This has become the bye week for the Giants.
They’ve now said just that – “Bye!” – to a pair of their starting defensive players in trades, the latest move coming Wednesday morning, when they shipped tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison to the Lions for a fifth-round pick in 2019. That move came less than 24 hours after they traded cornerback and former first-round pick Eli Apple to the Saints.
And they may not be done yet. The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 30, giving the Giants another few days to continue to accumulate assets for their future at the expense of productive players on their current team. Giants players who have any value whatsoever and are not part of the team’s long-term plans should probably keep a suitcase packed just in case.
“This is kind of part of the business,” linebacker and defensive captain Alec Ogletree said Wednesday. “It’s a tough situation, but that’s the league we’re in … You definitely wish those guys were still here.”
Despite the team’s 1-6 record, the news came as a shock to many. Dalvin Tomlinson was driving to work Wednesday when his phone went berserk. Everyone wanted to know his reaction to the latest development. Only problem was, he didn’t know what they were asking about.
It wasn’t until later that he found out that the Giants had traded his fellow defensive lineman.
That trade of Harrison leaves Tomlinson, a second-year player, with the longest active starting streak on the entire team. He’ll reach 24 Sunday against the Redskins.
“I didn’t know that one,” Tomlinson said. “That’s a surprising statistic.”
With the two latest departures, the Giants have just 16 players on their 53-man roster who were part of the organization at the end of the 2017 season.
Harrison, 29, is one of the NFL’s top run-stoppers. The former Jet signed a five-year, $46.5-million contract as a free agent with the Giants in 2016. The Giants will save about $4 million in salary-cap space on the deal this year. The Lions, if they keep Harrison, will pay him $6.75 million in 2019 and $9 million in 2020.
The perception – and to a certain extent the reality – is that the Giants no longer are invested in 2018. Pat Shurmur is fighting hard to keep that mentality away from his team.
“The ‘giving up on the season’ narrative, I think, is disrespectful to the guys in the locker room,” he said. “This is an ultimate team sport and teams have ways of dealing with things.”
“We’re not throwing in the towel at all, man,” said cornerback B.W. Webb, who figures to have his role expanded with Apple’s departure. “It’s disrespectful to everyone here to hear somebody say we’re tanking or something.”
How would Webb prefer it to be framed? He didn’t really know.
“It’s a business and things happen,” Webb said, “but it’s really none of my business.”
Shurmur said he told the team formally about the trades in a meeting Wednesday, but most were already aware. Some had even expressed their opinion on it. Safety and defensive captain Landon Collins, in a Twitter exchange with former Giant and current Lions linebacker Devon Kennard who was gloating over his team’s acquisition, admitted he was “very” mad about the trade.
“We were presented with some deals, we made a couple trades, and we’re moving on,” Shurmur said. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the roster.”
This year’s or next’s, apparently.
“Guys who are here, we have to focus on this year,” Ogletree said. “We can’t worry about next year, we have to do what we can while we’re here.”
It was only seven months ago that the Giants traded for Ogletree in an effort to improve the team. Now he’s left watching teammates go out the door.
“It’s a business and sometimes it’s not always pretty,” he said. “Some things you just can’t explain.”