The parallels are uncanny. To borrow from the late, great wordsmith Yogi Berra, Giants fans desperately hope it doesn’t turn out to be déjà vu all over again. The Giants’ frenzy of
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The parallels are uncanny.
To borrow from the late, great wordsmith Yogi Berra, Giants fans desperately hope it doesn’t turn out to be déjà vu all over again.
The Giants’ frenzy of free-agent signings this past week is reminiscent of their flurry in 2016 when they doled out some $144 million in guaranteed money to free agents Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison as well as the re-signing of Jason Pierre-Paul.
We all know how that worked out: An 11-5 season in 2017 that proved to be nothing more than fool’s gold and was followed by 36 losses in 48 games the next three seasons before Joe Judge was hired as head coach last year.
Olivier, Jenkins, Harrison and Pierre-Paul?
While each was overpaid — such is life on the free-agency front — none played so poorly to be considered “bust’’ signings. But they eventually had a ball-and-chain effect on the team’s salary cap and all were gone by the end of the 2018 season.
They didn’t help the team win, and isn’t that the point?
As the saying goes: “We can lose you with you and we can lose without you.’’
So now, with the signings of receiver Kenny Golladay (four years, $72 million, $40 million guaranteed), cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (three years, $39 million, $26.5 million guaranteed) and their franchise-tagged defensive lineman Leonard Williams (three years, $63 million, $45 million guaranteed) this past week, the two-dollar question is whether these players will equate to wins and a sustained run of playoff berths?
The 2016 signings didn’t do that. The Giants hope the 2021 signings will.
Even for his most ardent skeptics (and there are many), it’s difficult to fault Giants general manager Dave Gettleman for these moves, because he’s clearly going for it, trying to win now.
He signed the best available players on the market at their respective positions in Golladay and Jackson. And Williams is coming off the best year of his career, with 11.5 sacks, and is only 26.
If you’ve listened to sports radio the past couple of days, the talk about the Giants and their offseason moves has been nothing short of ebullient. The Giants are the champions of the offseason to date and Gettleman is “Mr. March.”
The Giants, of course, need Gettleman to be “Mr. September through January’’ and maybe even beyond.
After the Giants’ miserable 4-12 season in 2019, co-owner John Mara said Gettleman knows that his “batting average has got to increase going forward,” adding, “We need to win more games, and Dave knows that.’’
The Giants, under Judge last season, won two more games they did in ’19 and Gettleman is still employed. So, two more games apparently was enough from ’19 to ’20.
Based on the money committed and the time Gettleman has been given — he was hired in December 2017 — a two-win improvement from ’20 to ’21 will not be enough. This is certainly Gettleman’s last stand. It’s playoffs or the unemployment line.
But for Gettleman, who at 70 perhaps is not far from serious thoughts about retirement anyway, what does he have to lose? The $111.5 million in guaranteed money to Williams, Golladay and Jackson isn’t his money after all.
But the risk is great with at least the Golladay and Jackson signings considering that they played a combined eight games in 2020 because of injuries — Golladay playing in only five with a hip flexor and Jackson only three with a bad knee.
If Golladay is the receiver he was in 2018 (70 receptions for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns) and 2019 (65 for 1,190-11 TDs), then he’s a home-run signing, worth all the money.
If Jackson is who he was before last season’s injury-riddled 2020, then the Giants have two of the game’s premier cover corners with him opposite James Bradberry.
So many parallels between 2016 and 2021. Both years featured the overpayment of a good-but-not-great player (Vernon in ’16 and Golladay now), a cornerback signing (Jenkins in ’16 and Jackson now) and a former Jets defensive lineman (Harrison in ’16 and Williams now).
Scary parallels when you consider how those moves turned out.
A Google search of those 2016 Giants signings produced a January 2017 story by The Ringer. The headline read: “The Giants’ 2016 Free-Agent Class Has Been Historically Great’’. And the first paragraph of the story went like this: “How did New York’s defense turn from one of the league’s sorriest units into one of its best? Look no further than a trio of high-priced signings that could change the complexion of the playoffs.’’
That, of course, didn’t age well.
For the sake of Giants fans, who’ve enjoyed one winning season in the past eight years, hopefully the skepticism raised in this column doesn’t age well either a few years — and playoff berths — down the line.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mark Cannizzaro