Week 1 has arrived.
The Giants will open up the regular season against the Tennessee Titans this Sunday.
Some random thoughts on Big Blue as the season finally begins:
Daboll mum on Martinez. Head coach Brian Daboll spoke with the media Monday, and didn’t reveal any specifics behind the recent release of Blake Martinez.
“All I’ll say is every decision that we make regarding releasing a player is always a difficult decision,” Daboll said. “Just like all our guys, I’d say good luck to Blake and the rest of the guys that we released; and we’re looking forward to getting ready on our preparations for Tennessee.”
“I’m not going to get into why release, why we didn’t release, where he’s at. That’s how we’re going to handle our stuff here in terms of our releases. Wish Blake the best and looking forward to moving on to this week.”
The parting of ways with the veteran linebacker so close to Week 1 was a shocker. But all in all, the move was justified.
The release was reportedly a mutual decision between Martinez and the organization. Martinez was set to be the top linebacker in Wink Martindale’s defense. However, the coordinator’s blitz-heavy system doesn’t rely too much on the typical run-stopping inside linebacker. Martinez is also coming off an ACL tear and may never be the same player again.
Although the release was definitely within reason, the loss of Martinez makes this Giants team worse, and it’s clear Big Blue is punting on the season.
Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen know they won’t be able to make much progress with this current roster. Various players on the team might be gone this time next year anyway — quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, wide receiver Darius Slayton, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, to name a few.
The new regime knows this isn’t the year to contend. So one of the main goals should be developing the young players who could be early pieces to the foundation. Martinez wasn’t one of those guys, but third-year linebacker Tae Crowder and rookie linebacker Micah McFadden might be.
Thibodeaux and Ojulari updates. Projected starting outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari are dealing with injuries. The former suffered a knee injury in the Giants’ Aug. 21 preseason game against the Bengals. Ojulari, the second-year player, suffered a calf injury in practice on Aug. 25.
Daboll on Monday told reporters the two pass rushers are day-to-day. This means either player’s status could be up in the air for the opener against the Titans.
Of course, you would like to have both Thibodeaux and Ojulari on the field against Tennessee. But if either needs additional time to recover, that’s fine. Both are looked at as potential long-term pieces on the roster. The Giants can’t risk re-injury with starters who are supposed to make legitimate impacts now as well as in the future.
If the coaching staff must rest Thibodeaux and/or Ojulari in Week 1 to ensure they’re healthy for the rest of the year, so be it.
Darius Slayton deadline deal? The Giants are likely going to keep trying to trade Slayton. It’s just unclear when a deal will get done, if at all.
There are seven receivers currently on the roster and Slayton is closer to the bottom of the food chain. He’s descended the depth chart following the acquisitions of Golladay (2021 free agency), Kadarius Toney (2021 draft), and Wan’Dale Robinson (2022 draft). Slayton’s production has also declined since his promising 2019 rookie campaign and he doesn’t provide any special teams value.
The Giants should look to trade him so they can recoup draft capital and earn back some of his scheduled $2.6 million 2022 cap hit.
But they could wait until the Nov. 1 NFL Trade Deadline to do so.
Slayton has an incredibly weak market right now due to the aforementioned issues regarding production and upside (or lack thereof). But the market could become just a tad bit stronger midway through the season.
A contending team could lose a receiver to long-term injury early in the year and then look to add Slayton. This would provide the Giants with at least some leverage in trade talks — as of right now, they have little-to-no leverage regarding a potential Slayton deal.