5 Realistic Trade Scenarios for the New York Giants to Pursue This Offseason
The New York Giants aren't the type of franchise expected to wheel and deal in the offseason.
I would have said the same thing about the Giants' in-season behavior seven months ago, but in a near-unprecedented move, New York traded a seventh-round pick for Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason. Before the Beason blockbuster, the Giants hadn't agreed upon an in-season trade since they swapped two picks in the 1987 NFL draft for St. Louis Cardinals running back Ottis Anderson—he would later be named the MVP of Super Bowl XXV.
So far, Beason's impact has been equally favorable. The move to acquire him—made out of desperation after four consecutive losses—has solidified an otherwise shaky defensive unit. His effectiveness as a run-stopper stretches from sideline to sideline, as Beason is easily the best to man New York's middle linebacker position since the departure of Antonio Pierce following the 2009 season.
Now, after a 7-9 finish in 2013, the Giants should still feel that same sense of urgency. The successful trade for Beason should boost New York's confidence in the coming months, as the Giants may pursue a more aggressive offseason plan than they typically have in recent years. Perhaps another trade is in the franchise's future.
This article will highlight the five most realistic trade scenarios for the Giants to pursue this offseason.
Trade out of the First Round
It might be that the most likely scenario is to trade out of the first round of the upcoming 2014 NFL draft.
The general consensus is that New York selects an offensive lineman with its first-round selection. If that's the case, it will be the second consecutive year in which the Giants spend a first-round pick on an O-lineman—they took Syracuse's Justin Pugh with the 19th-overall selection in 2013. Some intriguing options projected to be on the board around the time of New York's selection at No. 12 overall include Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Auburn's Greg Robinson and Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
But what happens if a quarterback begins to slide on draft day. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, in his most recent mock draft, projects four quarterbacks—No. 1 Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville; No. 3 Derek Carr, Fresno State; No. 4 Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; No. 5 Blake Bortles, Central Florida—being selected in the first five picks of the 2014 NFL draft. If one of those four slips into the Giants' range, the trade potential for the No. 12 pick could really heat up.
Since the Giants appear to be set at quarterback with iron-man starter Eli Manning at the helm—not to mention with Ryan Nassib behind him—the pick may be more valuable to another franchise in need of an offensive signal-caller. The options are limited, though. Would the Arizona Cardinals be willing to jump up a few spots to draft an understudy to veteran Carson Palmer? Would Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles betray Nick Foles and move up to snag a sliding Manziel?
Maybe not. Perhaps, the most likely scenario involves working out a deal with the division rival Washington Redskins. After trading for the pick that yielded franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III, the St. Louis Rams now own the Redskins' first-round pick in 2014 (No. 2 overall). CSN Washington's Rich Tandler recently argued for the Redskins to trade back into the first round; the Giants could oblige.
In trading away their first-round pick, New York could land an extra second-rounder and likely one or two more mid-round selections. This may come down to a quantity-versus-quality argument.
Trade for Dallas Cowboys O-Lineman
The Dallas Cowboys are in the NFL's worst salary-cap trouble, according to this chart by Over The Cap. The 'Boys will be pinching pennies this offseason, as they look to unload as many contracts as possible. As of February 10, Dallas is projected to be nearly $25 million above the cap in 2014.
The Giants, who will certainly scour all markets for O-line talent, could come to the Cowboys with a trade offer. When it comes to their offensive line, Dallas' focus should be on the development of center Travis Frederick, who is entering his second season, and the evaluation of tackle Tyron Smith, who is entering a contract year. Some other players could become casualties of the cap.
Doug Free is one option to pursue. Free has one season left on his two-year, $7 million deal, and he is due exactly half of that in 2014. The 6'6", 323-pound Free has held down the Cowboys' starting right tackle spot since 2012. Free, who may be more effective at guard, has not missed a start in four consecutive seasons. The Giants, who are hurting for help along the O-line, would happily allow Dallas to dump off Free's contract onto them.
Some other options include guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, who is under contract through 2015. Bernadeau hasn't missed a game in two full seasons with the Cowboys, earning starts at both right guard and center during that time. That's the type of versatility New York usually envies in its offensive linemen.
Center Phil Costa could also be on the Giants' radar. Costa started all 16 games at center for the Cowboys in 2011, but he has since lost his starting job to 2013 first-round draft pick Frederick. Although he played in just three games last season, Jerry Jones saw Costa as the Cowboys' future at center not long before drafting Frederick.
Everyone is a winner in this scenario. The Cowboys lighten their cap load while presumably picking up a draft pick, and the Giants bolster their O-line depth.
