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Is time running out for New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman?

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Dave Gettleman’s arms flailed and a smile crept across his freshly shaven face as if trying to touch the corners of his rectangular glasses. The Super Bowl prize he had won as a front-office member of the New York Giants sparkled on his right ring finger while he laid out his intentions as the team’s general manager.

“My plan is to come in here every day and kick ass. That’s my plan, OK?” Gettleman said at his introductory news conference on Dec. 28, 2017. “And I’m going to keep doing it until they either take my key card or the Lord calls me home.”

This came minutes after he quoted 1970s sitcom grouch Archie Bunker and yelled, “Fumble!” as he knocked the miniature water bottle off the podium and onto the floor. Perhaps it was foreshadowing what was to come.

It has been 1,404 days since that news conference. Getting close to four full calendar years with way too many losses and not enough wins. In a league where production determines job security, the clock is ticking for Gettleman.

Steve Spagnuolo, who will be on the other sideline as defensive coordinator when the Giants (2-5) try to upset the Kansas City Chiefs (3-4) on Monday night (8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN), was New York’s interim coach when Gettleman was hired.

Seems like an eternity ago.

There have been big signings (receiver Kenny Golladay, linebacker Blake Martinez, cornerback James Bradberry), big trades (receiver Odell Beckham Jr., defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul and Leonard Williams), two coaching changes and four drafts since. Gettleman has had ample time to get the Giants right, but has three straight seasons of double-digit losses and another ugly start in 2021 to show for his work, even if the roster has made incremental gains.

The Giants are 17-38 since he was hired, and with Monday night road trips against last season’s Super Bowl participants in their next three games (they play 6-2 Tampa Bay on Nov. 22), they seem destined for a fourth straight losing season under their embattled GM.

To put all the losing into perspective, the Giants could put together an undefeated season and their record since his arrival would still be under .500.

‘Nobody should feel comfortable’

The list of recent general managers (or those with final say over personnel) to survive four straight losing seasons to begin their tenure is short.

Since 2000, Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead has been the biggest success story. The Rams had five straight losing seasons to start his tenure from 2012 to 2016, but have three postseason appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl since.

Dave Caldwell in Jacksonville, Reggie McKenzie in Oakland and Matt Millen in Detroit are the only others to be afforded the opportunity, and their overall results (two winning records in a combined 23 seasons) don’t make a strong argument for Gettleman.

“Look, you can make all the excuses you want, but the NFL is the ultimate bottom-line business. And Bill Parcells, who is revered around there, said it best of anyone. ‘You are what your record says you are,'” ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said last week on the Breaking Big Blue podcast. “You can get mad at people who are critical of the organization. You can get mad at people who are critical of your play on the football field, whether it be as a team or individuals overall. But the fact is their record is what they are.

“They’re a 2-5 football team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in years. And that is a problem for a team with that history that they have there. … Nobody should feel comfortable and nobody does, because there are nothing but professionals over there in that building.”

The reality is if things keep heading in this direction, changes are inevitable. Losing comes with consequences.

Executives around the league are under the impression the Giants are quietly looking at general manager possibilities, according to multiple sources.

Another ominous sign: The Giants and owner John Mara declined an opportunity to provide a public vote of confidence for Gettleman this week after doing so for head coach Joe Judge with a New York Post reporter several days earlier.

All potential, no production

“We got to fix the O-line, let’s be honest. Let’s not kid each other,” Gettleman said when he was hired.

Four seasons later, it hasn’t happened. The Giants have left tackle Andrew Thomas (the No. 4 overall pick in 2020 who is on injured reserve) and a bunch of question marks on their line beyond this season. Thomas has played much better in his second season, but was still ranked 38th with a pass block win rate of 86.7% prior to the injury. Not exactly the “Hog Mollies” Gettleman promised.

And all the offensive firepower he has drafted and signed (running back Saquon Barkley, receivers Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton and John Ross and tight end Kyle Rudolph) to support quarterback Daniel Jones, drafted No. 6 overall in 2019, doesn’t mean anything if the results don’t improve.

“Potential doesn’t mean squat in the NFL. Wins mean something in the NFL,” Riddick said. “Potential doesn’t do anything but get people to buy tickets in the offseason and buy jerseys in the offseason and get excited about the coming season, and it allows ownership groups to always sell what’s coming next down the line. Sell the future.

