The role of general manager for an NFL franchise is to assess talent and construct the best roster possible through both the draft and in free agency. They are tasked with building a team from the ground up starting with the Head Coach whether it is retaining the same person from the previous regime or finding the next man up.
The responsibility of organizing and corresponding with the scouting department falls upon their shoulders as well as being creative and responsible with the salary cap. They must be able to field a competitive team for the upcoming season while still planning and making moves to ensure future success.
In December of 2017 the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns, who were both amid experiencing losing seasons and had the worst records in the league, fired their current general managers and hired their replacements before the year was out.
At the end of the 2017 season Browns became just fifth team in league history to go a whole year without a recording a single win. After relieving Sashi Brown of his duties following his failed “money ball” approach with the team, owner Jimmy Haslam hired former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey to assume the same role for Cleveland on Dec.7.
The Giants finished with the second-worst record in the league that year with 3-13 after making the playoffs the year before in 2016. They fired their general manager Jerry Reese in week 13 after nearly 11 years at the helm and hired former Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman on Dec.28.
Since they have been in charge of their respective organizations, these two front office executives have made significant moves and created tidal waves across the league with some of their decision making. However, one of them is being praised and venerated for his moves to make his team one of the hottest in the league and the other is being criticized and vilified in both local and national media for his recent moves.
While they both benefited from picking at the top of the 2018 draft after having such woeful records the year before and were able to select two of the most impactful players in last year’s class. The Browns finally found their franchise quarterback after two decades of stop gaps and failed attempts when they took the polarizing Baker Mayfield with the No.1 overall pick. The Giants would select the 2018 Offensive rookie of the year just one pick later in generational running back Saquon Barkley.
Both would go on to have historical record-breaking seasons as Mayfield would set the NFL rookie record with 27 despite not starting until week four and Barkley became just the third first-year running back to produce over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. While those two are considered home runs by both executives, it’s the moves they have made outside of those two picks that are being dissected, criticized and applauded in Dorsey’s case.
Dorsey is being praised by members in the media and across the league after putting together what looks like the most talented offense in the league, at least on paper. In less than two year’s he has taken the Browns from the laughing stock of the NFL to the team with the fifth best Superbowl at 15/1 according to vegasinsider.com.
The moves that prompted this meteoric rise for the franchise began last offseason when he traded for Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and followed that up by selecting Mayfield at No.1 and Pro Bowl rookie corner Denzel Ward just four picks later.
He would ramp up his efforts even more this offseason by adding four more Pro Bowlers to the roster after signing running back Kareem Hunt who he drafted when he was the GM for the Chiefs and who led the league in rushing in 2017, adding defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in free agency and trading for a pair of Giants in Olivier Vernon and Odell Beckham Jr. in a semi-blockbuster trade.
Gettleman, on the other hand, has been called delusional and incompetent this offseason after trading away one of the most dynamic players in the league and arguably the most dangerous receiver in the game for less than a King’s ransom. As well as expressing his unwavering commitment to an aging quarterback in Eli Manning who has won two Superbowls with the organization, but some believe that he has been carried by Beckham Jr.’s playmaking ability in recent years.
He has been trying to improve one of the team’s largest areas of weakness over the last two seasons since taking the reigns as he has devoted monetary resources and draft capital into the offensive line. He made former New England Patriots’ blindside protector the highest paid left tackle last offseason, drafted one of the top guard prospects in last year’s draft in Will Hernandez at the top of the second round and traded for Browns guard Kevin Zeitler.
As much of an effort as he is making in an attempt to put together a solid offensive line for Saquon to run behind and to block for Eli or his eventual successor, he has not shown the same attention to the teams’ defense. He traded away one of the league’s premier run-stuffing defensive tackles in Damon “Snacks” Harrison and their 2016 first round pick in corner Eli Apple last season before the trade deadline.
He also traded away their sack leader of the past to two seasons in Vernon in exchange for Zeitler and let their best defender walk in free agency as three-time Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins signed with their division rival in the Washington Redskins last week to a massive six-year deal worth $84 million
The two men who are longtime friends will forever be linked and compared to one another form their future dealings and transactions with one another as well as across the league. The two-year assessment of these two executives won’t be able to be completed until after the 2019 season has concluded so Gettleman still has some time to redeem himself in the eyes of experts and Giants fans everywhere if he can hit a couple of home runs in this year’s draft. The team holds two selections in the first round (4th and 17th overall) and is in prime position to acquire some top-flight talent with so many selections in the early rounds.