When the New York Giants parted ways with head coach Pat Shurmur after two rather forgettable seasons, some believed general manager Dave Gettleman would soon join him on the unemployment line.
In the end, ownership decided to fire Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two seasons, and keep Gettleman. The Giants lost seven of eight games to begin 2018 and endured a nine-game losing streak this past season that matched a franchise mark of futility set in 1976. Ownership felt the losses were more the fault of Shurmur rather than Gettleman, who assembled the roster’s talent (or lack thereof).
Of course, it hasn’t been all bad since Gettleman arrived to succeed Jerry Reese.
He revamped the team’s analytics department as well as overhauled the team’s collegiate and professional scouting and grading system. Gettleman also hired a full-time psychologist to help the players. The Giants are projected to have at least $61 million in salary cap space with the potential for even more.
On the other hand, Gettleman is 68 years old and notoriously old school like a certain former Giants head coach recently relieved of his front office position. He has fractured relationships with some of his players with no interest whatsoever in repairing them, the most recent examples being Landon Collins and Odell Beckham Jr.
Some of Gettleman’s personnel decisions have been questionable.
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He said during Monday’s press conference the team was “fine” with bringing back Eli Manning (who turns 39 on Friday) at $23 million against the salary cap for just three starts. Gettleman also said no one will know whether or not the decision to trade Beckham to the Cleveland Browns was a good one for another two years.
One of the most controversial personnel moves of Gettleman’s tenure was the midseason trade for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The Giants sent a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick to their co-Met Life Stadium tenant New York Jets. The 2021 pick could become a fourth-rounder if Williams re-signs before the start of the league year.
The Giants were 2-6 at the time of the trade with Williams set to become a free agent. Gettleman defended the trade as gaining eight games worth of information on Williams using mid-round draft picks.
“Bottom line is we felt it was worth the deal,” Gettleman said. He also pointed out that Williams, who is only 25 years old and just completed his fifth season, told him he wants to re-sign with the Giants.
Mara said Gettleman needs to improve on his personnel decisions.
“We’re all on notice,” Gettleman said.
Gettleman also said if the next head coach persuades ownership to increase the coach’s power in personnel decisions, he would be willing to do whatever is in the best interest of the Giants. He also mentioned meeting with a “big-time analytics guy” in order to expand his knowledge.
Mara said he felt the Giants should have won more games in spite the roster Gettleman assembled. At the same time, Gettleman’s vision has earned him more time albeit with a shorter leash. This is not lost on him though he is confident.
“We’re doing a lot of things behind the scenes…this is where we are going,” Gettleman said. “I know sometimes it’s difficult with the instant gratification piece. That is where we are going. I feel good about the direction we’re in.”