After arguably the most eventful offseason in recent Giants history Big Blue still has hopes of bringing the fifth Lombardi trophy to East Rutherford. However they are going to have to do it without the star that most Giants fans were sure would be the integral piece of that championship, 3x Pro Bowl WR Odell Beckham Jr.
On March 12, 2019 is when the NFL world was shaken by the breaking news of Beckham Jr. being traded to the Cleveland Browns. For many (even outside of the organization) this was a move that was hard to understand.
Sure, they haven’t won a playoff game since they won the Super Bowl during the 2011 season but at times this team seemed like it was moving in the right direction to return to playoff glory, and throughout that time OBJ was the undeniably their best player.
“I was a little shocked at first,” said WR Sterling Shepard. “I will miss him in a lot of ways. I learned a lot from him on the field. That’s like a brother to me.”
To make it even more interesting Eli Manning first found out about the news from the ticker at the bottom of a TV screen, followed by some texts.
Okay enough sulking. If this storied franchise is going to press on and get back to its winning ways there are some other things the team has to get acclimated to first. Most notably, many new faces.
Over the offseason the Giants signed WR Golden Tate, S Antoine Bethea, also in the OBJ trade they got S Jabrill Peppers, G Kevin Zeitler. Not to mention they have 12 picks in this year’s draft that’s just days away.
Speaking of the NFL Draft, there’s been a lot of talk for the majority of this season about whom the Giants will take at the number 6 pick. Specifically, which quarterback because even from early on in the season Manning was looking like unreliable Manning. Critics have torn into Eli for the better part of his career despite winning two Super Bowls and being the MVP of those Super Bowls, but this year more than any other year it’s safe to say.
During the 2017 season under coach Ben McAdoo Eli was benched for the first time in his career. Right or wrong this was the first time that he actually had to face the music for his inconsistent play.
Therefore between that benching and the Giants’ 1-7 start this past season draft experts started predicting who Big Blue will most likely select with the 6th overall pick next Thursday in the draft.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. out of Ohio State is who most predict will be that pick.
He is 6’3” 231 lbs. and ran a 5.04 40-yard dash at the combine.
“I can see the Giants getting a young quarterback,” said Eli Manning. “I understand that. I still have to do my job. I will do my part. Same as last year. Go out there, play quarterback, win football games. That is what I am trying to do.”
For a guy that claims to not pay attention to any of the outside noise, the 3x league leader in interceptions seems like he’s now aware that he can be replaced.
If you’re like many Giants fans that want that replacement to be effective immediately don’t get your hopes up just yet though.
“This narrative that Eli’s overpaid and can’t play is a crock,” said General Manager Dave Gettleman. “With the way we ended the season, and what he’s making, there really wasn’t a decision to make [to bring him back].”
To go along with these kind words, Gettleman and the Giants also added on a $5 million roster bonus last month.
Therefore even if the Giants do select a quarterback at no. 6, it’s likely that that quarterback will only get preseason minutes and learn under Eli during the regular season this year.
So besides Eli what other familiar faces are around? Not many. Besides Odell there are also some notable subtractions from this team including S Landon Collins and DE Olivier Vernon to name a few.
There is one familiar face however in WR Sterling Shepard, who just signed a four-year contract extension worth $41 million plus a $10 million signing bonus.
Shepard, who is only approaching his 4th season in the league, is actually now the leader of the wide receiver core for the Giants.
“I think Odell going down kind of helped me with leadership,” said Shepard. “Being able to handle guys coming to me for some help on the playbook, or whatever it may be. You go from having a guy like Odell and having a guy like Brandon Marshall…in the room, and now you’re the only one that’s kind of looked at for advice. Like I said I feel like I have been prepped for that, and I’m ready for that.”
If you follow Shepard off the field you know he’s an overall good-spirited guy. On top of that it’s been an eventful 13 months for him. He’s become a married man, welcomed a baby girl into the world, and now has about $51 million more reasons to be happy.
“New me who this?” is what the kids like to say these days, hopefully things are looking just as good for the Giants overall this season as well.
In the NFC East where all three other teams have gotten better (the Cowboys resigning DeMarcus Lawrence, The Eagles bringing back DeSean Jackson and the Redskins signing Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), the Giants are for sure going to have to do better than the 5-11 season they had last year.
For what it’s worth they’re playing with house money this season and teams that don’t have much to lose tend to do better.
Now we just wait as the official release of the 2019 schedule gets closer and closer.