteran defensive tackle Damon Harrison ended up in a wild fight on the field.

The injury to Solder, though, turned out to be nothing serious after he was examined by doctors on Thursday afternoon. "All good," according to an NFL source.

For a while, that wasn't certain. Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said that after getting an on-field update "I think he's fine." However Solder sounded a little less certain of that after practice, especially since he hadn't been checked out by doctors yet.

Tags: Nate Solder, Ralph Vacchiano
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May 21, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) during organized team activities practice at Quest Diagnostic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
May 21, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) during organized team activities practice at Quest Diagnostic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: It's your move, Odell.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur set the stage for the much-anticipated contract showdown between the Giants and Odell Beckham, Jr. on Thursday, when he said he expects his star receiver will report on time for training camp on July 25.

Shurmur also said he has "no reason to believe" that Beckham won't be able to fully participate -- including in the team drills he sat out this week.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) runs off the field during the halftime break of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) runs off the field during the halftime break of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Two famous former Giants - and famous friends of Eli Manning - were in complete agreement on Saturday night about how the franchise they love had "wasted" the prime years of Manning's career.

Shaun O'Hara and Justin Tuck were absolutely right.

Those years were wasted with poor personnel decisions, too many draft choices that never made an impact, and an unbelievable combination of neglect and wrong moves along an offensive line that too often crumbled in front of the franchise quarterback.

Tags: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) blocks during an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns. (AP)
New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) blocks during an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns. (AP)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For the first time, Ereck Flowers admitted the obvious: He wasn't happy when the Giants signed Nate Solder, or that he was forced to move from left tackle to right. "Of course," he said, it bothered him. How could it not?

So maybe it took him a little too long to get over the hurt, but Flowers is now able to dismiss that emotion. "It's … whatever, now," is how he put it. His focus instead, he insisted, is on making that transition to right tackle, trying to get better as a player, and proving to his coaches and critics that he can still play in the NFL.

And perhaps even more importantly, he wants to prove that to himself, too.

Tags: Ereck Flowers, Ralph Vacchiano
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