Friday, April 17, 2009

Giants: WR talk

Let the trade rumors, draft rumors and trade-draft rumors begin. Again. Just when we thought the trade rumors for available pro WRs were dying down, that Boldin was off the market and that the trade talks for Braylon Edwards had been exposed as false and just chatter, they get fired up again. First, the Cardinals announce that they have officially put Anquan Boldin on the trading block and will consider trade proposals for him. Of course, they don't want to give him away cheap, so to keep his value up and maintain leverage in trade discussions, they announce that their preferred course is to keep him and negotiate a new contract with him. Of course, if they can't do that or if some other team wants him badly enough to blow their socks off with a ridiculous offer, they would consider accepting it. This is a fairly transparent ruse by the Cardinals. If they really wanted to negotiate a deal with him, they would have done so already. To be honest, every team wants a situation like this cleared up before the draft so they can have their priorities set and they maintain their leverage with existing players. If they were to draft a WR, for example, it would be pretty apparent that they are going to dump Boldin and other teams would not be incented to offer much. If they can keep up the pretense that they want to keep Boldin, then teams that are interested will have to sweeten the deal in order to entice the Cardinals to give him up.

The other player that had been rumored to be on the trading block and that also had been considered to be a player of interest to the Giants was Braylon Edwards of the Browns. Rumors were flying a month or so ago and got detailed enough to have the specific package of players and draft choices that were purportedly discussed in the proposed trade. The specific packages were all denied by NYG GM JR as to their contents or even that any specific players were discussed. Of course that probably means that it is precisely and completely accurate, but it matters not. All Reese would admit is that he had discussions with the Browns GM about Edwards. After the rumors were apparently squelched a few weeks ago, the fires got stoked again with reports in various media outlets that the trade talks had picked up again. It's funny how these things get started. There's one report that pops up somewhere, in this case it seemed to be on yahoo sports; and all the other media outlets pick up on it and report it. They are not reporting based on direct interviews with people involved in the management of the teams, they are reporting on other rumors reported in other media outlets. It's reporting on the reporting, rather than reporting on the facts. You could call it meta-journalism and it is becoming more and more common in the modern information age. So what starts out as one reporter speculating and giving an opinion that is nearly baseless, gets reported by 12 other media outlets and all of a sudden, the story has some legs.

My opinion is that Boldin could be a good match for the Giants, depending on how the Giants evaluate their current class of WRs. If they think Hixon, Manningham or Moss can be a serious deep threat, then Boldin might be a good match to provide experience, toughness and consistency to a young receiving corps. If however, they like their WRs but don't think they have a true deep threat among them to stretch the field, then Boldin who has very-good-but-not-burner speed might not be the fit that they need. If they decide that Boldin is a match, the question becomes how much compensation the Cardinals want for Boldin. By this measure, I know Edwards is an attractive WR, attractive player and seems to fit the need for a deep threat, but he will require a much more expensive package from the Giants to land him.

The gossip, by the way, is that Edwards, while enormously talented, was not well respected in the Browns locker room. The Giants may not want to experiment with another high maintenance player after the Burress experience.

Giants salary cap is a bit stretched and they may not want to give Edwards a big contract. By the same token, they will not give up a big package of picks for a rent-a-player and Edwards contract is up after this year. Unless a player is locked up for a few years, he is not worth a huge ransom to pry him away from his current team. So the Giants have two negatives going in any potential Edwards deal: Browns want an expensive package of compensation and Edwards will want a big contract to stay. If the Giants do not sign Edwards to a contract extension, a large package in a trade for him is not worth it. Conversely, giving him a big contract up front before they have learned whether Edwards is their kind of player is not good business. Consequently, I don't think it is a likely trade. They could negotiate an incentive based contract with all kinds of conditions and escalators, like they did for Burress, but there is no reason for Edwards to sign a contract like that with a new team. He would be better off waiting through the year and becoming a FA. Of course, the Giants would not make a trade if that were the case.

There is another possibility - the Giants could make a conditional trade with the Browns, similar to the one the Saints did with the Jets for Vilma. Give the Browns a draft pick now, and if Edwards signs with the Giants at the end of the year, the Giants would then give the Browns additional compensation. If he becomes FA and signs elsewhere, the Browns keep only the compensation that they will have gotten this year. That works for the Giants, but the Browns may not like that deal, because they get less in return.

My personal guess is that the Giants will stick with the young WR group that they have, will draft a WR to augment the group and sign an experienced pro that becomes available to provide some stability. The pro may be someone like Matt Jones, recently cut by the Jaguars who will not cost them much but will give some security, reliability and predictability to the WRs.

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