“And that is kind of like this cycle the Giants have been in.”

The injuries have been a crushing problem this season with six offensive line combinations in seven games and every starter at the skill positions missing at least two games. But that can’t be the job-saving excuse for Gettleman in Year 4 when players like Golladay, Barkley, Ross, receiver Sterling Shepard, and safety Jabrill Peppers are among those losses. All had missed at least six games over the previous two seasons.

As Gettleman said several years back: “Hurt guys get hurt. That is a phrase we have in scouting. It’s just the truth.”

It’s his job to provide depth and contingency plans, and if this season continues heading south, the injuries and lack of depth could be the final straw.

If the Giants are indeed looking for his replacement, it seems unlikely they would stay in-house given their eight losing records over the past nine seasons.

Possible replacements

Riddick, Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, New England Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler and Buffalo Bills assistant general manager Joe Schoen are expected to be in the mix should there be an opening. Internally there are assistant GM Kevin Abrams and director of college scouting Chris Pettit. Seattle Seahawks VP of player personnel Trent Kirchner is also highly regarded around the league.

Riddick interviewed for the job when Gettleman was hired. He impressed and remains highly regarded by Mara and the Giants. Ossenfort and Ziegler have preexisting relationships with Judge, which would philosophically align the organization. Schoen is expected by multiple league sources to be a hot name this offseason.

Still, a lot can happen in 10 weeks. If there were an organization that could convince itself to go down the Gettleman path for a fifth straight year, it would be the Giants. Mara is on record saying they never seriously contemplated moving on from him last year, no matter how hard that is to believe after a 6-10 campaign — the best of the Gettleman era. Mara cited the way the 70-year-old GM worked with Judge and the gains the team had made in its behind-the-scenes operations.

There is also evidence the Giants (cue the injury excuses) are headed in the right direction with their personnel, no matter how slow the progress. Keeping things intact has its benefits.

“The teams that have repeated success are the ones that have continuity,” said ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum, a big fan of Jones and Judge. “The easy thing is to make the change. But I think long term where the best franchises have been rewarded is to stay the course.

“I think this team has gotten better.”

This is why Judge is expected to be safe barring an absolute disaster down the stretch. He is in his second year, and Mara has admitted publicly and to those close to him that he gave up on former coach Ben McAdoo too quickly during a rough 2017 season.

McAdoo went 11-5 as a rookie head coach and was fired before his second season was over. Pat Shurmur followed and was out after two seasons working with subpar rosters as well.

The Giants want to avoid firing another coach after two seasons. This traditionally patient and loyal ownership group seems intent on sticking with Judge, a young head coach (38 years old when hired) who has earned respect with his process, poise and ability to handle the locker room through tough times.

Judge didn’t seem to be concerned about his future when asked about the trade deadline last week.

“I always think long-term. … I’ve said this from the beginning,” he said. “I’m not about taking shortcuts into anything. I’ve made it very clear in terms of my vision of the team and where I want to build it. It’s being built for long-term success.”

If Judge achieves that success, signs point to it happening alongside a different general manager.

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Arizona Cardinals expect Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins to play vs. Chicago Bears, sources say

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Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, listed as questionable for Sunday due to his lingering ankle injury, is expected to start vs. the Chicago Bears, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, also listed as questionable due to a hamstring issue, is likely to play vs. the Bears, as well. But the veteran could be used more sparingly than usual due to his injury and potential weather conditions, a source told Schefter.

In the week leading up to the Bears game, coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals took their familiar cautious approach to Murray’s status, considering his high left ankle sprain. On Friday, the coach said his quarterback’s status would be a game-time decision, in part because of strategy and in part because the memory of last year’s tailspin in the final nine games is still fresh in Kingsbury’s memory.

Murray was “better this week,” Kingsbury said, adding he’s hopeful that Murray will feel good and “be ready to roll.” Murray hasn’t played since spraining his ankle in the final moments of a Week 8 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Arizona heads into Week 13 with a 9-2 record, the best in the NFL, and owns the No. 1 seed in the NFC and first place in the NFC West.

