The New York Giants fired Pat Shurmur after compiling just a 9-23 record over the last two seasons, but general manager Dave Gettleman, the brain trust behind the Shurmur hire and the failed attempts to make the Giants roster better over that same time span, was given a second chance to rectify his mistakes after being retained for 2020.
One of Gettleman’s most controversial decisions was the Leonard Williams trade he made at the deadline this past October, as the Giants parted ways with a 2020 third-round pick (No. 68 overall) and a fourth or fifth-round pick in 2021 for eight games in a season many believe was already lost based on New York’s record (2-6) at the time of the deal. Williams finished with 26 tackles, a forced fumble, 11 quarterback hits, and a 0.5 sack with the Giants — not exactly what they were hoping for.
“I had heard rumors that [Williams] was available, so I called to ask,” Gettleman said as he defended the Williams trade Tuesday, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I thought we got fair trade value. When you are in the trade business, you want to get to a win-win. Most people are savvy enough where it’s going to have to be fair.”
“Bottom line is we felt the juice is worth the squeeze.”
Another decision meant another chance for Gettleman to defend it with a fruitless expression. The reality is simple — the Giants could have waited until free agency to squeeze the juice while keeping the draft picks, especially since they will have slightly over $67 million in available cap space come March. Gettleman’s philosophy — bringing in Williams would sure up the Giants’ run defense — but that didn’t exactly happen. The Giants were fourth in yards per carry allowed (3.4), but were 20th in rush yards allowed (113.2) and still allowed 28.2 points (third-most in the NFL).
Despite the lack of production on paper, Gettleman seems determined to keep him around. If the Giants sign Williams, that 2021 fifth-round pick becomes a fourth and they will surely be paying him a salary above the $14.2 million per season he’s making this year. Signing Williams to a massive deal could hinder the Giants’ ability to improve in other areas in free agency, a price they didn’t have to pay in the first place if Gettleman didn’t decide to justify a trade.
“Now we know what we have, and we were willing to do that,” Gettleman said. “We felt we needed him.”
The Giants will be implementing a new scheme with James Bettcher out as defensive coordinator, so no matter where Williams goes he will be learning a new defense. That could shy him away from the Giants unless they pay top dollar for Williams.
New York would get a mid-round compensatory pick if Williams walks, but that’s not of equal value to what the Giants gave up. A real head-scratcher.
“At the end of the day, we felt good about him,” Gettleman said. “He did what we wanted him to do. He wants to be here.”