May 042014
 
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Video: Rich Gannon Talks NFL Draft

Articles on New York Giants and the 2014 NFL Draft:

Eric Ebron, North Carolina Tar Heels (September 7, 2013)

TE Eric Ebron – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Article on the New York Giants Tight Ends: Where do the Giants stand at the tight end position? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on LT Will Beatty: Giants’ first pick will give hint to concerns about Beatty by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on Former Giants General Manager George Young: Thirty-five years ago, George Young turned Giants’ fortunes around by Bob Glauber of Newsday

May 202013
 
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Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (December 30, 2012)

Ahmad Bradshaw – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The NFL Salary Cap and the New York Giants: In today’s NFL, the salary cap rules all. The NFL salary cap is an opponent that many front offices have simply dealt with on an intermediate level, a few have mastered, and a few more have fallen to ruin against as a result of mismanagement. It has risen $88.392 million over the course of 19 years from $34.608 million back in 1994 to $123 million in 2013. Over that time, we’ve seen the New York Giants deal with it to varying degrees. George Young clearly had issues dealing with it, when a bloodletting took place in its first year, when in the Spring of 1994 Giants fans experienced their first casualty of the cap era: the release of Phil Simms, who incidentally was coming off of the second Pro Bowl year of his career in 1993, which turned out to be the final season in his distinguished career (This Day in Football: Giants cut Phil Simms). Reality quickly sunk in for Giants fans with respect to the cap: “if Phil Simms could get cut, then anybody can.” The cap’s influence on free agency was a reason why players like Dave Meggett, Myron Guyton, and Mark Collins walked in free agency as well despite the Giants still wanting to retain them.

Once Ernie Accorsi took over as GM, things started to clear up cap-wise. That then carried over to this regime headed by GM Jerry Reese and Assistant GM (formerly titled cap analyst) Kevin Abrams. We now see a team that is shrewdly managed, with solid drafting and wisely signed free agent additions. What we also see as a result of the cap is the know-how that is required to keep a team with a franchise QB in his prime years competitively balanced when it comes to knowing when to let certain veteran players walk in free agency. The New York Giants did that this offseason with Kenny Phillips and Osi Umenyiora. The ins and outs of navigating the NFL salary cap are numerous though. The best thing to keep in mind when it comes to understanding the underlying motivation for people in NFL front offices is younger and cheaper. That is why it is important to find talent via the draft, rookie free agency, and through prudent veteran free agent acquisitions (something which is often overlooked by many fans). Keeping track of these ins and outs is something that is also key. Following these moves as they are made is not difficult. However, what can be difficult at times is understanding how these decisions are arrived at. This brings us to mapping out roster distribution and cap numbers.

There are several rules that teams – specifically cap analysts – must adhere to when it comes to assisting in team building and roster management. They revolve around the Top 51 rule, when it is in effect during the off-season (which is 7 to 8 months of a calendar year), and the regular season salary cap rules from a team’s first regular season game to its last regular season or post-season game of a given year. Here is an article for it that explains it well, along with some other basics:  Explaining The NFL’s Salary Cap” by Dan Durkin.

What is also important to understand, but from a fan’s standpoint, is the fact that cap numbers are not the same as salary. A cap number is calculation of how the money that a player earns counts towards the salary cap, and includes within it a portion of any number of bonuses, along with whatever guaranteed base salary a given player receives (a.k.a. “cap spending dollars” as opposed to “cash spending dollars”). A player’s salary has nothing to do with the calculations that are taken into account to come up with a given player’s cap number. Instead it has to do with a player’s “Paragraph 5” salary. I refer readers to this excellently written article by Jason Fitzgerlad from overthecap.com regarding the matter: A Guide to the NFL Salary Cap.

I’ll also provide a direct link to the Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed upon by the players and owners: 2011 NFL CBA (agreed upon on August 4, 2011). This latest CBA has been the source of much discussion since its ratification almost two years ago, and there has been a lot analysis regarding what the players gained (mostly lost) since it has been in effect. I’ll table an article on that though for some time in the future. What needs to be mentioned regarding the understanding of the cap itself is that it is not covered enough in the mainstream media. What we see regarding its implications is only touched upon very briefly at best. There’s nothing sexy about it to those who cover the team. It is indeed a shame that this is the case because in actuality there is no single more important factor in play when it comes to understanding how a team is built both in the short-term as well as the long-term, and what factors go into determining a team’s decision making regarding its personnel. It is for this reason that you see specialized websites specifically for the discussion and analysis of the salary cap with respect to the league as a whole and for specific teams.