Last year’s late-season tailspin, when Arizona went 3-6 after starting 5-2, in part because of multiple injuries to Murray, has also played a factor in Kingsbury being ultra-cautious with Murray.

“I just think we want to finish the right way this season and we didn’t last year,” Kingsbury said. “So, we’re just trying to be smart about it.”

Kingsbury hasn’t been surprised by how long Murray’s ankle has taken to heal because high ankle sprains are “tricky. Everybody knows that.”

Hopkins wasn’t on the field for the open portion of practice Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re just being smart,” Kingsbury said. “We want to make sure he feels really good for the stretch run, and so we’ll see how he progresses, run him on Sunday and see if he can go.”

Hopkins said having the last two weeks off because of the bye helped him “a lot.”

“Rest is key,” he said.

Hopkins, who had missed two games in his entire career before missing the last three, doesn’t think he’ll be rusty whenever he returns, and he isn’t concerned about his hamstring responding to him playing at full speed.

“I know what I can do out there when I’m healthy,” he said. “So, go out there and do my best to help this team win.”

ESPN Staff Writer Josh Weinfuss contributed to this report.

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If Ben Roethlisberger retires, who’s the next Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback? – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

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PITTSBURGH — As soon as the 2020 season finished, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger knew he wanted another shot.

With the Steelers’ season-ending skid and playoff debacle against the Cleveland Browns fresh in his mind, Roethlisberger made it known he was ready to attempt another Super Bowl run. After discussions, the Steelers determined they wanted that too, but not at Roethlisberger’s $41.25 million cap hit.

The two sides negotiated and came to a deal in March: Roethlisberger reduced his pay by $5 million for a $14 million salary in 2021 and added four voidable years to his deal, freeing up $15 million in cap space for the 2021 season.

And speaking in August, team CEO and President Art Rooney II didn’t rule out a scenario where Roethlisberger played beyond the 2021 season.

“It’s not written in stone that this is his last year,” Rooney told a small group of reporters at Steelers camp. “We’re aware this could be Ben’s last year. We hope it’s a great one. That’s as far as we can go with it right now. Obviously, if this is his last year, then next year we’ll be making decisions on a quarterback, and we’ll address it as the time comes up.”

But with six games left in the regular season, the 39-year-old quarterback is telling former teammates and some within the organization that he expects this to be his final season, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Steelers are 6-8-1 in their last 15 games including playoffs since starting 11-0 in 2020.

That leaves the Steelers without a clear path forward at quarterback — something they delayed while the organization attempted to build a supporting cast for Roethlisberger’s final run.

Who might the Steelers turn to under center? There isn’t an obvious choice, but there are plenty of options.

On the Steelers roster

Rudolph is the only quarterback currently on the roster with a contract through 2022. The Steelers believed he had first-round talent when they drafted him in 2018, but that hasn’t come to fruition in the four years since. Rudolph split the starting job with former UDFA Devlin “Duck” Hodges in 2019 after Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending elbow injury. The Steelers brought in Matt Canada in 2020, initially as a quarterbacks coach to further help develop Rudolph. When Canada was elevated to offensive coordinator in 2021, the Steelers hired veteran quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan to lead the position.

Rudolph started one game for the Steelers this season, filling in against the Detroit Lions after Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19. Afterward, Mike Tomlin said Rudolph “gave us a chance to win,” but he was inconsistent and often threw off-target and high. Rudolph is expected to remain with the organization in 2022 and have an opportunity to compete for the job. The Steelers also have former first-round pick Haskins on the current roster, though he couldn’t beat out Rudolph for the No. 2 spot through the preseason and training camp. He’s been inactive for all but one game this season. Sullivan praised Haskins for his development and attention to detail during practices, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to show growth in a game situation. During the preseason, Haskins had bright moments, but in his lone start, the preseason finale against the Panthers, he completed 9 of 16 attempts for 108 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

NFL draft

The Steelers are currently projected to have the No. 13 overall pick, and according to ESPN’s FPI, they have a 28.6% chance to have a top-10 pick. This year’s quarterback class is underwhelming. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones stands out from the current rookie class, but while the rest of the group has experienced growing pains, it’s still much stronger than the next group up. If the Steelers added a first-round quarterback to the room, they would be setting up for a longer-term rebuild — something coach Mike Tomlin might not want to do after more than a decade of working with Roethlisberger. But, the Steelers take pride in homegrown talent, and there’s at least one option that checks all the boxes.

