If you are a Giants fan, this is the consolation you must wake up to this morning: In his mind — and his alone right now — Dave Gettleman has to have a detailed plan, a master matrix where all of this makes perfect sense. It must be something quite elaborate, unseeable to a civilian’s eye, unknowable to a layman’s brain.
That has to be it.
Because the only other thing that makes sense is that he is a real-life version of Max Bialystock, the producer in “The Producers” who purposely tries to create the worst play in the history of Broadway. Of course, the difference is this: Max and Leo Bloom’s play turns out to be an inexplicable hit.
It’s hard to envision “Springtime for Eli” working out quite that way.
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And it’s equally hard to see what Gettleman sees for this team, because right, now in little over a year on the job, he has allowed an acre of talent to walk out the door with little return so far, he has banked on his 38-year-old quarterback to magically discover a Lourdes-like healing pool somewhere along the Jersey Turnpike, and he has already wasted one year of Saquon Barkley’s career in an era when we know how fleeting those primes can be, for anyone.
If this was only about the Odell Beckham Jr. trade Gettleman pulled the trigger on Tuesday night, it would merely be head-scratching.
Less than a year ago, Gettleman signed Beckham to a $95 million deal — and offered, with his signature half-smirk (that, increasingly, comes across as a look-at-how-much-smarter-I-am-than-you flourish): “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him, OK? I know that’s all over the place. So understand that. That’s all I need to say about that.”
Now there is a new understanding. And now there is this deal which can only be described one way: a fleecing. You let a talent like Beckham walk, you’d better get back more than a first-round, a third-rounder and a player (safety Jabrill Peppers) who is a necessary add mostly because a few days ago Gettleman let another of his most talented players, safety Landon Collins, walk away for nothing.
To review: A team that has won eight games in two years has now allowed one of its best defensive players to walk (instead of trading him during last year’s fire sale) and now allowed one of its core offensive players to go catch balls from Baker Mayfield, who must wonder how he woke up with a lucky horseshoe in his bed.
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Bad teams need to add good players, not subtract them, or so it has been for 100 or so years in the NFL. And so far on his watch, Gettleman has signed guard Patrick Omameh to a deal this time last year — and released him. He signed running back Jonathan Stewart at the same time, who was awful. He massively overpaid tackle Nate Solder, who was thoroughly underwhelming. Giants fans basically had to fly another banner over MetLife Stadium before Gettleman finally gave up on Ereck Flowers. And we are still awaiting a verdict on the coach he hired, Pat Shurmur.
So if Gettleman really is the smartest guy in the room, there’s going to have to come a time when he does his big reveal. A year ago, when he opted for Barkley in lieu of one of the other quarterbacks dominating the draft, he sold a vision of an uber-offense featuring Barkley (that part worked out), Eli Manning (not so much) and Beckham (who scuffled some in returning from injury, but still had his moments before calling it a year after 12 games).
Now Beckham is gone. Manning is another year older. Gettleman still hasn’t identified (publicly, anyway) who his quarterback for the foreseeable future is, so for now we have to believe it’s still Eli. And Barkley is staring at a season when he will once again have to negotiate his magic behind a rebuilt (best case) or makeshift (worst case) offensive line, with eight guys in the box every time.
Good times at 1925 Giants Drive.
“There was a time,” the chorus sings in “The Producers,” “He wore the finest clothes,his shoes were always new.”
To which Max replies: “Now I wear a rented tux that’s two weeks overdue!”
Maybe this really is all a masterful setup by Gettleman. Maybe he really is smartest than the rest of us. It would be a good idea for him to prove that. Sooner, preferably, than later.