The Giants have been out of playoff consideration for some time now, though have already looked to the future by turning the team over to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
What do head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman need to do between now and the start of the 2020 season, in order to set up New York for success next year?
Start scouting inside linebacker prospects
After watching Ezekiel Elliott run all over the Giants defense on Monday night, inside linebacker has to be high on the list of Gettleman’s priorities this offseason. That upgrade is likely to come via the draft given that the most notable projected free agents at the position are likely to be 30-year-old Danny Trevathan and New England’s Kyle Van Noy.
Gettleman has dedicated draft resources to the middle of the defensive line by drafting Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence and trading for Leonard Williams from the Jets. But it was apparent against the Cowboys that New York needs a run stuffing linebacker at the second level.
Elliott was able to hit the holes created by Dallas’ vaunted offensive line, and even able to create extra yardage on cutback runs.
Move on from Solder, Ogletree and Jenkins
Together left tackle Nate Solder, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, make up around $46 million of the 2020 cap hit for the Giants. That’s a tremendous amount of money to dedicate to three underperforming veterans.
Initially, Gettleman might explore the offseason trade market, though if that fails, cutting Jenkins and Ogletree would only accrue a $7 million cap hit. Solder’s contract is trickier given the amount of dead money left on the Giants roster if they cut him. The premium attached to the left tackle position though means that Gettleman might find a more willing suitor who believes they can get the former Patriots blindside blocker performing at the level that persuaded the Giants to hand him such a hefty contract.
Shurmur and defensive coordinator James Bettcher could utilise the rest of the season to see what they have in previous supplemental draft pick Sam Beal, who was recently reinstated from injured reserve. Beal, along with 2019 draft pick Deandre Baker, comprise a young secondary duo. It would make sense to see what they can do before deciding whether the Giants dip their toe in the free agency pool next season to add veteran moxie, such as Denver’s Chris Harris.
Continue to add talent around Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley
The Giants’ future success unsurprisingly rests on the continued development of first round rookie Jones. The ex-Penn State signal caller surprised many analysts with his play in the Big Apple this year, though needs to utilise the rest of the year to work on his ball security.
Whilst the interior of the O-line is young and talented with Aaron Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, upgrading the quality at tackle will enable the Giants to utilise Barkley’s speed and explosiveness on outside runs, whilst helping to avoid defensive pressures forcing Jones into turnovers.
There is some talent at the skill positions, with Evan Engram an athletic pass catching tight end and receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate acting as a dependable duo at wide receiver. Adding a true game breaker though, such as one of the Alabama pair Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III, would obviously be welcomed by Shurmur. It may be more likely to be a position addressed either in the second round or later in the draft given the needs of the Giants on defense and at offensive tackle.