One such website that stands out for the overall discussion of the league as a whole is overthecap.com. It includes both quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of the salary cap as it pertains to the entire league. I have a personal salary cap blog that I started up this month titled New York Giants Salary Cap Central which is my recent attempt to replicate this quantitative and qualitative approach that Jason Fitzgerald has done with his website, except it’s for a specific team, the Giants. There is also spotrac.com, but it lacks in any kind of qualitative discussion (at the least the free part anyway). It also directly lifted the numbers from overthecap.com, as per this article: Site News: Explaining my issues with another website.

Hopefully, a cap section on BBI can function to serve the purpose of gathering information from different places that serve to facilitate the increased understanding of how the cap works and its effect on the Giants’ overall decision making with respect to putting together their roster as whole. It’s one thing to list the order of the cap numbers on the team in such a section – which I intend to do – but it’s another thing to qualitatively break down and analyze patterns that are related to each player’s overall cap situation with respect to the Giants and their long-term and short-term plans for each player. Each year situations change, but teams try their best to control how players fit into the overall scheme of their plans. Hopefully, a cap section on BBI can serve to accumulate a decent enough amount of information so Giants fans who frequent the website can understand how the Giants’ cap situation reflects and determines the moves they make.

Personally, I look forward to spearheading the creation of such a section here on BBI. Currently, there is no other website on the internet which focuses on such a specific topic. In the coming weeks and months that will change for the better. Websites that focus on the cap for the other teams in the NFC East will be linked here, so that fans understand how the inter-divisional competition fares with respect to their respective cap situations. I encourage people to read and ask questions about the information contained herein; questions will serve to help to drive the content that is put out in this section, and make it a truly interactive experience for readers, rather than one which driven by individual whims alone (that’s what my cap blog linked above is for). It will be fun to integrate this new section on the cap here on BBI. My hope is that readers will find it equally fun and interesting to read.

Aug 051996
 
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On July 25, we sent General Manager George Young a letter asking him to respond to ten questions provided by the senior editor of Big Blue Interactive and our readers. Mr. Young was kind enough to respond to our questions in a hand-written letter, dated July 30, which we have reproduced here. Before he answered the questions, he made the following opening statement.

Mr. Young: We have people here who understand the internet. Each department in organizations are full-time operations. My motto has always been “owners, own; managers, manage; coaches coach and scouts scout.” My whole life has been involved in football. Most of my decisions are based on facts, experience and trial-and-error. When making decisions, we rely heavily on the people who are best prepared. When there’s an “overlap,” I’m responsible for massaging the “overlap.” I’d rather the front office be criticized rather than the coaches, since the players relate to the coaches. I can’t always defend myself, nor do I really care to. I weigh every decision carefully, and do what I think is in the best interest of the franchise. Whatever decision is made, I make the ownership aware of everything. Obviously, they have opinions, but almost everyone of my efforts has their support. My contract gives me much flexibility in football decisions, but I always consult with them. All personnel decisions are discussed with the head coach. Sometimes he agrees, sometimes he doesn’t. All head coaches have had the same input here. Coaches are not authorities on cap problems, contract negotiations and scouting personnel. They do have input in things that affect the football. I made a mistake trying to answer these questions. I don’t want to write a newsletter. I have been on record for a long time for the last two questions. George.

Editor: I understand that you do not like to comment on on-going negotiations (so you may choose to ignore this question), but the Michael Strahan situation seems very strange, that is, signing him to a one-year contract, then following up with a multi-year offer only days later. Now, there seems to be a very good chance that Michael will depart via free agency next off-season. Have negotiations been firmly postponed until then, or do you intend to make a major push to re-sign him after the season, but before the free agency period begins (i.e., what you did with Phillippi Sparks this past off-season)?

Mr. Young: First, he had to sign the one year tender so the agent couldn’t make him a hold out. We offered the Ron Stone deal to Mike. The media called the Stone deal “lucrative.” Strahan and Stone were both restricted free agents.

Editor: I have high hopes for Corey Widmer and Doug Colman inside, but it certainly isn’t far-fetched to believe that they might not be the long-term answer at middle linebacker. Also, although Ray Agnew seemed steady against the run, he, Keith Hamilton, and Robert Harris (when switched from defensive end in pass rushing situations) did not seem to make a big impact. The middle of the Giants’ defense still seems soft to me, would it be fair to say that upgrading the middle linebacker and defensive tackle positions will be a priority during the next off-season?

Mr. Young: We hope the middle will be stronger in ’96 than it was in ’95. We’ll have to wait-and-see.

