Mar 182019
 
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Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (September 30, 2018)

Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

DAVE GETTLEMAN ADDRESSES MEDIA…
New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman addressed the media by conference call on Monday.

Opening Statement: Thanks for joining me, good morning. Obviously, I’m doing the call do discuss the (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) trade, which was finalized over the weekend after Odell and (Giants S) Jabrill (Peppers) passed their physicals. Before we begin the Q&A portion of the call, I’d like to address a few things that have been out there, as well as explain why we decided this move was right for the New York Football Giants. As a point of information, the only call that I initiated regarding moving Odell was to Buffalo. As you folks may or may not know, I have a personal relationship with (Bills General Manager) Brandon (Beane), being the Buffalo GM, from our time spent together in Carolina. I placed the call after I had learned they had conversations on Antonio Brown. I good naturedly chided Brandon about not calling us, and that’s where it ended. So, that’s Buffalo. San Francisco — we had numerous conversations over time; myself and (49ers General Manager) John Lynch, the GM, and frankly we couldn’t come to an agreement, so that died on the vine. As far as Cleveland is concerned, talks were initiated by them and (Browns General Manager) John Dorsey. John knew we weren’t going to give Odell away. So frankly, his initial offer peaked our interest, and away we went. So, the initial call Tuesday morning, we finalized it, it was probably about 10 hours, and there was considerable back and forth.

So, the obvious question is ‘Why?’ That’s the question that everybody has. After much discussion, we just believe this was in the best interest of the New York Football Giants. I want everybody to know that this was purely a football business decision. There’s no intrigue, there’s no he said, she said, none of that stuff. So, let’s not waste time with those types of questions after the fact. Odell was a tremendous talent, making him a valuable asset. With football being the ultimate team game — you guys know I’ve said that a number of times — with football being the ultimate team game, we turn that fact into three assets at the very least.

Some have questioned why we signed Odell and then traded him. As I said publicly twice, we didn’t sign him to trade him, but obviously things change. Frankly, what changed is a team made an offer we couldn’t refuse. As it turns out, the fact that he was signed for five more years made him very attractive and enabled us to get legitimate value. You ask me about my mantra of not quitting on talent, and yes, I believe that fully, but quitting on talent is when you cut a player, or get marginal value in return, and we all know this did not happen here. Speaking of value, you ask me how we came to this. My barometer or litmus test was the franchise tag. So, just for the sake of discussion, or explanation, if we had not signed Odell back in August, and we had played the season out and we had put the franchise tag on him — if another team had signed him, and we didn’t match it, we would’ve gotten two first-round picks. So, that was my litmus test. Oh, and by the way, as a point of reference, it has only happened once in league history, that was in ’98 with Carolina signing (DT) Sean Gilbert off the franchise tag. Again, as our litmus test, it turns out we not only got two first-round picks, but we also got a third.

I completely understand why people are going to debate the merits of this deal, because draft picks are involved. This trade really won’t be able to be completely evaluated until we get further down the road. Finally, because of Odell’s talent and personality, this was a decision we did not enter into lightly. There were a number of factors to take into consideration, and I can assure you we thoroughly discussed them all. Let the games begin.

Q: You mentioned that this was just a football decision. Were the distractions from Odell a factor in your decision at all?

A: Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff that factors in, but at the end of the day, in order for us to move Odell, the other team was going to have to knock it out of the park. As I said, we were not actively shopping him. Calls were coming to us, and the only one I reached out to was, again, Buffalo, and I was just as much giving Brandon a hard time as anything else. For us to get Jabrill Peppers, who we think is going to be a very good safety in this league. He’s young, we’ve got him under contract for three years at very reasonable value. To get another one (first-round pick), this year is number 17, I think, and to get that kind of a value in this type of a draft, and to get a third-round pick completing our dance card for April, it was just too much to pass up. It was too much value for us. You look at everything, but at the end of the day, it’s really about football. We’ve got positions to address. This was about us having the ability to address multiple positions.

Q: You said things came together in Cleveland and you only made that one call to Buffalo. Why not shop around and see what other teams had to offer, to see if you could’ve gotten a better offer?

A: That’s a very fair question. When it comes to trading, the team that makes the call is playing from behind. You’re in a much better position of strength when teams call you. You’re in a much better position. Because I wasn’t doing that — we’re not trading Odell, understand what I’m saying? That’s really why it worked out the way it worked out. It (the trade) wasn’t something we had to do, and someone was going to have to knock it out of the park.

