The Giants waited until they were on the clock Thursday night before executing their most significant draft day trade since they acquired Eli Manning 17 years ago.
They sent their selection at No. 11 in the first round to the Chicago Bears for a package of four picks, including two in the current draft (No. 20 in the first round and No. 164 in the fifth), plus first and fourth-round choices in the 2022 draft. The Giants selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Chicago moved up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“Obviously, it was too good an opportunity (to pass up),” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So, we made it. We did it. We added a one and a four next year. Another pick for this year and another pick for next year. We were very pleased we were able to make the play.”
The key component of the trade for the Giants was the Bears’ first-rounder next year.
“It was very important to get the first-round pick next year,” Gettleman said. “As I told you guys (reporters) at my pre-draft presser, there’s a lot of unknowns here with this group (of players in this draft) and plus a lot of kids went back and took advantage of the NCAA giving them an additional year of eligibility. That obviously played into our thinking.”
The trade also enabled the Giants to recoup the fifth-round choice (No. 154) they sent the Jets in 2019 to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams. It gives them seven choices in the seven-round draft; one in each of the first five rounds and two in the sixth. They received an extra selection in that round from Arizona in a trade for linebacker Markus Golden. The Giants do not have a seventh-round selection after sending it last year to Denver for cornerback Isaac Yiadom.
For the first time in the eight NFL drafts he has run – five with Carolina and three with the Giants – Gettleman executed a trade to move back…not just in the first round, but in any round.
Gettleman initiated the trade by reaching out to Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.
“What happened was we had called around and … I had spoken to Ryan Pace, and I had heard he was interested in moving up,” Gettleman said. “So, I called him. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘Yes, we’re very interested.’ And then the conversations begin.
“I spoke to Ryan today before the draft and I spoke to him again. He called me again somewhere around the seventh pick, somewhere in there, and then we got on the clock and from there, (assistant general manager) Kevin Abrams took over and finished off the trade.”
It is widely thought the Giants were interested in Alabama wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and cornerbacks Jayce Horn of South Carolina and Patrick Surtain of Alabama. All were selected in the first 10 picks.
Although it was a surprise each of the four players were taken so early, the Giants are always ready for the unexpected in the draft.
“We had really talked this through, me, Joe (Judge), Chris Mara, Tim McDonnell, Kevin Abrams and Mark Koncz, we had all discussed thoroughly, really looked at our board,” Gettleman said of the team’s personnel experts. “We had a lengthy meeting on Monday and we followed it up with another meeting on Wednesday and so we really – we knew what we wanted. We knew where we wanted to go, and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back and that’s where you get the other piece of it where we’re calling teams behind us.
“And then we met again at 6 o’clock tonight to just constantly review and talk it through and it was a great group effort and we all felt very – we all felt very together on the decision. And we made it.”
It was the Giants’ first such move in the opening round since general manager Ernie Accorsi traded with Pittsburgh 15 years ago. The Giants moved from No. 25 to the 32nd and final choice in the round and added third (No. 96) and fourth-round (No. 129) picks. The Steelers took wide Santonio Holmes and the Giants selected Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka to close out the first round. With the later round choices they received from Pittsburgh, the Giants selected linebacker Gerris Wilkinson and offensive lineman Guy Whimper.
Of course, Accorsi executed the franchise-changing trade for Manning on April 24, 2004. After the San Diego Chargers selected him first overall, Manning was traded to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers (whom the Giants had taken with the fourth pick), the Giants’ 2004 third-round pick, and 2005 first and fifth-round selections.
Via: Michael Eisen/giants.com
When the Jacksonville Jaguars secured the number one over pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there was no doubt that former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence would be their guy, and on Thursday night in Cleveland, it became official. The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the number one overall pick.
Jacksonville has been searching for a franchise quarterback, and now it appears they have found one in Lawrence.
“I couldn’t be more excited; I think it’s a great fit,” Lawrence said via a video conference. “This is going to be a really fun year, and just know that once I get there, all my focus, all my attention is to making us the best we can be, so thank you, guys.”
Lawrence, who never lost a regular-season game and won a national title at Clemson, is also excited to get working with Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who also hopes to have a successful transition from college to the NFL.
“First of all, with Coach Meyer, I got a great feel from just talking to him on the phone, and obviously, I’m excited to get down there and be in person with the guys and coaches and all that,” Lawrence said. “The biggest thing is that he’s a winner; you’ve seen he’s done that his whole career, so I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
At this point, it appears Lawrence could be the starter for Jacksonville in Week 1. When asked if he expects to be the Week 1 starter, Lawrence said the following:
“My mindset always going in is that I’m going to earn everything that I get, so coming in, I don’t have any expectations from anyone else other than myself,’ he said. “I expect to perform well and to adjust quickly, and be ready to go, and that’s something I expect a lot out of myself, so that’s where I’m at mentally. From there, like I said, it’s just about earning – I think the biggest thing is – the respect and trust of your teammates. Without that, it doesn’t really matter what you expect going in; you’ve got to earn that first. I’m just going to take it step by step, but like I said, I’m going to do everything in my power to prepare, to be the best I can be, and put us in the best chance to win.”
There is hope in Jacksonville with Lawrence in the mix, and if he’s who many think he could be, the Jaguars should have success like they never had before for years to come.
NFL free agency has evolved into a mix of blind dates and musical chairs.
