Joe Judge made a defiant promise to Giants fans on Monday that “this is definitely going to get better.” And maybe someday, it will.
But it’s not going to happen any time soon, and certainly not by the NFL’s trading deadline on Nov. 2. That means the Giants, if they’re active at all at the deadline, need to become sellers.
That is, if anyone thinks they have anything to sell.
Obviously the cupboard is a bit bare when it comes to valuable players on their roster. But there are a few who maybe could bring at least a little something in return. The Giants have to be smart, though, since they’re not expected to be active in free agency next spring — thanks to a lack of salary cap space, they should be in line for a high comp pick or two if they let enough contracts expire after the season. So there is some value in keeping all their expendable players around for now.
But they still need to look to see if anyone is willing or desperate enough to give them a mid-round pick for one of these players who either don’t, or possibly won’t, fit into the Giants’ long-term plans. This season is over. It’s time to start planning for whatever comes next.
So who’s on the block or who might have some value on the market? Here’s a short list:
TE Evan Engram
He has so much talent, but has been so unreliable and such a frustrating player to watch. The Giants kept hoping he’d put it all together and stop dropping passes, but after five seasons, little has changed. Still, there’s a market for a player with his skills. When the Eagles traded tight end Zach Ertz to the Cardinals last week, the Bills and Colts were reportedly interested, too.
And the Bills are probably a little more interested in acquiring a tight end today now that their TE, Dawson Knox, is out with a broken hand. The Eagles got a fifth-round pick and a player (rookie cornerback Tay Gowan) for Ertz, who is much more valuable than Engram. The Giants won’t do better than that, but even a fifth alone would be a good return for a player who has no chance of re-signing with the Giants next year.
The 26-year-old hasn’t quite become the impact player the Giants hoped he would be when they got him in the Odell Beckham, Jr. trade, but he’s still a favorite of the current front office. Ideally, they like him and Xavier McKinney as their long-term back end of the defense. The question, though, is: How much do they like that idea? Because safeties get paid a lot in free agency these days.
Peppers may not get into the Jamal Adams $17 million-per-year stratosphere, but $12-13 million per year in free agency isn’t out of the question, especially since the Giants just gave Logan Ryan $10 million per year. That’s a problem considering the Giants are projected to be right up against the salary cap next spring. They might not be able to afford to bring him back.
Dealing him would’ve been unthinkable a year ago when he was a Pro-Bowler and one of the Giants’ two best players. But his fall-off this season has been dramatic. Plus, the cap-strapped Giants can’t ignore that dealing him would clear about $12 million in salary cap space for next offseason.
They’d be left a little thin at corner with Adoree’ Jackson and a lot of question marks, but that might be a risk worth taking. Bradberry’s value could be pretty high, too, considering he’s only due about $1.1 million in salary the rest of this season and a non-guaranteed $13.4 million for next year. A second-day pick in return isn’t out of the question.
Trading one of their better offensive linemen is probably not a great idea given how injuries have decimated this unit, and there’s probably not much of a market for him anyway. The 26-year-old has been much better this season, but if a team is looking for offensive line help it’s hard to imagine they’d even consider calling the Giants. Still, given the Giants’ cap situation, it’s even harder to see how they can bring Hernandez back next season. He might be more valuable if they keep him around and let him walk for help in the comp pick formula.
TE Kyle Rudolph
The Giants’ decision to give him a two-year, $12 million contract looks even stranger now that he’s had just 13 passes thrown in his direction (catching eight) in the five games he’s played. Sure, he can block, but blocking tight ends can be found for much less. Rudolph is about to be 32 and his best days are behind him, but he can still catch and be a decent red-zone target for a tight end-needy contender (Hello, Buffalo?). He probably wouldn’t get more back than a conditional late-round pick, but a deal would clear $5 million in cap space off next year’s books.
OT Nate Solder
Laugh if you want, but he’s still a veteran tackle with an expiring contract and wouldn’t cost much (about $2 million in salary) for a contender that needs a little help or depth along their offensive line. Yes, he has looked very done at times and he’s 33. But maybe some team thinks he could be fixed in their system. If someone offers a seventh, the Giants should jump all over that. With LT Andrew Thomas currently hurt and RT Matt Peart struggling, dealing Solder would be a risk … but, is it really?
It’s not going to happen. The current front office loves him too much, and he has value to the organization beyond what he does on the field. Plus, he’s got a sprained ankle and is still only a year removed from a torn ACL and no team is going to give up much for damaged goods like that. Still, running backs are dropping all around the league. Just look no further than Cleveland (Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt) or Carolina (Christian McCaffrey) or Kansas City (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) or Baltimore (everyone) or … you get the idea.
If Barkley can prove he’s healthy the next two weeks, he might be able to give someone’s offense a jolt. And the Giants right now have to at least be rethinking whether they really want to build around a player who’s been hurt in each of the last three seasons and whether he’ll be worth a long-term investment when his contract expires after next year. Again, they’re not going to do it. There’s no way they get good enough value in return. But the thought has to be worth a couple of calls, right?