The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
5 lessons the Giants can learn from Eagles, Chiefs
Giants GM Joe Schoen and the personnel and scouting staff are hitting the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week, while other members of the front office continue free agent meetings up in East Rutherford, N.J.
As Schoen deliberates how to use nine draft picks and spend approximately $44.7 million in salary cap space this offseason, here are five lessons the Giants can learn and apply from this year’s Super Bowl LVII participants, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
1. NEVER GET COMPLACENT AT QB
Alex Smith was playing at a high level when the Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes 10th overall in 2017. Carson Wentz was 10 months into a fouryear, $128 million extension when the Eagles picked Jalen Hurts 53rd overall in 2020. An NFL front office must constantly evaluate its own quarterback and study all available options in the draft, in free agency and on the trade market. And a GM can’t be afraid to make a move if he’s confident it will upgrade his roster at the most important position in the sport.
The Giants are expected to pay Daniel Jones like a franchise quarterback soon because he showed them in 2022 that he can lead them to the playoffs and win once he’s there. And they only hold the 25th pick in April’s draft. But the evaluation should never stop. The Chiefs and Eagles are proof of why.
2. UPGRADE & REINFORCE THE LINES
The Eagles’ domination of the Giants, the NFC East and the entire conference occurred in large part due to their superior talent and depth on the offensive and defensive lines. All five of their starting O-linemen were Philly draft picks from center Jason Kelce (sixth round, 2011) to left guard Landon Dickerson (second round, 2021). Persistent D-line acquisitions in free agency (edge Haason Reddick), the draft (DT Jordan Davis) and midseason signings and trades (DT Linval Joseph, DT Ndamukong Suh, edge Robert Quinn) improved an already imposing pass rush and front into a QB’s worst nightmare.
The Chiefs’ extended stay at the top of the AFC, meanwhile, featured a 2021 offensive line rebuild on the fly with a combination of draft picks (center Creed Humphrey, right guard Trey Smith) and signings/trades (left tackle Orlando Brown, left guard Joe Thuney). And they have supplemented Steve Spagnuolo’s Chris Jones-led pass rush with free agents (Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap) and rookie first round pick George Karlaftis. The lesson for the Giants: the blossoming of LT Andrew Thomas and DT Dexter Lawrence is a good start, but it’s only the start.
3. FIND A GO-TO, STANDOUT RECEIVER
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, and Eagles wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, are the kinds of receivers that alter defenses’ game plans and make a quarterback’s life easier. Kelce and Smith are homegrown draft picks. Brown was acquired by Eagles GM Howie Roseman from the Tennessee Titans in a trade last offseason.
The Giants’ Isaiah Hodgins, Richie James and Darius Slayton all stepped up to help Jones and the offense exceed expectations in 2022, but Schoen needs to
find a bonafide stud target who will open up the field for everyone, especially Jones.
The GM said recently that it’s more important to build the entire team than to acquire a No. 1 receiver at any cost. He’s a big believer in value. Continuing Jones’ ascension and raising the offense’s floor, though, requires a go-to target who puts defenses on their heels.
4. BE CAREFUL ABOUT PAYING RB’S
The Chiefs’ Isaih Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon, and the Eagles’ Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell, cost a grand total of $4.386 million in salary cap space in 2022. Sanders had the highest cap hit of all four at $1.7 million. The Giants, on the other hand, reportedly offered Saquon Barkley between $12 million and $12.5 million a year during midseason negotiations and still weren’t close to a deal.
The running back franchise tag salary for the upcoming 2023 NFL season will be $10.1 million, per Overthecap.com. Schoen so far has stood his ground on not compromising his overall roster plans to break the bank for a running back.
Would Barkley be willing to play on the tag if the Giants used it? This won’t be an easy negotiation, but the Giants should feel more confident in their position after seeing the Eagles and Chiefs advance. Not only is it prudent to limit financial resources at running back; Schoen needs that cash to upgrade more critical positions such as corner, offensive line and wide receiver.
5. KNOW WHO YOU ARE
The Eagles’ Roseman and Chiefs GM Brett Veach both correctly assessed that their teams were still in a window that warranted aggressive, short-term moves to upgrade the roster in hopes of winning another Super Bowl. Roseman simultaneously planned for the future by trading two of his three 2022 first-round picks to New Orleans a year ago for an extra first-rounder this April that now sits at 10th overall. Any GM can make a move. Some work out; some don’t.
But the best executives are the ones who chart the course correctly in the first place: they are realistic about when it’s time to act and when it’s time to be patient. Schoen smartly understands that the Giants remain much further away from sustainability than their playoff berth and victory might otherwise indicate. That doesn’t mean he won’t act.
It’s simply reinforcement that Schoen and ownership should not overextend in the short term with win-now moves. If the Giants know who they are (1-5-1 in division), they will continue charting a course for a sound, long-term rebuild.