The Steelers let Pittsburgh native and Pitt quarterback Dan Marino get away in the 1983 draft, and it kept them from having a solid succession plan after Terry Bradshaw. Now, they could make a move to keep Pickett in town. A Heisman contender and ACC Player of the Year, Pickett helped lead the Panthers to the ACC Championship game in his fifth season, and he threw for over 4,000 yards, 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions. And, his 79 career touchdowns passes tie him for first in school history Marino. Pickett is emerging as the Steelers’ best option in this class, but it’s not a sure thing they can move up high enough to get him.

Howell, with a career 10,078 passing yards and 91 touchdown passes to go with 1,006 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, is a better version of Baker Mayfield, and Willis has a strong arm along with his mobility. Corral also may go too high for the Steelers to make a play, but he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the class with a 68 completion percentage for 3,339 yards and 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 597 yards and 11 TDs.

Veteran quarterbacks

The Steelers prefer to draft and develop, but it’s not out of the question to think they could make a push for a veteran quarterback. The Steelers already have some key pieces entering the 2022 season that keep the team from undergoing a complete rebuild: T.J. Watt, Najee Harris, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Diontae Johnson, Cameron Heyward and Pat Freiermuth. The offensive line needs help in the offseason, and the Steelers will have to discuss big-ticket extensions for Fitzpatrick and Johnson, but the team could avoid a large-scale rebuild if they land a veteran quarterback. And, they have the money to do it. Roethlisberger’s voided contract carries a $10.3 million cap hit in 2022, but they’re projected to have about $45 million in 2022 cap space, according to OverTheCap and Spotrac. That number could rise even more with the new TV deals expected to push the salary cap even higher. The Steelers could put together a blockbuster trade to acquire a big name or settle for a middle-of-the-road free agent option and use their 2022 draft capital and cap space to bolster the offensive and defensive lines and secondary.

Trade targets

Amounts listed are the cap hits the Steelers would incur if they acquired the player in either a pre-June 1 trade or a post-June 1 trade. Figures are courtesy of OverTheCap.com:

  • Aaron Rodgers, Packers, pre-June 1 trade: $19.3 million cap hit; post-June 1 trade: $26.9 million cap hit

  • Russell Wilson, Seahawks, pre-June 1: $11 million cap hit; post-June 1: $24 million cap hit

  • Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers, pre-June 1: $25.6 million cap hit; post-June 1: $25.6 million cap hit

  • Derek Carr, Raiders, pre-June 1: $19.9 million cap hit; post-June 1: $19.9 million cap hit

  • Kirk Cousins, Vikings, pre-June 1: $35 million cap hit; post-June 1: $35 million cap hit

  • Deshaun Watson, Texans, pre-June 1: $24.2 million cap hit; post-June 1: $35 million cap hit, plus three years left on his contract

Outside of Watson, these options essentially have one year left on their current deals. Given his upside, cost and team’s current trajectory, Wilson, who is under contract through 2023, makes the most sense. He was unhappy prior to the season and Schefter reported Wilson would consider a trade to the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders or Bears. The Seahawks eventually smoothed things over but at 3-8 and a stint on injured reserve, Wilson’s season hasn’t gone according to plan and he could ask for a trade.

Like Wilson, Rodgers was also unhappy with his situation, but the Packers reworked his deal and voided the 2023 year, making 2022 the final year of his contract. However, Rodgers carries a $46.1 million charge against the Packers’ salary cap in 2022, guaranteeing the team would either have to move on from him or sign him to another extension. If another team trades for him, they would almost certainly rework his contract and give him new money and an extension. This season, his team is an NFC Super Bowl favorite, and he’s in the midst of another MVP-caliber season. But, never say never. Rodgers and Tomlin did a little flirting in the weeks around the Steelers Week 4 game against the Packers, with each complimenting the other in news conferences and smiling at each other when Tomlin called a timeout to keep Rodgers from quick-snapping on the Steelers’ defense. Rodgers also talked about his appreciation for Pittsburgh on Pat McAfee Show, further raising eyebrows. Still, Rodgers seems more content than he did a few months ago, making it less likely he winds up in black and gold.

