The Giants play on “Monday Night Football” less than 24 hours until the NFL trade deadline, and if they’re hoping to move Golden Tate, Kevin Zeitler or even Evan Engram, the Giants’ brass will be crossing their fingers for good health against the Buccaneers.
Entering Monday night at 1-6, the Giants aren’t even really contenders in a poor NFC East. They’ve already made one seller trade, sending away linebacker Markus Golden, and there could be more coming by Tuesday afternoon. Tate and Zeitler have both been recently reported as possible candidates to move, while Engram’s earlier potential to be traded seems to have cooled down.
Here’s a look at why Tate and Zeitler both would make sense for the Giants to trade and for a playoff team to want, while we also break down why Engram probably will stay put.
Why Giants could trade veterans Golden Tate, Kevin Zeitler
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Giants would be open to moving older, higher-priced veteran players. New York already send linebacker Markus Golden to the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 23 for a sixth-round pick, the first such move. Schefter also referenced the wide receiver Tate and offensive guard Zeitler as players who could be available.
With the NFL’s trade deadline coming after Week 8’s conclusion, each team will owe a player just more than half of his base salary the rest of the way. For the Giants, that means Zeitler is still owed about $5 million and Tate is still owed about $4 million, the second- and third-highest totals on the roster (behind Leonard Williams). Tate is signed through 2022, while Zeitler is signed through 2021, and each is owed more money in base salary next season than this season.
For the bottom-dwelling Giants, there isn’t much use to keeping the 30-year old Zeitler or 32-year-old Tate. It’s unlikely that New York will all of a sudden be Super Bowl contenders in 2021, so holding onto expensive veteran presences would only have value in the locker room and not much in the final standings.
Tate should have a meaningful market among contenders. He’s a proven possession receiver who also adds value as an experienced punt returner. While Zeitler has never made a Pro Bowl as a former first-round pick, there’s no such thing as too much depth along the offensive line.
New York likely wouldn’t expect much different in return than the day-three pick it received from Arizona for Golden, but that’s fine. The Giants get salary off their books as they go through a rebuilding phase while stocking up on future assets that could help Daniel Jones (or a newly drafted QB) when his peak comes.
Evan Engram’s potential, contract make him worth keeping for Giants
While Engram has been a disappointment more often than not for the Giants, he’s an entirely different case than Tate or Zeitler. The 26-year old Engram is still on his rookie deal, and he’ll be paid about $6 million in 2021 after earning less than $2 million in base salary in 2020. This isn’t the case of a burdensome contract.
Engram remains a player laden with potential as a 2017 first-round pick. At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Engram still has 4.4-speed in the 40-yard dash. As a rookie, his 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns foretold big things ahead. Unfortunately, though, Engram has struggled with injuries and even when he’s made it back on the field, drops have been an occasional issue.
Dealing Engram has two very different sides of a coin. A move to a new team could be good for Engram. While he hasn’t publicly voiced frustration, there’s no doubt a trade to a winning team could be energizing for a player. But on the other side are the Giants, looking to build an offense that works around Jones. Without a big offer (and reports have indicated Engram would probably be worth just a day-three pick), there’s a lot less incentive for New York to deal Engram.
There’s also the rest of the 2020 season to consider. While the Giants likely can’t contend for the playoffs even in a poor NFC East division, the second half of the campaign will be important for evaluating Jones’ future as New York’s franchise quarterback. Especially if Tate is moved, trading Engram might destine Jones for doom with just Darius Slayton and the oft-injured Sterling Shepard left to throw to. There’s more upside for the Giants in letting Engram keep growing alongside Jones than trading away a fair contract for a low-upside return.