Q: Can you best articulate what the plan is, and how letting (S) Landon Collins go, trading (WR) Odell Beckham, trading (LB) Olivier Vernon, but bringing back (QB) Eli Manning factors into your plan, and what that plan is?

A: Really and truly, very honestly, it’s not my responsibility to tell you guys what I’m doing. Just like it’s not my responsibility to respond to every rumor that comes down the pike. That’s not my job. It’s not my responsibility. Trust me, we’ve got a plan. Over time, you’ve got to be patient. Everybody wants answers now in this instant-gratification society, instant-gratification world, and everybody wants answers now. Over time, you’ll see it. You’ve got to trust it.

Q: I know it’s not your responsibility to tell us your plan, but the fans do want to have a vision. They want to know where you guys are headed.

A: I appreciate that, okay. We have positions to address, and that plan is to address those positions, plain and simple, and we’ll do it with whatever means necessary. You may do it on a draft pick, you may do it on a waiver claim, you may do it in free agency, you may sign an unrestricted free agent, you may sign a street free agent, you may sign an NQO, a third-year player that doesn’t get a qualifying offer from his team, and you may make a trade. There’s a million ways to do it. We’re exploring and using all those options.

Q: Do you view yourself as rebuilding? Or, are you trying to win as you move along here?

A: We’re building. The object of this is to win as many games as possible every year. We’re building. We were 3-13 when I took over. We were 5-11 last year — 12 of those games were by a touchdown or less. We’re building. I don’t understand why that’s a question. Really and truly, you can win while you’re building. Down in Carolina, I walked into a different situation. The first year, we go 12-4. Then the next year, we had to build a little bit. We had a crazy year, go 7-8-1, but make the playoffs because the NFC South was struggling. We win a playoff game, lose a playoff game. Then the next year, we did everything but win the ultimate prize. You can win while you’re building. They’re not separate pieces.

Q: You mentioned at the combine that you wanted to have ‘X’ amount of dollars for the draft, ‘X’ amount of dollars for free agency. Having $33 million in dead money towards the salary cap, how much was that a factor in your decisions?

A: Really and truly, nobody wants to have that kind of dead money, but again, it’s the long-term vision that we have in the building, and what we’re going to do. Sometimes, you’ve got to do those things. There was a team this year with something like $60 million in dead money. That was the route they chose. We talked about it. (Giants Vice President of Football Operations and Assistant General Manager) Kevin Abrams does a great job of looking at it and saying — hey, you’ve got to take a look at this, this is the way it works, this is what we’re looking at in dead money, this is what we’re looking at in cap space. Again, none of these decisions are made in a silo, none of them. Everything is interconnected. So to answer your question, we knew it, and we just decided this was the way we’re going to go.

Q: What do you say to those who say you did not get enough in return for Odell?

A: First of all, what I say is what’s reasonable, what’s the best you are going to do? Someone sits out there and says you should have gotten four first round picks, you and I know that’s not going to happen. To me, it’s what I said earlier, it’s the litmus test of the franchise tag value. Franchise tag value is two first round picks. We got two ones and a three, one of them being a player. I think really and truly you are not going to be able to know the value. You are not going to be able to give a Roman Coliseum thumb up or thumb down on this trade for a little bit. We have to see how Jabrill develops, and we have to see who this number one is, who this number three is. You guys will obviously follow Odell’s career and we will go from there. In two or three years, you guys will have your opinions like you do now.

Q: Did you have any discussions about Eli and his bonus, is there a thought of extending him beyond 2019?

A: Yes, we talked about it. We just said we are going to keep moving. Today is the day he gets his bonus and we are just going to keep moving.

Q: On Landon Collins, it was clear you guys were not willing to go to that price point. Why not trade him at the deadline?

A: First of all, the rumor that we were offered a first round draft pick isn’t even remotely close to being accurate. Did we have teams call in on Landon, yes. At that point in time, it wasn’t what I thought he was worth. At that point in time, we were really struggling, and what message are we sending by trading him. I didn’t think the value was there, and it’s about value, so that’s why we didn’t do it.

Q: How does making the roster older in certain spots (Bethea, Tate, Zeitler) jive with your building theory?

