Ever since they started selling off pieces — which really began last offseason with the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul, continued through the season with trades of Damon Harrison and Eli Apple, and reached a crescendo this week when they shipped Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to the Browns — the Giants have seemed to be lost between two schools of thought.
Are they blowing up the roster, as the jettisoning of young, talented players would indicate, in the name of a full-blown rebuild? Or are they focused on the now, on having a successful 2019 season, as sticking with a 38-year-old quarterback and signing a 35-year-old safety to help replace a 25-year-old three-time Pro Bowler suggests?
On Wednesday, shortly after many of the most recent moves became official with the start of the league year at 4 p.m., general manager Dave Gettleman said yes. To both.
The Giants, he essentially announced, are on two concurrent courses at the moment.
“You can win while you build a roster,” he told the team’s website.
And for those who think he has no clue what he’s doing, he offered this:
“We do have a plan, and this is a part of it.”
How well that plan works remains to be seen. A lot of that determination will come from what the Giants do with their picks. In the Beckham blockbuster — which began as two separate deals that merged into one — the Giants acquired two starters in safety Jabrill Peppers and guard Kevin Zeitler, as well as two picks from the Browns (17th and 95th overall). That gives the Giants 12 picks heading into the draft in late April, including two in the first round (they already had the sixth overall).
“As we continue to build this team, you need draft pick capital,” Gettleman said. “This trade enabled us to do that.”
They also will get help from the players they acquired. The Giants see Peppers as the equivalent of getting a first-round pick (he was one for the Browns two years ago, and the Giants were high on him then) and Zeitler as a key piece in their offensive line’s overhaul.
“That really adds another piece to the offensive line repair that we have going,” Gettleman said of Zeitler. “Now, we have most of the line under control for the next couple years. It’s a great opportunity for us to build stability on our offensive line. We’re excited about that.”
The Giants still need an upgrade at right tackle and some defensive playmakers. They are expected to sign safety Antoine Bethea, who will turn 35 before the season, to a free-agent contract Thursday after he arrives in New Jersey for his physical. The team agreed to a two-year deal with him this week. And they are still hanging onto the notion of using the “Kansas City Model” to bring in a young quarterback and groom him behind Eli Manning for a year or more (or less). The 17th pick offers them more opportunities to do so. They could address a bigger need such as pass rusher with their sixth overall selection, then take a quarterback such as Missouri’s Drew Lock or Duke’s Daniel Jones in the middle of the first. There are many who believe the Cardinals may put quarterback Josh Rosen on the trading block if they intend to select Kyler Murray first overall. That could be an intriguing option for the Giants with their slew of picks.
As for the principals involved in the trades, they remained as civil as you would expect them to in quotes through their team-run websites. On the players he traded away, Gettleman said simply: “The New York Football Giants would like to thank Odell Beckham Jr. for his contributions. We truly wish him well in Cleveland, and we want to wish OV the best and nothing but success for both of them.”
Beckham, in a quote through the Browns’ website, called his move a “fresh start” and added: “I will always appreciate the opportunity the Giants granted me and I’m thankful to them along with the fans and people in that city for supporting me.”