In the end, the Giants went for the safe choice. Now it’s up to Dave Gettleman to prove it was the right one.
With a chance to open up the search for a new general manager and get some fresh perspective from a diverse list of candidates around the NFL, the Giants instead turned to a familiar face in hopes of resurrecting a team that is days away from completing perhaps the most pathetic season in franchise history.
Let’s face it, Gettleman is family for the Giants. He joined the team in 1998 as pro personnel director Tim Rooney’s top assistant, was promoted to pro personnel director when Rooney retired the following year, and remained with the organization until the Panthers hired him as GM in 2013.
He was recommended for the Carolina job by former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, who served as a consultant for the Panthers’ search. And with Accorsi now helping with this year’s Giants search, he again put his faith in Gettleman.
From 2013-16, Gettleman was the general manager of the Panthers. In his four seasons, Carolina was 40-23-1 and won three consecutive NFC South titles. In 2015, Gettleman was named The Sporting News’ NFL Executive of the Year after the Panthers finished an NFL-best 15-1 and advanced to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Broncos. He was dismissed by Carolina on July 17, in large part because of criticism surrounding his abrupt releases of veterans such as cornerback Josh Norman and wide receiver Steve Smith.
“Given where we are as a team, we thought it was important to bring in someone with experience as a general manager and a proven track record,” president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch said Thursday in a statement announcing Gettleman’s hiring. “Dave’s experience is unparalleled. He did an outstanding job as general manager in Carolina, and he was vital to our success during his tenure here. Dave is going to bring his own approach to our organization in how we draft and acquire players through free agency.”
Gettleman was one of four people to interview for the position and clearly had the most experience among them. The others: longtime Giants assistant general manager Kevin Abrams, who had been serving as the interim GM after Jerry Reese’s firing; Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross and former NFL personnel exec and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, a former NFL safety and front-office executive with the Eagles and Redskins.
Gettleman’s track record certainly is impressive. He was a part of three Super Bowl-winning teams and four others that reached the Super Bowl (Buffalo 1990-91, Denver 1997, Giants 2000, 2007, 2011, Carolina 2015).
After Gettleman was fired, the Panthers reached this season’s playoffs under general manager Marty Hurney, who had been replaced by Gettleman but was brought back by the team.
Gettleman’s list of priorities is as complicated as it is long.
He first must find a coach, and he will begin that process as early as Monday. Among the most compelling candidates: Patriots coordinators Josh McDaniels (offense) and Matt Patricia (defense), Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks (with whom Gettleman is very familiar), Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
Then there’s the quarterback. Eli Manning still has two years left on his contract, but with either the second or third overall draft pick, the Giants are expected to take a quarterback. What then? Does Gettleman give Manning a chance to stay and compete for the starting job, or does he move on from the Manning era and hand it off to a rookie, perhaps UCLA’s Josh Rosen?
There are potential contractual issues with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., safety Landon Collins and offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, among others.
It’s a daunting to-do list in what will be a transformative time for the Giants, which is one of the big reasons Gettleman got the job. He’s trusted by ownership, and that gave him a huge advantage. Better to go with the familiar than take a chance.
It’s a safe option, especially given the circumstances. Mara and Tisch can only hope it turns out to be the right choice to turn around a team in utter disarray.