Jerry in Rancho Santa Fe, California: (1) Now that we’ve had free agency and the salary cap for a few seasons, what direction do you see us going…or needing to go…in order to put and more importantly keep a winning team on the field? (2) Now that we are in the free agency/salary cap era what has changed with respect to policy making, player personnel, scouting, coaching and general all around decision making in the Giant organization in order to keep up with it all….how do you ensure that you are on the same page with the ownership and also your coach?

Mr. Young: Still must rely on the draft unless major holes have to be filled through free agency. We keep everyone in the hierarchy informed of what is going on. We try to keep all on the same page when possible. Too big a question to answer in a few words.

David W. in Hawthorne, California: With the advent of free agency, have the Giants put in place a plan to identify their nucleus of talent and developed an approach to locking up players identified as part of that nucleus up for long term. Is this where the cap surplus will be spent? How will the Giants plan to use free agency to supplement the building process? What is Reeves status for the long term in this rebuilding process? It seems to me if Reeves is here to finish his contract and leave, then he’s better off gone now and let’s get the guy who’s going be here when the rebuilding is done down the road. Is Reeves patient enough and committed to rebuilding?

Mr. Young: Problem with locking up players is the targeting and judgement in determining who is solid and long term. Not easy with young team, i.e., Strahan has had one good year. We will try to sign own players when we can. Dan does well with young players. We must try to have some continuity.

Tony in San Francisco, California: Not that we think you’re going to be searching for a new coach anytime soon, but to most fans — even the hard-core guys like us — a coaching search is pretty mysterious. What are the signs that an assistant or a college guy somewhere is head coaching material? Is it the overall success of his program? Is it the rumor mill (and do head coaches campaign for their guys to get open jobs?) How much does your personal exposure to guy determine your comfort level (for example, Handley and Coughlin worked for you while Capers and Cowher did not). In a nutshell, what do you look for and how do you know?

Mr. Young: College coaches are seldom good choices unless they have NFL experience. I don’t have time to detail this answer. We do our homework thoroughly on hiring coaches.

Martin K.: We were very weak at defensive tackle last year and there appears to be a further weakening with Keith Hamilton’s back still a very sensitive issue. What will be done to strengthen one of the most critical areas on the team with a great weakness against the run?

Mr. Young: Hamilton should be OK after first preseason game. Having achilles problem now, not back problem. We are aware of our short-comings on defense.

Eric and Peter in Paramus, New Jersey: Although you are against free agency, since you will be in good cap shape next off-season, how about giving this team an impact player on the defensive side of the ball? My other question is how about getting 1st round selection in camp on time so he can make an impact on the field in his rookie year? (Editor’s Note: Many fans wonder why the Giants are one of the teams in the NFL that never seem to get its first round draft pick signed by the time camp starts — is it the negotiating style of management, ridiculous demands made by the agents, coincidence, bad luck, etc.? In comparison with most other teams, it seems as if the Giants always fall short in getting their number one guy in camp on time).

Mr. Young: We try to sign our #1′s on time. Look around the NFL and see how slow the process is. We are not always justly treated in how we sign players. For the most part we operate at the same rate as the rest of the NFL, however, the media here doesn’t recognize much west of the Hudson.

Chris J. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Not that I disagree with the resigning of Rodney Hampton, but was it done strictly because of a lack of confidence in Tyrone Wheatley? And if the intention was to keep Rodney all along, why use the #1 pick on a running back with almost the exact same playing style as Rodney? (Editor’s Note: What we think Chris means here is that it seems that both Rodney and Tyrone seem to be the type of running backs that need to carry the ball 20-25 times per game to be truly effective — this has been a hot point of discussion The Big Blue Home Page).

Mr. Young: No, it was not done for lack of confidence in Wheatley. We don’t want to make 49ers stronger and we don’t want to keep losing talented Giant players who have the respect of coaches and teammates. We tend to draft the most talented players.

Daniel L. in Rockville, Maryland: Why do you dislike instant replay? Under what conditions (if any) would you support instant replay? What do you see in the future for Danny Kanell? Do you think he will replace Dave Brown as the starter or simply back him up? If you do not project him as a starter, then why draft him (there were good defensive tackles and wide receivers available at the time)?

Editor: As he mentioned in his intro, Mr. Young has decided not to answer this question.

John G. from Lyndeborough, New Hampshire: What is the future of the field surface at Giants Stadium? I understand that real grass may not be suitable for the event load at Giant Stadium but there has been much talk about injuries related to artificial turf. I have often heard it said that there is a concrete surface under the carpet (ouch!) What type of solutions are you looking at? Are there any new types of artificial turf that are more “player friendly”?

Editor: As he mentioned in his intro, Mr. Young has decided not to answer this question.