There is an overhaul in progress at 1925 Giants Drive. New general manager Dave Gettleman is cutting, trading and allowing pieces to walk with regularity these days. It's a necessary course of action after a 3-13 collapse that resulted in coach Ben McAdoo and former general manager Jerry Reese being fired.
This move surprised even Pierre-Paul himself, according to a source. It comes just one year after he signed a four-year deal worth $62 million with $40 million guaranteed.
Those numbers are at the core of the move. Gettleman is clearing money for the future and shedding a player who didn’t really fit the team’s new 3-4 defensive scheme with Olivier Vernon also on the roster.
The Giants will have $15 million in dead money against the salary cap this year. They save only $2.5 against the cap for 2018 by sending Pierre-Paul elsewhere. It’s in the future that this move will offer its biggest benefit.
The Giants are free of Pierre-Paul’s $19.5 million cap hit next year and $17.5 million the following year. If quarterback Eli Manning comes off the books as well, the Giants will enter next offseason with financial flexibility they haven't seen in years.
This will allow Gettleman and Shurmur to really put their stamp on the team and build a roster that fits their vision. It’s not a one-year process. Not after 3-13 with five missed playoff appearances in six years. They're going to need two to three years to rectify some of the mistakes of the past.
The Giants don’t have a single player remaining from their 2010-13 draft classes. They are one of five teams, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills without anyone remaining from those four drafts. The Giants have only one player, Odell Beckham, remaining from the 2014 draft.
The franchise was already in solid shape financially for the future before Thursday. Now it can consider just about any move possible. Pierre-Paul’s departure eliminates any doubt that the Giants will have money to sign Beckham to the long-term contract that he's pursuing emphatically, or to extend Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins and assure that he remains with the team for years to come. Those now become strictly football decisions, not financial decisions.
Whatever Gettleman and Shurmur want to try to accomplish, they will have the available money to make it happen. The Giants, who are straddling the salary cap this year, are set to become a lot more aggressive next year in free agency.
It's not that Pierre-Paul couldn't play or was on a serious decline. He had battled back from a serious hand injury to sign a long-term deal with the team last offseason. This after he lost his right index finger during a fireworks accident in 2015 and played on a pair of one-year deals afterward. Reese signed him to the lucrative four-year deal last offseason. He led the Giants with 8.5 sacks in 16 games during an up-and-down 2017 campaign.
But Reese is no longer around. Neither is the defensive scheme the Giants were running under former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Pierre-Paul's now gone, too. He's hardly alone. Last year’s leading rusher Orleans Darkwa is set to leave as a free agent; starting center Weston Richburg, guard Justin Pugh and strongside linebacker Devon Kennard have already signed with other teams, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has taken visits as he looks elsewhere. The Giants will have a very different look come Week 1, and they might not even remotely resemble last year's team after the offseason next year.
Gettleman and Shurmur already have made serious changes to the roster, and the Giants have the No. 2 overall pick and four of the top 69 selections in this year’s draft. They’re still out looking for cheap pieces to add to the roster.
This is only the beginning. The Pierre-Paul trade sets the stage for an overhaul that will continue for at least another year.