Garappolo, who began his career as a backup in New England, became a lame duck quarterback the minute the San Francisco 49ers drafted Trey Lance No.3 overall in May. He’s not as flashy as Rodgers or Wilson, but he’ll likely have a lower asking price than the top-tier options. Since helping the 49ers to Super Bowl in 2019 with 27 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, Garoppolo has been average at best. In an injury-shortened 2020 season, he had seven touchdowns to five interceptions, and this season, he has 13 touchdowns to six interceptions. Lance is the obvious future in San Francisco, making Garoppolo a prime trade target.

Two other tradeable veteran quarterbacks to keep an eye on are Carr and Cousins, who both have one year left on their deals. Both the Raiders and the Vikings appear at a crossroads with their respective quarterbacks and coaching staffs. The Raiders (6-5) already fired Jon Guden, while Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman are approaching the hot seat with the Vikings sitting at 5-6. If ownership decides to start fresh in either situation, the Steelers could make a play for Cousins or Carr, although Cousins is the most expensive of the bunch.

And, there’s Watson. He hasn’t played a game this season and has told the Houston Texans he intends never to play for them again, and he would like to be traded. He also faces 22 civil lawsuits by women who accuse him of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. A no-trade clause allows him control over a destination, if the Texans are willing to trade him. Despite a flurry of activity before the trade deadline, Watson stayed put. But, until the civil cases are resolved, Watson comes with numerous unknowns, including the possibility of NFL discipline pending the outcome of the league’s investigation.

Free agents

Winston is the most viable longer-term solution for the Steelers among their free-agent options. Prior to his injury in New Orleans, Winston appeared poised to get his career back on track. In seven appearances, Winston threw 14 touchdowns to three interceptions, completing 59% of his passes. The Steelers had an opportunity to sign Winston when he became a free agent in 2020, but general manager Kevin Colbert said in April 2020 the team didn’t make any offers to any veteran quarterbacks, and Winston ultimately went to the Saints.

Dalton and Bridgewater are just OK options, and at best, would compete with Rudolph for the starting job as a band-aid until a stronger quarterback draft class materializes.

Dark horses

Like the free-agent class, these options are most likely temporary fixes — but intriguing options. Trubisky, a former first-round pick by the Chicago Bears, is backing up Josh Allen in Buffalo on a one-year deal. His best season came in 2018 when he threw 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, and while his tenure as the second-overall pick was disappointing, he has potential to rejuvenate his career in the right circumstance.

Once Washington’s fourth-string quarterback, Heinicke has been pretty solid as the Washington Football Team’s starter after Ryan Fitzpatrick went down. He even helped his team overtake a Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers team in Week 10. He’s under contract in 2022. Washington isn’t likely to part with him, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

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Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (ankle) a game-time decision vs. New York Jets, sources say

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles want to see how quarterback Jalen Hurts‘ injured ankle is feeling before making a final decision about his status for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

If Hurts is unable to go, Gardner Minshew would make his first start for Philadelphia since being acquired in a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars in August.

Minshew got the lions’ share of snaps during practice on Thursday and Friday.

Hurts sprained his ankle in the second half against the New York Giants when he was stepped on. He finished the game but was limping noticeably at times.

Earlier this week, Hurts declared that he would be “ready to go” for the Jets game.

“You guys obviously know I’m dealing with a little something, but it’s business as usual,” he said.

Hurts is expected to remain the Eagles starter regardless of how Minshew plays. He has completed 60.1% of his passes through 12 games for 2,435 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions while racking up 695 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Hurts is coming off arguably his worst start as a pro, throwing a career-high three interceptions in a 13-7 loss to the Giants.

The Eagles acquired Minshew for a conditional 2022 sixth-round pick in late August. He has appeared in one game this season, going 2-for-2 for 11 yards in the closing minutes of a blowout win over the Detroit Lions. Minshew, 25, started 24 games over two seasons in Jacksonville, completing 62.9% of his throws for 5,530 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“I feel confident with either guy — either of the guys if they have to go play the way they prepared all week and went about their business,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said earlier this week.

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