The unravelling of Eli Apple has reached a new depth.
The second-year cornerback was suspended by the Giants on Wednesday afternoon after a meeting with interim general manager Kevin Abrams and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
“We have suspended Eli for a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team,” Abrams said in a statement.
The last straw, according to a source, was Apple’s refusal to participate with the scout team in Wednesday’s practice. He then had a verbal altercation with a coach over the issue. According to ESPN he had to be physically restrained from position coach Tim Walton.
Apple was in the locker room after the practice but refused to stop to talk to reporters, making a crude scatological comment on his way out of the area. By then, the source said, the organization was already intent on suspending Apple for his behavior on the practice field. The meetings with management were a formality.
These were just the latest issues the Giants have had with Apple, their first-round pick from a year ago. He has been inactive on defense in five of the past six games despite being healthy enough to play. The first four of those games he was not in uniform for, then on Sunday he was active but played only special teams.
Apple’s immaturity first started to become a problem earlier this season when, according to a report, he twice threatened to leave the facility after a brutally honest film evaluation that illustrated his lack of hustle in the game against the 49ers.
Teammates have tried to guide Apple through this season as both veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins spoke about their heart-to-heart conversations with him. Apple denied ever having those discussions with Collins, which led to a feud between the two of them.
Collins said on Tuesday in an interview on ESPN Radio in New York that Apple is “a cancer.” He said on Twitter on Wednesday that he apologized to Apple and Spagnuolo in a meeting early in the day.
“I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins posted on Twitter. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”
The Giants may not have liked the way Collins phrased his thoughts on Apple, but they apparently agree with him.
Apple is the third cornerback to be formally suspended by the team this season. The Giants also disciplined Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins earlier in the year when Ben McAdoo was head coach and Jerry Reese was the general manager.
Spagnuolo offered no indication of a conflict when he addressed the media after practice despite many questions about Apple. In fact, he spoke glowingly of the conversation he had in the morning with Apple and expressed optimism that the young player can still become a solid player and good teammate.
“Maybe I think a little bit differently than most people, but I always believe that in a person, that something positive can happen,” Spagnuolo said. “There can be positive change. I’m not a person that gives up on people just in general, so I certainly wouldn’t do that in this case.”
The Giants, though, may be about to give up on Apple. If they are, suspending him clears the path financially. The Giants should be able to get out of most of the remainder of Apple’s four-year, $15.1 million rookie contract which he signed as the No. 10 overall selection in 2016. That contract was fully guaranteed, but many contracts include language that voids the base salaries if a player is suspended.
Whether his career with the Giants is over or not remains to be seen. That decision will likely fall to the next general manager and head coach.
Apple’s season, though, is now officially in the books. And it serves as a bizarre final chapter to what has been a miserable season for the Giants.