Trade Away Will Hill
Are the Giants dealing with a ticking time bomb in safety Will Hill?
A talented prospect who joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Hill has carved out an unlikely niche in New York's defensive backfield. Hill started in nine of the 12 games he appeared in last season, recording 60 tackles and two interceptions—his game-tying pick-six versus the Detroit Lions in Week 16 set the Giants up for victory in overtime.
This shouldn't come as a total surprise. Many were aware of Hill's natural athleticism—his prowess as both a pass and run defender—as an incoming draft prospect. It was his character concerns that kept all 32 teams from selecting him in any of the seven rounds of the 2011 draft. Hill didn't land in New York until a year later, and not all his troubles were left in the past upon his signing as a professional.
Hill was suspended four games in 2012 for performance-enhancing drug use (Adderall). He was again suspended four games in 2013—this time for violating the league's substance abuse policy (marijuana). He was arrested on a warrant related to his child support in the week leading up to his big performance versus Detroit. The Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson has already weighed Hill's impact in light of a possible third suspension in as many seasons.
Second-team All-Pro safety Antrel Rolle, who started opposite Hill for much of last season, is still under contract through the 2014 season. Stevie Brown, who missed all of last season to a torn ACL after having eight interceptions in 2012, is likely to be re-signed as well. Impending free-agent Ryan Mundy may not possess Hill's upside, but he could be a safer talent to lock up.
Another team more desperate for talent in the secondary could make an offer for Hill, as New York could rid itself of a player with a poor tack record in the process.
Trade for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon
I know the title of this article is "realistic" trade scenarios, but is there any move you'd put past the Cleveland Browns right now?
The Browns have had three different coaches (Pat Shurmur 2011-12, Rob Chudzinski 2013, Mike Pettine 2014-?) and three different general managers (Tom Heckert 2010-12, Mike Lombardi 2013, Ray Farmer 2014-?) since 2012, with the most recent whirlwind of activity being Ray Farmer replacing Mike Lombardi at GM. They've already traded away their third overall selection in the 2012 draft, running back Trent Richardson.
It is no wonder 30-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden supposedly wants out of Cleveland, considering the franchise's utter lack of direction.
So, who's to say the Browns won't do something crazy, like trade away the NFL's leading receiver in 2012, Josh Gordon?
The Browns have fielded trade offers for Gordon in the past, but the Northern Ohio franchise wasn't as volatile as it appears to be now. The offer will need to be sweet, however, to reel in a receiver who caught 87 balls for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns last season. The 6'4", 220-pound receiver is particularly threatening to take any play the distance because of his speed; Gordon scored on a 95-yard catch and run in 2013.
Impending free-agent Hakeem Nicks, New York's clear No. 1 wideout since 2010, has been a disappointment. Nicks will likely sign with a new team on the unrestricted open market next month; could you imagine the Giants instead pursuing the league's most dangerous young receiver (Gordon is only 22) in a trade as unexpected as the Richardson deal to the Colts?
Trade Away Jerrel Jernigan
Third-year receiver Jerrel Jernigan put on a grand audition in the final games of the very forgettable 2013 season.
After starting slot receiver Victor Cruz was injured and ultimately lost for the remainder of the season versus the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15, Jernigan finally got his chance to run with the first team. The 5'8", 189-pound receiver shined in the slot, catching a game-high seven passes for 67 yards in a bruising, shutout loss to the Seahawks. He bumped the production up to six catches for 80 yards and his first NFL touchdown in a Week 16 overtime win over the Detroit Lions.
It was Jernigan's Week 17 performance, however, that really sold his ability to make plays in open space. Against the Washington Redskins in sloppy season finale conditions, Jernigan caught six more passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. He also added 57 rushing yards; the highlight of the game was a 49-yard touchdown run on an end-around—it was the team's longest rush of the entire season.
This prompted team co-owner and CEO John Mara to wonder why Jernigan, who's now entering a contract year, didn't get his opportunity to contribute earlier.
How quickly some forget—even team executives. The coaching staff has tried to utilize Jernigan's play-making ability—particularly as a returner—for the better part of the past three seasons, but ball-security issues have tarnished most his chances. For example, he fumbled the opening kickoff of the Oakland Raiders game in Week 10; there was also that single 2011 preseason game when he muffed four punts versus the New York Jets.
Jernigan does not appear to have the hands or the size to be effective anywhere other than in the slot, making him no more than a poor man's Victor Cruz, whose slightly thicker frame allows for serviceable play on the sideline.
However, in a league where slot receivers are on the rise, Jernigan is a candidate to throw into a deal to sweeten the pot with his upside. He may have enough on film for some team to take a bite.