MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is the shared home of the Giants and Jets, although it is the Giants who will officially be the host for tonight’s preseason opener for both teams.
The Giants are in rebuilding mode. There is no other way to frame the moves they made in the offseason after finishing last in the NFC East at 5-11. This on the heels of going 3-13 two seasons ago, the second worst record in the NFL that produced Saquon Barkely with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Barkely became an immediate star and the Bronx-born running back was named the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year was at the center of the Giants’ remake. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns last March as the franchise’s chief decision makers attempt to shift the culture of the team, a goal Pat Shurmur often articulated last season, his first as the team’s head coach.
Beckham was a polarizing figure and constant source of controversy. Yet his enormous persona did not negatively effect his production and he remains one of the most explosive and dangerous players in football. The drama was equally perpetuated by the 26-year-old wide receiver and the media—both local and national. Every comment and action produced by Beckham was intensely covered and scrutinized.
But beyond his perceived disruptive existential presence the Giants shed, Shurmur asserted the trade also had tangible results. “We feel like we got good value in the trade,” he said in an interview on radio station WFAN. The Giants received former University of Michigan safety and East Orange, N.J. native Jabrill Peppers, and the the No. 17 and 95th picks in last April’s NFL Draft which they used to select Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence from Clemson and linebacker Oshane Ximines from Old Dominion respectively.
“We needed a lot. This team needed a lot,” Shurmur expounded. “And so, we needed to help bolster the roster. We feel like we did it.” The new-look Giants also traded 2018 Pro Bowl defensive end Olivier Vernon to the Browns and declined to sign free-agent safety Landon Collins to a lucrative long-term deal. Collins, who the Giants drafted out of the University of Alabama in the second round in 2015, emerged as a First Team All Pro (2016) player and three-time Pro Bowler (2016-2018) in his time with the team.
In March, the 25-year-old Collins inked a six-year, $84 million contract with the Giants’ NFC East rival Washington. In theory, the Giants signed wide receiver Golden Tate, edge rusher Markus Golden and safety Antoine Bethea to replace Beckham, Vernon and Collins.