There hasn’t been a championship for the New York Giants since 2011.
If they are to return to the NFL’s grandest stage, they’ll have to dominate this offseason.
They need to be bold.
They need to roll the dice. It means thinking about today and making big decisions here and now.
Let’s start by saying that despite a 5-11 record, this is a team that isn’t far away. Their last two losses of the season — against playoff teams — came by a combined two points. There is a potential with this group.
They have a veteran quarterback, star playmakers at wide receiver and running back as well as some young ability on defense. If they can add to that, this could be a team with a winning record in 2019. It isn’t inconceivable.
With a couple of big, bold moves the Giants could be back in the playoff mix sooner rather than later.
And in an NFC East that is currently muddled at best, they could easily get back in the mix for a division title.
Here’s a look at how the Giants can win the offseason.
1) Eli Manning Will Have to Start (and Complete) the Season
If the Giants are to turn into contenders in 2019, Eli Manning needs to be their quarterback. There is no way that a rookie could take this team as it currently stands and lead them to the playoffs.
Put a rookie under center and the Giants are punting on the year. This team can be a winner in 2019.
As Manning showed last year, he still has potential to quarterback this team for another season or two. Statistically, he had a solid year including one the better yardage seasons of his career and completion percentage well above his career average.
Manning has been to the Super Bowl twice, each time walking away with the game’s MVP award. While Giants fans are clamoring for his heir apparent, and that is certainly understandable, he gives this team their best chance to be competitive in the foreseeable future.
If the Giants think they can win now, then Manning is the answer.
2) Taking Care of the O-Line
The Giants don’t have a ton of cap space, but with the money they have, they’ll need to spend on the offensive line.
While the unit showed improvement in the second half of the season, there are still issues at guard and right tackle that must be addressed. If given time in the pocket, Manning can keep this offense clicking and head in the right direction.
As the offensive line stands right now, it is a fair group. But addressing depth and talent issues in free agency and the draft can go a long way towards the Giants stringing together a couple of wins.
The priority must be protecting Manning and creating running lanes for Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley.
3) Do the Right Thing with Collins
In a few short weeks, safety Landon Collins is set to become a free agent. The game’s best safety is deserving of a long-term deal.
While it might eat up a chunk of their available salary cap, Collins is a must-keep on their roster. He is a game-changer on a defense that is solid but doesn’t have a lot of elite players. Collins is a building block for the unit and must be retained.
Re-signing Collins is a move for now and down the road. If they don’t sign him, they may not have a chance at the playoffs next year.
4) Not Draft a Quarterback in the First Round
OK, while the prudent thing to do is draft a quarterback in the first round, it isn’t the thing one wants to do to make this team competitive for this season.
Let’s reiterate that again: The smart play here, long-term, is to draft a quarterback. But in the immediate, especially with Manning still on the roster and playing well, it isn’t a pressing need.
Issues along the offensive line or the defensive line are glaring. If Kentucky’s Josh Allen, a Jersey boy no less, somehow slips to the Giants at No. 5, then they must pounce. He’s the pass rusher this team could use.
Get that quarterback of the future in the second round and let him develop for a year.
5) Swing for the Fences
The Giants own double-digit selections in April’s NFL Draft. This allows them the opportunity to move up and get higher picks.
It also allows them to sit and draft depth.
With 11 or 12 likely picks, the Giants can add significantly to their two-deep, meaning that they can get raw, young talent in the draft on the cheap. This means that in free agency, they can go after a couple of big names. Players who can make an impact now.
Sure, they might be able to find value in players such as New York Jets right tackle Brent Qvale. But this team needs star power on the defensive side of the ball.
If they make a run and sign the likes of a Cam Wake or Brandon Graham type of player, then the Giants could be building a team that makes a run at the NFC East and the playoffs. Those would be major financial investments but some elite talent could take this team up a level or two.
This team isn’t terribly far away. Eight of their 11 losses this year were by a touchdown or less.
A couple of bold moves this offseason and the Giants could be in the thick of things. From there, if their last two playoff runs have shown anything, they are fully capable of making a Super Bowl surprise.