By Declan Finn
The New York Giants found a star on offense this season, as Odell Beckham Jr. took the football world by storm with an amazing string of 100-yard games and catches that made highlight reels all over the country. But watching Beckham Jr. shine only partially hid the fact the Giants need a whole lot of work on the offensive side of the ball this coming offseason.
The Giants may be set at quarterback and wide receiver, but a lot of other positions need attending to, especially on the offensive line, or another non-playoff season will be the result a year from now and the organization will be starting over with a new general manager and head coach.
While filling many of the holes on offense will come from free agency and the draft, there are a lot of decisions that must be made with the current roster. But instead of waiting weeks and months for those decisions to be made, here is what should happen, as we play general manager and decide who should stay or who should go, or more succinctly, Pay Him or Slay Him. Read our defensive breakdown here.
PAY ELI MANNING: He resurrecting his season, and perhaps career, by helping turn Odell Beckham Jr. into a household name. Manning deserves a lot of credit for Beckham's huge season and there is no question he will get to do it all over again next year. Paying Manning is a no-brainer. His numbers were very good, with 4,410 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, and his interceptions were down, from 27 last year to 14 this past season. But most of all, Manning is a franchise quarterback. With teams across the NFL still searching for one, including the Jets, the Giants have it pretty good, even if Manning isn't exactly "elite."
PAY RYAN NASSIB: He's a young quarterback who can continue to learn under Manning and maybe take over down the line. It's not likely that will happen, but at least Nassib has been in the new system for a whole season now.
PAY RASHAD JENNINGS: The Giants were a different team when Jennings was healthy and able to carry the offense. But those times were few and far between this past season, and was a big reason why the Giants won just six games. Andre Williams wasn't nearly good enough as a replacement, and is best as a complimentary back, so there is little choice but to bring back Jennings and hope he can stay healthy. They could find another back in free agency, but Jennings at least knows the offense.
SLAY ANDRE WILLIAMS: Maybe we're being a little harsh, and it's not realistic to give up on a young running back this early who showed signs of being a very good player, but Williams is nothing more than a backup in the league. Williams had a couple of good games for the Giants as the lead ball carrier, picking up 131 rushing yards against Tennessee and 110 yards against St. Louis, two bad teams. But his bad games far outweighed the good. Take away those two games and Williams rushed for 479 yards this season. Williams had plenty of opportunities, carrying the ball at least 12 times in a game 10 times, rushing for over 100 yards twice, but never more than 66 in the other eight. He didn't even reach 50 yards in four games. He's a solid backup and spot starter, but little else.
PAY HENRY HYNOSKI: He carried the ball just seven times the entire season, but he's not expected to do much as a fullback. No reason to look elsewhere for a replacement.
PAY ODELL BECKHAM JR.: You saw with your own eyes how special Beckham Jr. was as a wide receiver this season, and really was the only reason to even watch a bad Giants team play in the second half of the schedule, so there is no chance he's going anywhere for a long, long time. Beckham Jr. does need to mature, however. That's about the only thing that can stop him from being a perennial Pro Bowl selection.
PAY VICTOR CRUZ: And hope he can regain the form that made him a great wide receiver before tearing his right knee up against the Eagles this season. Of course, with the emergence of Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle, the Giants aren't in a rush to see whether or not Cruz will make a quick recovery. In fact, if you were to argue the Giants don't need Cruz back, I wouldn't disagree. Cruz is mainly a slot receiver, which granted is a big part of NFL offenses nowadays, but if money was a concern, the Giants could cut bait and sign a cheaper alternative to compliment Beckham Jr. and Randle. It's a good problem for the Giants to have. But Cruz deserves to work his way back this offseason.
PAY RUEBEN RANDLE: In mid-December, this would have been a guaranteed "slay," but Randle saved his Giants career by going off for two huge games to close the season, cementing his place in the Giants pecking order at wide receiver. Randle caught six passes for 132 yards and a touchdown against St. Louis and then had six receptions for 158 yards in the season finale against the Eagles. Before that, Randle had been benched for the first quarter in two separate games and had a total of three catches for 39 yards in the two previous games before his breakthrough. No player saved his career in surprising fashion more than Randle did this season.
SLAY KEVIN OGLETREE: He didn't do much after signing with the team in October, so there's no reason to keep him around.
PAY PRESTON PARKER: He'd be a fine, young player to have in the fourth receiver slot, one that already knows the offense and has some chemistry with Manning. Parker had seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks in early November, so the talent is there.
PAY LARRY DONNELL: And hope he actually holds onto to the ball. Donnell had a breakout season of sorts with the Giants, catching 63 passes for 623 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost four fumbles, seemingly all in big moments, including two in one game against the Cowboys. He was much better in the first half of the season than the second, with five touchdowns coming in the first eight games and just one over the last eight. The Giants need to bank on Donnell taking the next step in his career for his third season in the league, and to hold onto the darn ball.
SLAY ADRIEN ROBINSON: Three years and no production means the Giants should look elsewhere for a tight end to compliment Donnell next season.
SLAY WILL BEATTY: The Giants need to admit their huge mistake of re-signing Beatty to a five-year, $38.75 million deal, with a whopping $12.5 million signing bonus, and get rid of the liability at left tackle. Beatty has been terrible since signing that deal, and there is no chance of him getting better. The Giants might as well save what they can dollar-wise and find someone else in the draft to take Beatty's place.
SLAY JOHN JERRY, J.D. WALTON and GEOFF SCHWARTZ: The Giants offensive line was horrible this season and needs a complete overhaul. Well, except for a couple of younger players that we'll get to that may have some upside. The rest? There's no point in having them stick around. Schwartz might have gotten a raw deal, as injuries ruined his first season with the Giants, but you can't trust someone who could never stay on the field. Dump them all.
PAY JUSTIN PUGH and WESTON RICHBURG: And hope both get better - a lot better. Pugh had a solid first season after being drafted in the first round, but took a major step back in his second year. Richburg was a second-round draft pick last year and could be the team's future at center. The Giants need both young players to improve greatly next year to give some stability to the offensive line.
Let us know who you would Pay or Slay in the comments section.