The New York Giants entered free agency needing edge-rush help. They head toward the 2020 NFL Draft still needing edge-rush help.
Big Blue added only linebacker Kyler Fackrell during free agency to help pressure the quarterback, electing to use most of its salary cap space elsewhere.
General manager Dave Gettleman has eschewed handing down a big contract to the likes of Jadeveon Clowney or meeting the demands for Giants free-agent pass rusher Markus Golden, who led the team in sacks last year. The GM insists he won't "overpay" for the position.
"A lot of people were raised with the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl teams, where we could consistently apply pressure with four," Gettleman said Monday, via the team's official website. "That is the goal, that's what you want. You can't manufacture it and you can't overpay for it. What it really comes down to is it doesn't matter who gets the sacks, it's about how many sacks you actually get. It really is about how much pressure you apply. Some of this is going to have to come through scheme. Obviously, we haven't gone through the draft yet. With where we're at, would I not want two defensive ends that are 25 sacks a year guys? Who doesn't? We are not in that position right now so we will just keep building it."
The Giants spent their biggest chunk of cash this offseason to franchise tag Leonard Williams, who even at his best during his NFL career has been more of a space-eater than QB-destroyer. Gettleman also handed down $14-plus-million per year for CB James Bradberry and $10 million per for inside linebacker Blake Martinez.
It would seem ostensibly overpaying for an off-the-ball linebacker would be more troublesome than overpaying for a pass rusher, but that's Gettleman's prerogative. The Giants had a ton of holes to fill, especially on defense, and the GM wasn't going to be able to caulk them all.
The GM said part of the reason he won't go overboard to sign someone like Clowney, who reportedly wanted $20 million per season when free agency opened, was to keep cash for all the players he plans to re-sign down the line.
"Part of the tight rope that I walk on is short-term and long-term," Gettleman said. "Part of the long-term is we have some good, young players right now. We've got Dalvin Tomlinson, (Evan) Engram and (Jabrill) Peppers. We have to make decisions on them. They're some good, young players. After another year, you guys are going to be banging on me about Saquon (Barkley). As I used to tell the guys down in Charlotte, when you wouldn't spend all your money in free agency, I'd say, 'Listen, you're going to kill me about this? Well, you're going to double kill me when we don't have money to extend Luke Kuechly or Cam Newton or whomever.' It's a collaborative decision we make as we talk about how we're moving forward. Right now, this is the decision we made. We're just going to move forward the way we are now."
Heading into next week's draft, the Giants are expected to target offensive tackles and edge rushers high. It's possible depending on how the draft falls, Gettleman, and other teams around the league, could then pivot back to the veteran free-agent pass-rusher market to see if some of the price tags have been put on the discount shelf.