A: It’s about accumulating really good football players, who are also really good folks. The culture is important, I have said it a million times, you guys know that. The bottom line is with the way the game has evolved, 65 percent of the time you are in sub. You need a guy in the back end that can get everybody lined up and make all the adjustment calls. If you don’t have that, you can’t function. I’ve watched Antoine (Bethea) for years, you talk about a great sixth round pick. He is an adult, he’s a professional football player. He knows what he is doing, he can still play. I have this crazy idea that age doesn’t bother me. I better because my age doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day, it’s about a good football player. Antoine Bethea is still a hell of a football player, so is Kevin Zeitler, those guys can flat play. Plus, we have 12 draft picks, we are going to be really young. It’s about building a team, it’s not about individual players in silos.

Q: Are you concerned with the pressure being put on Peppers?

A: Jabrill is a hell of a kid. He is very bright, he’s young. We talked about it. At the end of the day, he is coming here to play football. He is going to have Antoine helping him out. Jabrill is very bright in terms of his intelligence. I told Antoine, in time. Jabrill should be able to make the calls back there. He doesn’t feel that pressure, he is thrilled to be coming home. He is very close to his mom, he is going to live in Bergen County, I think. I don’t think he feels that pressure. He is just excited to be a Giant. It’s the team he grew up cheering for, this kid’s coming home. I don’t think he feels that pressure, and we certainly aren’t going to put that pressure on him. There is no reason for there to be that kind of pressure on him. He is coming here to be a safety, play football and help the New York Giants win games. It’ss that simple.

Q: Last year when you brought Saquon in, you guys said you didn’t worry about putting expectations on him because you thought he could live up to it and that was from ownership on down. You have laid out expectations for Peppers coming here, you said you wouldn’t have dealt Odell in that deal without Peppers, so in a sense, you are putting those expectations on him, no?

A: I’m not putting them on him. He was an important piece of the trade. I didn’t trade Odell straight up for Jabrill Peppers. Jabrill was an important piece to that trade. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe in his ability. We watched film, we evaluated and we did him coming out. I was in Carolina at the time, he came in for a private visit down there, so I had personally spent time with him. He’s part of the trade and he’s an important part of the trade. He’s coming here to be a safety for the New York Football Giants.

Q: I know you talked a lot about acquiring players and having holes that you need to fill. Just curious how you justify that with bringing Eli back this year against the savings? The $13 million in cap space that it would create if he’s not on the roster. Just trying to figure out how those two ideas can coexist?

A: At the end of the day, when you blow the whistle, 11 guys have to go out there. I’ve done that study and on offense you have to have a quarterback run out there. I said it in Indianapolis and I’ll say it again, you turn around and take a look at what happened last year once we got that o-line fixed, better, we’re going to continue working on that and look at what we did the second half of the year on offense. This narrative that Eli is overpaid and can’t play is a crock, I’m telling you. At the end of the day, you guys have to say, ‘Gettleman is out of his mind’ or ‘he knows what he’s talking about when he evaluates players.’ That’s really what it is, that’s really where it’s at and I’m okay if you disagree with me, that’s fine. What I’m telling you is if you turn around and take a look at what he’s making right now, and look around the league and see what quarterbacks are making, if you were in my shoes, you would say, you know what, there is really not — the way he finished the season and what he’s making — there really wasn’t a decision to make.

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN CODY LATIMER…
The New York Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agent wide receiver Cody Latimer. The Giants signed Cody Latimer as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in March 2018 and placed him on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury in October 2018. The Giants activated him from IR in December. Latimer ended up playing in six games with two starts, catching just 11 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. However, he really flashed in the regular-season finale with two spectacular, one-handed catches.

The 6’2”, 215-pound Latimer was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Broncos. In four seasons with the Broncos, Latimer played in 45 regular-season games with three starts. He’s a big receiver who will fight for the football. Latimer is a good gunner on special teams and has experience returning kickoffs.

JABRILL PEPPERS AND KEVIN ZEITLER ADDRESS THE MEDIA…
Safety Jabrill Peppers and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler, who were both acquired by trade last week from the Cleveland Browns, addressed the media by conference call on Monday. Their transcripts are available in The Corner Forum:

GIANTS INSIDER INTERVIEWS…
Exclusive Giants Insider interviews with the following recently-acquired players are available at Giants.com:

  • DL Olsen Pierre (Video)
  • LB Markus Golden (Video)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (Video)
  • S Antoine Bethea (Video)
Mar 132019
 
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Jabrill Peppers, Cleveland Browns (December 15, 2018)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

MORE DETAILS ON THE ODELL BECKHAM TRADE …
When the New York Giants traded linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for guard Kevin Zeitler, the Giants and Browns swapped mid-round picks, with the Giants sending a 4th-round (132nd overall, acquired from Saints for cornerback Eli Apple) selection for the Browns’ 5th-round (155th overall) selection. As part of the wide receiver Odell Beckham trade to Cleveland, both teams now retain their mid-round picks.

