And so, the great roster deconstruction of 2018 continues …
This time, it is mercurial cornerback Eli Apple, who made as much news off the field as he did with his maddeningly inconsistent play. First-year general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur were willing to see Apple through fresh sets of eyes, but they saw the same woefully inadequate and underachieving defender as the Jerry Reese-Ben McAdoo tandem did.
The Giants dealt Apple to the Saints on Tuesday for a fourth-round pick next year and a seventh-rounder in 2020 – little more than a ham 'n' egg sandwich when you consider that Reese took him 10th overall in 2016. That’s a gigantic swing-and-miss at an important position for any team, particularly the Giants, who need all the help they can get in the secondary.
Not even 2 ½ seasons into his tenure with the Giants, Apple has been banished. He certainly showed flashes, but he didn’t come close to developing into the cornerback expected of a top-10 pick. He played only 30 games, missing time with injuries and running afoul of McAdoo with behavioral issues that resulted in a one-game suspension last season after Apple nearly came to blows with assistant coach Tim Walton during a practice.
Apple finished his Giants career with one interception.
Here’s how futile Apple’s run was: Can you name three memorable plays in his time here?
Didn’t think so.
Apple must be considered among the team’s biggest busts ever, yet another example of just how miserable the Giants’ draft performance has been in recent years. Apple is the second top-10 pick the Giants have tossed this season; Ereck Flowers, their No. 9 overall choice in 2015 who struggled through most of his career at left tackle, was dismissed after just five games. Flowers was signed by the Jaguars, whose football operation is headed by former Giants coach Tom Coughlin.
You whiff on a first-round cornerback and a first-round left tackle, then you’re in trouble. And the Giants are in big, big trouble.
Apple was about as frustrating a player as you can have in an NFL locker room. Gifted with exceptional talent, he was criticized privately by teammates for not having a strong work ethic, and he frequently grated on them and coaches. Highly respected safety Landon Collins last year labeled Apple “a cancer” during a radio interview, and although Collins was forced by McAdoo to apologize publicly and privately, there was no putting that comment back in the bottle.
There was always a sense of detachment about Apple, a feeling that he simply didn’t care about what happened to his team or to his teammates. Gettleman and Shurmur clearly saw that and decided to get something for him while they could. With less than a week before next Tuesday’s trading deadline, that's what they did.
And it may not be the last move Gettleman makes in the coming days. Now that this team is almost officially done at 1-6 – even in a pathetically weak NFC East – the Giants are in rebuild mode. A once-promising season has been buried under the weight of Eli Manning’s declining skills, a brutally ineffective offensive line and a defense that has been good but not great.
Shurmur hasn’t distinguished himself, either, especially with his decision-making in Monday night’s 23-20 loss to the Falcons. Gettleman’s moves also are open to second-guessing, starting with his belief that Manning still had good years left and that there was no need to find his successor just yet.
Apple’s ouster may have been an easy decision, as was the move to cut Flowers. But Gettleman still has a long way to go toward rebuilding a team that has been the NFL’s biggest disappointment this season.