To say the New York Giants have been active in free agency would be a huge understatement. Were some of those moves made to send a message to Eli Apple?
Following a 3-13 season, changes to the New York Giants roster were inevitable and necessary. General manager Dave Gettleman has been busy shaking things up in an attempt to improve the roster.
So far this offseason they’ve added key free agents like left tackle Nate Solder and running back Jonathan Stewart, and they’ve traded for linebacker Alec Ogletree.
But they’ve added more talent to the secondary than any other part of the roster.
After releasing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants signed Michael Thomas, B.W. Webb, Curtis Riley and Teddy Williams. Just recently they signed longtime Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher loves to blitz, so the Giants need as many defensive backs as they can who can cover receivers one-on-one. But maybe all of these signings were also meant to send a message to Eli Apple, one that says if he doesn’t change his ways, the Giants are willing and able to move on without him.
It would be an understatement to say that Apple hasn’t lived up to expectations after being selected 10th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State.
In his two seasons with Big Blue, he’s recorded 100 tackles, forced one fumble and intercepted one pass. That kind of production is something you would expect from a late round pick or an undrafted free agent, not a first-round pick.
Throw in a handful of pass interference penalties, a nasty habit of getting beat on touchdown passes and, what appears, at least, to be a lack of effort in crucial moments, and it’s surprising that he’s lasted as long as he has.
Worst of all, it’s been widely reported that he’s not a favorite in the locker room. In December, during an interview with ESPN’s Bob Wischusen, Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins called Apple a “cancer.”
“There’s only just one corner that … needs to grow, and we all know who that is,” said Collins, one of the more popular players in the locker room. “That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group. Besides, the other two guys, [Rodgers-Cromartie] and [Jenkins], I love those two guys. They play hard. They love what they do.
“But that first pick … he’s a cancer.”
A few days later, Apple got into a heated exchange with cornerbacks coach Tim Walton at practice and was suspended for the Giants season finale against the Washington Redskins.
There are clauses in Apple contract that allow the Giants to void his guaranteed money in 2018 and 2019 if he engages in conduct detrimental to the team. So it’s possible the Giants could cut Apple without any financial ramifications.
It’s a known fact that Apple had been dealing with family issues that could have affected his actions both on and off the field in 2017. But the Giants need for him to be all in, both mentally and physically, going forward.
Despite a shaky first two seasons in the NFL, Gettleman wants Apple to be part of the team in 2018 and hopes he shows up Monday for offseason workouts, as he told ESPN’s Jordan Raanan back in February.
Dave Gettleman adds he likes what he heard from Eli Apple. When asked if he'll be on roster this year: "I hope he shows up April 9" for offseason workouts.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) February 28, 2018
But make no mistake about it: Gettleman is a no-nonsense guy and will move on from Apple if his actions and/or attitude don’t change. In addition to the defensive backs the Giants have signed this offseason, they could easily use one of their mid-round draft picks to replace Apple if things don’t improve.
There’s no denying that physically, Apple has what it takes to have a successful career in the NFL. The only thing holding Eli Apple back from success, at this point, is himself.