By Michael Stewart/@golferbad

Introduction: The New York Giants are going to have some decisions to make over the next several season with their players currently still in their rookie contracts. GM Dave Gettleman has been able to add cap space for a rainy day and could possibly add more by the off season. Let’s take a look at the list of players still in their rookie contracts that the Giants must make a decision on whether they are part to the future or not.

Part of the future

  • Saquon Barkley (RB): Barkley was the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft and his performance as a rookie didn’t disappoint anyone. Unless an unforeseeable injury threatens his career, Barkley will be part of the team’s future.
  • Daniel Jones (QB): Jones was the 6th overall pick in the 2019 draft and despite having issues holding on to the football, Jones had a very impressive rookie campaign. If Jones continues to improve in the upcoming seasons, he will definitely be part of the future.
  • Will Hernandez (OG): Hernandez followed Barkley in the 2018 draft in round 2 and had a solid rookie season. Hernandez had a minor setback in 2019, however; his overall play and projection should make him part of the future.
  • Dexter Lawrence (DL): Lawrence was part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and the Giants selected him 17th overall in the 2019 draft. Lawrence had a solid rookie campaign being named to the all rookie defensive team. If he continues this trend, he will be part of the future.
  • Darius Slayton (WR): Slayton was a 5th round pick 2019 and made the most of his opportunities in 2019 with the 4 game suspension of Golden Tate and the injuries to both Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Slayton led all receivers in yardage and touchdowns as a rookie and it appeared that Slayton improved with each game. 2020 should be year that Slayton improves more and takes that next step and if so, he will be part of the future.
  • Julius Love (S): Love was drafted in round 4 as a cornerback and quickly transitioned over to safety and played the second half of the season well enough to envision him as a mainstay in the secondary. The Giants have been rumored strongly that they will be looking for a safety in the upcoming draft to compete with Love and/or to replace Jabrill Peppers once his rookie contract is up (more on him below). If Love can continue to improve at the safety position, there’s a good chance he will be part of the future.

On the Bubble

  • Evan Engram (TE): Engram was drafted in the 2017 NFL draft with the 17th overall pick and thus far has shown the inability to stay on the field, suffering a season ending injury (foot) last year.  When healthy, Engram has displayed some highlight moments, but is it enough to be a long term solution? At this point, he is on the Bubble.  
  • Dalvin Tomlinson (DT): Tomlinson was the Giants 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft and has improved steadily each year. The problem here is that Tomlinson is competing against history as the Giants usually don’t offer contracts to their defensive tackles after their rookie contract expires. This makes Tomlinson on the Bubble.
  • Jabrill Peppers (S): Peppers wasn’t drafted by the Giants as he was part of the OBJ trade, but he is also reaching the end of his rookie deal. Peppers showed some ability with a few highlighted moments, but for the most part didn’t sustain the consistency the Giants had hoped for before his injury (back) ended his season in week 14. Peppers fate could be determined on if and when the Giants select a safety in this year’s draft. If it’s early, we could see a possible changing of the guards, or in this case, safety. At this point, Peppers is on the bubble.
  • B.J Hill (DL): Hill was drafted in the 3rd round in 2018 and had a solid rookie year and then took two steps back in 2019. The Giants still have confidence in Hill and he still has time to redeem himself. This makes Hill on the Bubble.
  • Lorenzo Carter (OLB): Carter was a 3rd round pick in the 2018 NFL draft as many football experts had Carter projected to go in round 2. Carter also had a solid rookie season and like Hill digressed in his sophomore season. The Giants still like what Carter brings to the table, but at this point and time he is on the Bubble.
  • Ryan Connelly (ILB): Connelly was a 5th round selection in the 2019 draft and made a solid first impression with his 2 game performance. Displaying solid play against the run and in pass coverage. However; a season ending injury (knee) after just two games puts Connelly in position to once again compete for not only a starting spot, but also to convince the coaching staff that he is part of the team’s future. At this time, Connelly is on the bubble.
  • D’Andre Baker (CB): Gettleman traded back into the 1st round to select Baker with the 30th pick in the 2019 draft and Baker had a very up and down season as a rookie. By his own omission, Baker was lost with his defensive assignments and rumors of him falling asleep during team meetings didn’t sit well with the coaching staff. Baker will be given a clean slate by New Head Coach Joe Judge, but it’s going to be a very short leash. At this time, Baker is on the Bubble.
  • Oshane Ximines (OLB): Ximines was the Giants 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft and had a good rookie season being used primary as a pass rushing specialist. The Giants hope that the X-man can take a step up and become more of a 3 down linebacker, if so then he is on his way. However; at this time Ximines is on the bubble.

On the way out

  • R.J McIntosh (DT): McIntosh was drafted in the 5th round in the 2018 draft and got injured early in training camp and saw limited action as a rookie. Last season, McIntosh was giving more playing time and really hasn’t done enough in my opinion and needs to have a solid 2020 season to warrant a contract after his rookie deal or he will be on the way out.
  • Chris Slayton (DT): Slayton was selected in the 7th round in the 2019 draft and spent most of his time on practice squad. The Giants have brought in Austin Johnson through Free Agency and there’s a good chance they select a defensive lineman in the 2020 draft as well. Slayton really needs to make the most of his chances or he will be on the way out.
  • Sam Beal (CB): Beal was a supplemental pick by Gettleman and it cost the Giants a 3rd round pick to get him. Beal was delayed due to an injury (shoulder) he suffered during the first week of practice (non-contact) and his play hasn’t been what the Giants had hoped for. Beal really needs to turn his fortunes around immediately as I expect the Giants to draft at least one cornerback in this year’s draft; which could put Beal in jeopardy and he could be on the way out.
  • Corey Ballentine (CB): Ballentine was selected in the 6th round by the Giants in the 2019 draft and had a setback immediately suffering a gunshot wound to back side. Ballentine once healthy had a tough rookie season primary because he played out of position as a slot corner. The competition at the corner position is going to intense and at this point, Ballentine could be on his way out.

Final Thoughts: That’s a total of 18 players currently under rookie contracts for the Giants and for teams to develop into solid contenders; they need to retain their picks beyond their rookie deals. Among the 18 candidates, the Giants have most of them on the bubble and hopefully by season’s end, some of these players will be considered part of the future. The 2020 NFL draft could play a major part in the fate of some of these players as the Giants will 10 picks to help to improve the team and let’s not forget the UDFA signings that proceeds immediately after the draft as often times, team’s do find hidden gems among the undrafted.