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DeAndre Baker could be latest Giants first-round draft pick who comes up short

DeAndre Baker of the Giants looks on after

DeAndre Baker of the Giants looks on after missing a chance for an interception during the fourth quarter against the Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

If DeAndre Baker never plays for the Giants again — and given the serious nature of the charges he faces in Florida, that is one of the likeliest outcomes — he will join a very long and growing list of Giants first-round picks who did not sign a significant second contract with the team. And even among those who did get a long-term deal, their futures with the Giants turned out to be short-term instead.

Only three of the Giants' first-round picks in this century have signed a new contract or extension longer than three years with the team. The most recent was Odell Beckham Jr., who inked a five-year extension in August 2018 and was traded seven months later.

Before that, Jason Pierre-Paul signed a four-year contract in March 2017. In March 2018, he was traded.

The only other first-round pick the Giants really wanted to stick around was Jeremy Shockey, who signed a five-year extension in 2005. Yup, he was traded after the 2007 season.

What about Eli Manning, you say? Because the Giants did not draft him but traded for him on draft day in 2004, he is exempt from this discussion. It’s worth noting, however, that Mr. “Once a Giant, Always a Giant” retired at the end of the 2019 season having fulfilled all of his contractual obligations to the team. He also stepped away as the highest-paid player in NFL history, having made about a quarter of a billion dollars in salary and signing bonuses.

Injuries befell some of those other first-round picks before they could be re-signed. Kenny Phillips, Hakeem Nicks and David Wilson will forever live in the what-might-have-been category.

Other first-rounders simply went away in free agency when their rookie deals expired, such as Justin Pugh and Prince Amukamara. Mathias Kiwanuka stuck around from 2006 to 2014 on a series of shorter-termed deals, having never cashed in on a big megadeal. And the Giants got rid of Ereck Flowers and Eli Apple before their rookie contracts even played out.

Next up with a chance to break the two-decade skid will be Evan Engram. The Giants used a fifth-year option on the tight end for the 2021 season, so he will become a free agent in March 2022. They also are likely to contemplate extending Saquon Barkley, the first-round pick in 2018, before that. That could become a priority as soon as next offseason.

Then, at some point, the Giants will have to make a decision on Daniel Jones and determine if he is the long-term answer at quarterback they believe he can be. They have until March 2024 to do that, although if they want to keep him and follow the precedents they set with Manning, they’ll sign him before that and avoid his ever playing in a contract year.

Dexter Lawrence, one of three first-round picks in 2019 along with Jones and Baker, can be kept on his rookie contract until 2024 as well.

Until one of those players signs and sticks around, though, the 21st century will continue to be one in which the Giants have a very bad track record with their first-round picks.

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