NFL Offseason Observations

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The impetus for this post is that the NY Giants General Manager, Jerry Reese, spoke to the media this weekend at the NFL Combine.  There were a couple of meaningful sound bites:

1) Reese commented on the injury status of Snee and Baas

2) Reese remarked about how the slow/no growth in the salary cap in recent years made it harder to manage personnel.

Let's talk about Snee first.  Snee was an excellent draft pick by Ernie Accorsi in Round 2 of the 2004 draft, one round after Eli was taken.  One of the things this website has preached is that getting interior OLmen VERY late in Round1 or in Round 2 is a great and safe way to build through the draft.  Why?  Because the rest of the league is (to a certain degree) correctly looking to find other positions of need.  But the thing that is overlooked is that if there is OL talent that is available in this part of the draft, you will have made a correct TEN YEAR move for the franchise.  There are many examples of these linemen who become fixtures for their team, starters who PROTECT THEIR QB for years to come.  Snee is a big reason why the Giants have 2 titles.  He was arguably the best lineman on the team throughout the run of competitiveness that the team experienced from 2007-2011. (Another thing that Pete Furman taught us is that when a draft is thin, if you pick late in Round 1, look for the Interior Line because at least there will be talent there, as the rest of the league is fighting for weaker talent and overdrafting at that level.)

Now, in 2014, Snee is physically not the same.  He had a hip problem which derailed 2012 and another hip problem which derailed 2013.  How many of you think it was a coincidence that the competitiveness of the OL dropped significantly when Snee's body gave way??!  How many of you think it was a coincidence that Snee started having more meaningful injuries as his tenure in the NFL advanced??!  2013 was Snee's 10th season in the NFL.  We are only too happy to laud the All Pro Guard for his incredibly significant contributions to the NY Giants all of these years. But with that said, unless a Doctor tells me this guy is going to get back to 100% (doubtful), you have to move on and make cap space for other YOUNGER players.  "This is the business we have chosen." Speaking about business, Snee is due 11.3M in 2014. That is the #2 cap # on the team.  Sorry, but a Guard who has seen his best days is no longer worth 11.3M (10% of the entire current allocation).  If the Giants cut him they save $6.8M.  Sorry, Chris, but it's a business, and the team can lose with less.  THIS IS HOW YOU REBUILD.  You get younger and you make room in the cap for other players.  We will talk about which player we have in mind in particular in a little bit.

The next veteran OLman on the docket is David Baas.  Baas will get none of the accolades that we showered on Snee.  To put Baas in the same sentence with Snee is not fair to Snee.  You see, we have been critics of the David Baas contract he signed with the Giants since DAY ONE.  And we have been completely underwhelmed with his play for the team since he has suited up.  He is a mediocre Center. Period.  Why the Giants threw $28M on him for 5 years was madness.  OR MORE LIKELY, the result of mismanaging the aging OL we have been yelling about for years.  Reese probably had little choice but to pay up to get some semblance of 98.6 degree competence in there.  That the guy is in his 30s, had a neck injury which wrecked his (and to another degree, the Giants) 2013 campaign, means it is time to part ways with him as well.  Oh, but why does Baas actually have a shot at making the 2014 roster?  That insane contract signed in 2011, the gift that keeps giving!  You see, remarkably, David Baas, a mediocre Center, had the 4th largest cap number on the 2014 team.  HEEEELLLLPPPP!!!  Oh, it gets worse.  Of his 8.2M #, 6.5M is "dead money," meaning if they cut the man, the Giants only free up 1.7M dollars.  What a nightmare.  I am not a cap expert, but I think that some of that dead money is 2015 dead money, so just take your losses, cut him and move on.  This is how you rebuild.  I would rather give younger players the snaps than pay this guy so that he can be ineffective in run blocking. 

While we are talking about dead money, let's talk about Jerry Reese.  Every time I hear "In Reese We Trust" I ask, are you paying attention?  Reese has done some very good things, but (as we saw in the last paragraph) he is not God's gift to football management either.  We did not like the bye week last season when Reese used the fantastic NFC Least as cover for somehow being in the race at 2-6.  Is Reese rationalizing that the 2013 team at 7-9 was only 3 wins apart from the 10-6 team in 2007 that won a title?  The reason why we bring up Reese is that he made a comment that was a little bothersome- according to NJ.com, he said that it was difficult to construct his roster due to a flat (non-growing) cap.  While we do not ask Mr. Reese to follow GDP figures and forecast that the NFL was going to reduce its cap from 2009 to 2011, we do not like excuses either.  EVERY TEAM IN THE NFL HAS THE SAME CAP TO MANAGE.  This is what makes the NFL so competitive, that each GM has the same wallet size to build his team with. 

I am reminded of Jack Nicklaus at the US Open.  The US Open golf major has sometimes had brutally hard courses that are difficult for even the best of professionals to handle.  Nicklaus would shake his head every time he overheard a player privately or publicly complain about the playing conditions.  Scratch him off the list, he isn't winning this year, thought Nicklaus.  Anyone that was busy complaining was already beaten by the course.  EVERY PLAYER HAD THE SAME PLAYING CONDITIONS TO MANAGE.  Play the game. Do your job.  No excuses.

Two more brief comments from former Super Bowl-winning GMs.  (1) Reese referred to the greater difficulty of meeting salary cap demands from players who commanded more as Super Bowl winners.  (2) Newsome remarked that winning the Super Bowl shortens your offseason greatly, with less time to prepare for the following season.  While both statements are true, I frankly don't want to hear about the challenges of a SB champion coming back to win the following season.  Maybe we should listen to Reese and Newsome and let the Super Bowl champion have the following year off, since we "know" how hard it will be to repeat?!  Bullbleep.  The idea of a free pass the year after a title is frankly repugnant.  In business, if a corporation or employee has a great year, that doesn't give them the right to coast the following year.  Too busy celebrating or doing book signings? Seattle isn't taking 2014 off, and I suspect that they won't be laying down when they play the Giants this upcoming season.  Jim Collins: Confront the brutal facts. Every season is an opportunity to win a title. Some of the Giants' best chances to win titles were in the year following their wins.  I do not think that this franchise should need 2013 to recognize how 2008 and 2012 were squandered opportunities. 

So the word is that Linval Joseph is going to fetch a very big free agent contract.  We didn't come all this way to watch Joseph start 46 out of his last 48 games in the past 3 years, hit his peak as a DT the next ~3-4 years and just say goodbye.    Joseph is not a phenomenal DT.  But he is a very solid part of your defense. Barring someone like Snyder paying stupid $ for him, you must make the space for this guy and re-sign him.  He's a Giant, he's in the system, and he is entering his prime.  Don't go drafting all those DLmen and then not keep the guy who is playing every snap, and playing well.     

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