Teams often commit millions of dollars to players without meeting face to face – a practice conducted even before the pandemic – at the risk of being the last one standing. The Giants, however, did it differently this year. Their relatively long courtship of free agents like Kenny Golladay, regarded as the top wide receiver on the market, was well-documented as they wined, dined, and ultimately signed.
“We had them in here and it was an old-school free agency,” general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday. “We got to talk, a chance to visit with them, they went out to dinner with various people in the organization, they were here a couple of nights, our doctors were able to put their hands on them. It was an old-fashioned free agency.”
“It wasn’t just our decision, the players wanted to come in as well,” vice president of football operations and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams said. “Both parties wanted to have the visit.”
The result was a free-agent class that surprised everyone but the people in the building.
“We got a pretty good understanding of what they’re about and that, to me, was a big advantage,” team president and chief executive officer John Mara said a few weeks ago when the dust settled after the first wave of free agency. “It’s much more difficult to do this when you can’t get the guys in the building and you have to make a commitment to a large amount of money without getting a chance to eye them up and talk to them and get a feel for them. I was happy that we were able to do that this year. It made it easier to give the final okay to say, ‘Yeah, go ahead, get the thing signed.’”
Mara described the approach as “thorough” in the recruiting cycle, stemming from the philosophy that fit supersedes skill when building a team. There was also a tangible reason to bring prospective players in for a visit: medical examination.
In 2020, Golladay missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain.
“Well, you bring him in because you want to get a physical on him,” Gettleman said. “That was the biggest reason, get a physical on him. But it was nice for a change to get to know a guy and have that opportunity to do that. Like I said, it was like the old days. The biggest reason was the physical.”
Meanwhile, a medical check of Kyle Rudolph, who signed with the Giants after a decade in Minnesota, revealed the need for the two-time Pro Bowl tight end to undergo a procedure to repair a foot injury stemming from last season.
Despite the discovery coming after he had agreed to terms, the Giants felt confident to follow through with the signing. “Once he went through all the medical evaluations, we didn’t think that it was necessary [to adjust the contract],” Abrams said.
“We are the Giants, we’re going to do everything with class,” Gettleman said. “We had an agreement, [head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Barnes] signed off on it, [head team physician] Doc [Scott] Rodeo signed off on it, so we were fine.”
While people like to count the dollars spent, how does the front office quantify how much they improved in free agency?
“From my opinion, and I think Dave would agree, I think our roster is a lot better now than it was at the end of the season,” Abrams said. “And the offseason is not over yet, so we’ll still have more opportunities to add players. So, I think we feel good with what we’ve done. I think we’re a deeper, more talented team.”
“You know, you can’t quantify it,” Gettleman said. “It’s not going to be quantified until the fall and we start playing in September. But we feel very good about what we’ve done, we feel very good about the direction the team is taking with getting Kenny signed and Kyle Rudolph and Devontae Booker and Adoree’ Jackson and Leo. We feel really great about that and we really feel we’re building a solid football team that the fans can be proud of.”
And they’re not done yet. The Giants hold six picks in next week’s draft, starting with the No. 11 overall selection.
Courtesy: Dan Salomone/Giants
The Buffalo Bills announced today that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York will be the new naming rights partner for Bills Stadium. Effective immediately, the home of the Bills will now be named Highmark Stadium.
“We are proud to welcome Highmark to the Buffalo Bills family and we are thrilled to partner with them on a new naming rights deal for our stadium,” said Kim Pegula, Owner/President of the Buffalo Bills. “We are confident that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is committed to maintaining their status as a healthcare and philanthropic leader in our region. We look forward to many years of working together with their team creating great memories at not only NFL football games but at many other health and wellness events and community celebrations.”
“The Bills are a beloved institution in Western New York, and there is no better way for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York to show that we plan to continue to be part of the fabric of this community than through this partnership. Together with our long-time partner, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, we envision this stadium to be an all-encompassing asset for our region and beyond,” said David W. Anderson, CEO, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. “Highmark Stadium is the proud home of the Bills. It will also become home for future events that enhance the health and overall well-being of our community.”
Fans can expect to see the signage transformation completed over the coming months and will be in place by the kickoff of the Bills 2021 season in September.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed QB C.J. Beathard, the team announced on Wednesday.
Beathard, 27, has played all four of his NFL seasons in San Francisco, where the 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Since then, he has appeared in 19 games with 12 starts and completed 291-of-497 passes for 3,469 yards and 18 TDs. He has also rushed for 233 yards and four TDs on the ground.
Most recently, he played in six games with two starts in 2020 and completed 66-of-104 attempts for 787 yards and six touchdowns in 2020.
The five-year veteran could be the backup to whoever Jacksonville chooses as the first overall pick in this year’s draft, which will probably be Trevor Lawrence. We’ll see what happens with Gardner Minshew, but it would be surprising if he is around after the draft. Therefore, this could be a decent opportunity for Beathard.
Beathard has a lot of interesting things going on in his bloodline. His grandfather, Bobby Beathard, spent 38 years working in the NFL, including 22 seasons as general manager of Washington (1978-88) and San Diego (1989-2000) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. Beathard’s brother, Tucker, is a country music singer, and his father, Casey, is a country music songwriter and has co-written singles for artists such as Billy Ray Cyrus, Kenny Chesney, and Eric Church.