Joe Schoen giants salary cap
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

While most of the world acts as if Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen invented football, one analyst is courageously going against the grain.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is ranking each NFL team’s offseason. He has the Giants at No. 29 — the fourth-worst offseason in the 32-team league, topping only the Raiders, Rams and Titans at Nos. 30-32 in that order. Barnwell’s explanation:

The organization appears to have bought into its own hype. An unexpected trip to the postseason and a road victory once they got there was a pleasant surprise for the Giants, who had been treating 2022 as a year to get their salary cap right and begin a rebuild. Their underlying performance wasn’t quite as impressive; they were outscored on the season and finished 21st in DVOA. They went 8-4-1 in games decided by eight or fewer points and were lucky to draw an even worse playoff opponent in the Vikings, whose DVOA ranked them as the sixth-worst team in the league. In response, the Giants appear to be running it back. … The cap space the Giants were supposed to be clearing last year went to (Daniel) Jones and (Saquon) Barkley, which limited what they could do to upgrade a defense that ranked 29th in DVOA last season.

Barnwell is spot-on. The Giants were not as good as their record indicated last season. And, had they not beaten the Vikings in the NFC wild card game, we would have spent much more time discussing the fact they went 3-6-1 down the stretch after a 6-1 start.

MORE: A journey inside Mad Dog’s beautiful mind

And while they had no choice but to pay Jones, they did not need to bring Barkley back. The moves to address a lack of offensive weapons have been to collect a gaggle of No. 3 receivers and trade for the injury-prone Darren Waller in a big-risk, big-reward move.

Linebacker Bobby Okereke was a solid signing, but pass rush concerns remain. And the secondary still has a slew of question marks, even after Schoen took cornerback Deonte Banks in the first round. And to go back to the top: Is Jones going to keep ascending? Did he max out last year? And if it is the latter, can he sustain that level of performance?

This Giants season has regression written all over it. The NFL schedule makers know it. Barnwell does too.

James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.