Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 09-04-18

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Aaron Klein

Now that the Giants have turned in a so-called final 53-man roster, then tweaked it afterward in an effort to build a Week 1 depth chart, we have to look at the surprise picks, the unclear motives and the personnel strategies employed by general manager Dave Gettleman, head coach Pat Shurmur and his staff.

First, though, a moment captured in time that should be known by all.

There was Alex Tanney, young but still six years removed from his college days, sitting at the locker after the Giants' final preseason game, talking about how he planned to spend the weekend of final cuts. He described the routine that he and his wife, still in Tennessee, have built over the last few seasons: dinner, maybe a movie, just hang out and hope that he had collected enough tape during the summer to parlay that into signing with another team, resigned to the idea that he would be released by Saturday afternoon and yield to Eli Manning, last year's third-round pick Davis Webb and this year's fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta.

His face showed that the foregone conclusion carried a little disappointment while still understanding that it was a part of the way things are, getting used to the idea since he was on the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad in 2012. The only regular season action he has since was in one game with Tennessee in 2015, going 10-for-19 with a touchdown. The next season, he spent time on the practice squad and the regular roster before landing on Injured Reserve in 2017. Following his release early this year, the Giants signed him as a fourth quarterback, seen by many as a camp body.

After 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, Tanney was still on the roster and rumors percolated that the Giants were trying to trade one of their three backup quarterbacks, especially Webb. It was a curious move and while the Giants were never going to carry four quarterbacks once the season begins, suddenly Tanney had a chance.

On Sunday, the Giants failed to trade Webb (or Tanney or Lauletta) and Webb was released to make room on the roster for one of six waiver claims. Again, Webb was released and, at least for the time being, Tanney found himself on the regular active roster with a fighting chance to be the backup to Manning while Lauletta, the rookie, is developed.

"I'm just going to keep preparing the way I've always prepared throughout my entire career," Tanney said, "that's like I'm going to play, and that decision is ultimately up to the coaches."

Of course, even in the surprising position Tanney found himself, more intrigue bubbled up on Monday, when reports surfaced that the Giants had scheduled a workout with former Kansas City reserve Matt McGloin. Surely, if the Giants decide they like McGloin, Tanney would be the first out and the roster rug could be pulled out from under him just like that.

"Here's the thing with a veteran backup quarterback," Shurmur said when asked about Tanney (or McGloin). "They can go in and function with very few reps and I think that's an attribute that I look for in a guy that could potentially be a backup to a guy like Eli, because they don't get that many reps during the training sessions.

The bigger question for the Giants and Shurmur was simple: Why, after playing Webb nearly the entire preseason, was he let go.

"I mentioned long ago there was no depth chart behind Eli," Shurmur said. "That's where people start to assume because he is taking the second-string reps he is the second-string quarterback. It didn't play out that way.

"Talking with Davis, a young player who competed hard that you have the same conversation with, that's where the human element of this comes in, but we make those decisions and then we move forward," Shurmur said.

The Giants made a league-high six waiver claims with their No. 2-priority slot and were awarded defensive end Mario Edwards, center Spencer Pulley, wide receiver Kaelin Clay and defensive backs Michael Jordan, Kamrin Moore and Antonio Hamilton. The Giants also reportedly have a scheduled workout with wide receiver Breshad Perriman, assuming he left his workout with the Jets on Monday without a contract.

Interestingly, the Raiders, who waived Edwards, had inquired about trading for Webb but a deal was never struck, and the Raiders traded for Buffalo's A.J. McCarron, who was traded from Cincinnati early this season. The Giants, in effect, got Edwards, the Raiders' second-round pick in 2015, for free.

The roster situation overall is still in flux and the changes may continue into early this week before the Giants set their roster for the opening game against Jacksonville on Sunday. Even then, it may not be all over as veteran free agent contracts are not guaranteed after Week 1 is complete. If you're wondering about players like safety Eric Reid, it would be financially prudent for teams to wait one more week before moving on him.

Curiously, however, as Sunday afternoon's activity heated up, the Giants had made few acquisitions to improve the offensive line. In fact, there was more subtraction than addition as Pulley was the only new player added to the O-line so far. Of course, there will be more additions as the week progresses.

To make room for the new waiver claims, the Giants had to release five players after Webb. As of Sunday afternoon, they had let go of defensive back William Gay, defensive tackle Josh Banks, wide receiver Hunter Sharp, guard John Jerry and tight end Jerrell Adams.

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