So for Beckham, the Giants:

  • Received Cleveland’s 1st-round pick (17th overall selection)
  • Received Cleveland’s 3rd-round pick from New England (95th overall selection)
  • Re-acquired their 4th-round pick (132nd overall selection) from Eli Apple trade
  • Sent back to the Browns their 5th-round pick (155th overall selection)
  • Acquired safety Jabrill Peppers

In fact, both trades were actually processed by the NFL as one deal. The net effect was that the Browns received Beckham and Vernon in exchange for Zeitler, Peppers, a 1st-round pick, and a 3rd-round pick.

“The New York Football Giants would like to thank Odell Beckham, Jr. for his contributions,” said General Manager Dave Gettleman. “We truly wish him well in Cleveland, and we want to wish (Olivier Vernon) the best and nothing but success for both of them.

“With the first-round draft choice, that gives us six and 17. As we continue to build this team, you need draft pick capital. This trade enabled us to do that… You can win while you build a roster. We do have a plan, and this is a part of it.

“We’re very excited we were able to get a quality NFL guard in Kevin Zeitler. We’ve already had him in here, and he passed his physical. That really adds another piece to the offensive line repair that we have going. Now, we have most of the line under control for the next couple years. It’s a great opportunity for us to build stability on our offensive line. We’re excited about that.

“We’re very excited to have Jabrill. A lot of people remember him from his days at Paramus Catholic. He’s coming back home. I spoke to him last night and he’s excited and thankful and couldn’t wait to get here. Jabrill is a quality safety in this league and he is a legitimate linchpin on the back end of your defense. The way this game is being played, your safeties are critical in pass defense.”

The Giants current 2019 NFL Draft selections are:

  • Two 1st-round picks
  • One 2nd-round pick
  • One 3rd-round pick
  • Two 4th-round picks
  • Three 5th-round picks
  • One 6th-round pick
  • Two 7th-round picks
Mar 082019
 
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Kevin Zeitler, Cleveland Browns (December 24, 2017)

Kevin Zeitler – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS TRADE OLIVIER VERNON FOR KEVIN ZEITLER
The New York Giants have traded linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for offensive guard Kevin Zeitler. In addition, the Giants and Browns swapped mid-round picks, with the Giants sending a 4th-round (132nd overall) selection for the Browns’ 5th-round (155th overall) selection.

Vernon was scheduled to earn $15.25 million in salary in both 2019 and 2020, and count $19.5 million against the 2019 NFL salary cap. The trade will reportedly net the Giants $1.5 million in 2019 salary cap room as trading Vernon “saved” the Giants $11.5 million while the team now takes on Zeitler’s $10 million 2019 salary. Overall, the Giants absorbed $8 million in dead money from Vernon by trading him.

The 29-year old, 6’4”, 315-pound Zeitler was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Browns in March 2017, which at the time made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. In seven seasons, Zeitler has started 103 of the 104 regular-season games he has played in, not missing a start in the last four seasons. Zeitler has good size and is a consistently solid run and pass blocker.

Vernon’s first three seasons with the Giants were sabotaged due to nagging injuries, including a high ankle sprain in 2018 that caused him to miss the first five games of the season. Vernon started the remaining 11 games, accruing 30 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 pass defense, and 1 forced fumble. Despite the missed time and subpar tackle production, Vernon played in the Pro Bowl as a first alternate.

Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016 to a 5-year, $85 million contract. Although Vernon played in all 16 regular-season games in 2016, a serious left hand/wrist injury affected his play. In 2017, he missed four games with an ankle injury that also continued to be a factor in other games. An undersized but athletic defensive end, the Giants shifted him to linebacker in 2018 to fit their new 3-4 scheme.

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN JON HALAPIO
The New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent center Jon Halapio, who won the starting center job in 2018, but was lost early when he was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2018 after breaking his ankle and lower leg in the second game of the season. The injuries required surgery.

Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. The Giants signed Halapio to their Practice Squad in 2016 and 2017. The Giants then added him to the 53-man roster in October 2017 and he played in 10 games, starting the last six at right guard.