There are plenty of ways to quantify what the Giants have done in the past five weeks.
You can count the number of players who have been shuffled to and from the roster or the millions of dollars spent. You can look at the decisions made, some of which, like the way the larger contracts were structured or the team’s willingness to bring in players who have a history of injuries, seem to go against the way the organization has been handling business in recent years. You can even grab a net and collect the external criticisms that always flitter like butterflies around an offseason spree like the Giants just executed.
But the true accounting of the 2021 free-agency period for the Giants won’t be held to any of those metrics. All of the hand-wringing and number-crunching and speculation will be washed away in just a few months when the team that has been cobbled together this spring — and will continue to be so thanks to the upcoming draft — actually takes the field. That’s when the bottom line for all of this will be seen, either in wins and contention or in losses and disappointment.
For now, though, the architects of this latest phase of Giants rebuilding feel confident they took strides toward reaching the ultimate goal of a sustained winning program. General manager Dave Gettleman summed up the past month or so in just two words when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
"We’re better," he said.
In the binary world of professional football where nothing stays the same, where you either win or lose, improve or deteriorate, the Giants believe these past few weeks have brought them closer to success.
"I feel like our roster is a lot better now than it was at the end of the season," assistant general manager Kevin Abrams said. "I feel good with what we’ve done. I think we’re a deeper, more talented team."
They certainly added some talented players. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay is the headliner of the class followed by cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and the return of defensive lineman Leonard Williams. They also brought in players such as wide receiver John Ross and running back Devontae Booker who could wind up playing big roles if the need occurs.
Those improvements came at a cost, however. Some of them were financial; Abrams, who handles the Giants’ cap space and contract negotiations, noted that the voidable years on some of the new deals are "some practices we normally try to avoid" and that the high spending could make 2022 "a little bit of a challenge" depending on where the cap lands. Others were at the expense of players who the Giants were unable to keep or pursue; defensive lineman and former Giants captain Dalvin Tomlinson, who signed with the Vikings, was someone the team would have liked to keep but could not.
Some of the decisions could even be considered gambles. Gettleman said he was confident in the evaluations of the medical staff on Golladay, Jackson and Rudolph in particular, none of whom was able to finish the 2020 season on the field because of injuries. There were also published but unattributed remarks that Jackson’s three-year, $39 million contract could be disastrous for the Giants.
"My reaction to that is that one of the things that makes America a great place is everybody is entitled to an opinion," Gettleman said of the criticism toward the Jackson deal. "Time will tell."
That’s true, really, of all of the moves that have been made this spring.
"It’s not going to be quantified until the fall and we start playing in September," Gettleman said. "But we feel very good about what we’ve done and we feel very good about the direction the team has taken. We feel really great about that. We really feel we’re building a solid football team that the fans can be proud of."
Time will tell if he’s right.