The Giant Insider Online

2018 is crucial season for Eli, OV, other Giants

It’s a brand new era for the New York Giants and holdovers on the roster have a lot more on their plate than the players the new regime has brought in.

Players that have been on the Giants’ the past few years that have a) underperformed or b) are overpaid or both will have to go a little bit further to prove to the new general manager and coaching staff they are part of Big Blue’s future.

That includes players that precede former general manager Jerry Reese and prize draftees that he coveted and protected over the years. New general manager Dave Gettleman has his own vision of what he wants the Giants to be.

Here are four players that will have to go above and beyond this year to convince Gettleman they should be part of his vision.

OT Ereck Flowers

It’s no secret that Gettleman tried to trade Flowers before the NFL Draft this spring after declining to exercise his fifth-year option. Gettleman found no takers at his price, which was reportedly a high draft pick.

Flowers will be the starter at right tackle this year after struggling mightily on the left side for the first three years of his career. He finally hired a real agent in Drew Rosenhaus, but it’s likely way too late for Rosenhaus to convince the Giants that Flowers has value.

The only person that can change Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur’s minds that he should be re-signed is Flowers himself. His play at camp and in the preseason has been marginally better, but he’s still not playing like a No. 9 overall selection.

If the Giants had a viable alternative to him on the roster, Flowers might not even be starting at the moment. Free agent Nate Solder took over the left tackle position from him and it’s very possible the Giants could pick up another veteran on cutdown day or make a trade for a player to compete with Flowers for the right tackle job.

Safety Darian Thompson

Deion Sanders used to say, “you can’t help the club from the tub,” and Thompson, who the Giants were hoping would be their free safety of the future has spent a lot of time in the proverbial tub since joining the team in 2016.

A third-round draft choice out of Boise State in 2016, Thompson impressed the club with his football acumen and leadership style, but a broken bone in his foot ended his rookie season after two games.

Last year, Thompson played and started at free safety in all 16 games, finishing with 75 tackles (61 solo), one interception and six passes defensed. The Giants thought they had solved their dilemma at  safety with Thompson and Landon Collins.

This summer, Thompson has been sidelined with a lingering hamstring issue that has kept him out of action since after the first preseason game. As the season nears, he is still laid up and the Giants are using free agent Curtis Riley at free safety. Riley played his first two seasons in Tennessee and was used sparingly.

If Thompson can’t answer the bell soon, the Giants may end up putting him in short-term injured reserve or even shaving him for the season. By that time, he might be out of the team’s plans.

QB Eli Manning

If you look at the Giants’ salary commitments for 2019, you’ll see that a good portion of their cap is already spoken for and that’s without adding in whatever it’s going to cost to sign Landon Collins.

Gettleman has surrounded Manning with a lot of weapons and a revamped offensive line. Not to mention the effect Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula will have on him and the game plan.

Eli’s cap number for next year, which is the final year of his current deal, is $23.2 million. If the Giants wait until after June 1, the cap hit reduces to $6.2 million, freeing up $17 million in cap space.

Should Eli not live up to expectations this season, the Giants — as much as they love him and respect what he’s done for the franchise — might consider cutting him loose in order regain some some cap relief.

This, of course, can only happen if Gettleman and Shurmur believe that either Davis Webb or Kyle Lauletta is the future of the team at quarterback.

OLB Olivier Vernon

Vernon is currently injured and is in jeopardy of missing the first week of the regular season (or more) with another ankle injury. The team loves his competitiveness and is excited to see what he can do as a pass rusher from a standing start rather than a 4-3 defensive end.

That aside, Vernon was given an above-market contract two years ago by Reese that not even the game’s top pass rushers could possibly live up to. Vernon’s cap number for 2019 is $19.5 million, so he’s definitely under the microscope this season.

If Vernon cannot play a whole season or does not play up to the level to make that cap number palatable, the Giants can let him him go at a cost of $4 million after June 1 next year.

Even if Vernon does have a banner season, his deal is likely to be redone, or at least the Giants will attempt to redo it.

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