NFL coaches and players often say: Handling success can be even more difficult than handling failure.
To best position themselves to achieve at the highest level, NFL franchises must avoid resting on their laurels and instead power a level-headed approach to building better.
The New York Giants took a step in that direction on Tuesday, trading for tight end Darren Waller to the Las Vegas Raiders.
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It’s easy to say that the Giants are coming off an average 9-7-1 season with one playoff win and one playoff loss and a quarterback who passed for just 15 touchdowns. It’s easy to complain that quarterback Daniel Jones’ career performance doesn’t warrant the $40 million-a-year contract the Giants gave him and Waller’s injury history — as did the recently franchise-tagged Saquon Barkley. , for those counting at home – he should put up warning signs about the allocated dollars.
But when the Giants’ moves are considered in context rather than in a vacuum, a picture emerges of a sensible front office powering calculated decisions to make the offense work and sidelining what doesn’t. .
Why Waller Is Worth It To The Giants
Entering the 2022 season, BetMGM has Giants win total is 7.5With slightly better odds that they’ll fall short of that number.
They exceeded those expectations by winning nine games, their first postseason appearance since the 2016 season, and their first playoff game since the 2011 season Super Bowl title.
Jones posted the best passer rating of his career, threw interceptions fewer times than any quarterback in the league, and demonstrated more dual-threat ability than anything he ever exposed at the Pro Bowl level with 708 yards and seven touchdowns. Did.
A healthy Barkley showed he was still a home run threat as he ran for 1,308 yards and 10 touchdowns, requiring attention from defenses that allowed Jones to break loose.
Giants brass believed that success from Year 1 each under coach Brian Dabol could carry on with continuity of system and personnel. So they negotiated Jones’ deal in time to put the franchise tag on Barkley, giving each player lucrative contracts through 2023 (and for Jones, into 2024) without mortgaging their long-term futures. Jones’ guarantee dissolves after two seasons, while Barkley’s tag is good for one unless a long-term deal is struck before the league’s July 17 deadline.
The Giants would not be the first franchise to let a player like Barkley walk, stressing that a quarterback as well-paid as Jones doesn’t need a player powering Barkley’s offense. They also might not have been the first franchise to tie the bow on their aggressive free agency moves after agreeing to pay that pair more than $50 million.
Instead, the Giants prized a third-round draft pick in Waller into a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end who immediately upgrades Jones’ pass-catching arms. Making matters even better, the Giants still had their third round pick at 90th overall and were only trading the 101st overall pick, which they acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for receiver Kadarius Toney. did.
Waller’s upside was on full display in 2019 and 2020, when he surpassed 1,100 yards in back-to-back seasons, including a nine-touchdown year in 2020. In 2021, he remained highly productive in 11 games available – 60.5 yards per game and 12.1 yards per reception, including an average of 4.4 yards per target catch – before injuries including a hamstring strain cost him just nine games in 2022 and the Las Vegas offensive snap. limited to 31.4%.
The Giants now have the ability to form a dynamic trio with Jones, Barkley and Waller. They will pay between $10 million and 12 million over the next three years if he stays healthy enough to warrant it, a more palatable number than the $17 million average the Raiders signed him for last training camp. And if Waller can’t fight through his bout of injuries, he won’t have to be cut after the 2023 season.
The Raiders’ recent moves reflect a franchise that is not yet fully ready to compete, and thus one that could benefit from a deep tight end class that offers talented players during their rookie contracts. Should do, but probably not as quickly as the Giants would expect Barkley’s guaranteed services thus far for only another year.
Will the strategy of veterans be enough?
NFL fans may ask: With a coach who seems as talented as Dabold, the 2022 AP Coach of the Year, why “settle” for a mid-tier quarterback when recent league MVPs like Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers The 2023 teams haven’t arrived yet. Settled?
It’s a fair question when the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl thanks in large part to a host of massive comedies from Patrick Mahomes.
And yet, the Giants believe instead that Jones’ immediate progress in his first year under Dabold portends even more to come, that it was the career tape that was most reflective of the former sixth overall pick’s potential.
There is logic in that philosophy, whatever it may be.
And should fans want to compare which strategy will work, they may need look no farther than an entire city.
The New York Jets, in their search for the Rodgers who will put them over the top, intend to splash on their window of talent and capitalize on it through bank-breaking acquisitions.
If Rodgers does indeed agree to the trade, the discrepancy between the New York teams’ philosophies will shine an even brighter light on each’s decision.
Their shared willingness to choose a strategy and commit to it will also shine through.
The Giants’ move into the 2023 offseason may not be the most promising. But his continued march toward improvement should give fans reason for optimism.