Joe Judge’s trust in Dave Gettleman is ultimate Giants risk

Joe Judge’s trust in Dave Gettleman is ultimate Giants risk

In Dave Gettleman Joe Judge Trusts.

Gettleman went to the corner store on the first day of free agency for James Bradberry, after keeping Leonard Williams in blue for 2020 if not longer.

Judge is clearly trusting Gettleman’s player evaluations on a defense desperate for an influx of new blood and talent.

Gettleman, as Panthers GM, drafted Bradberry in the second round in 2016 to help replace Josh Norman and Monday night made him a $15 million cornerback to help DeAndre Baker develop opposite him.

Bradberry, whose tackling won’t remind anyone of Darrelle Revis, has eight career interceptions and at 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, a chance to be what former Giants GM Jerry Reese expected Eli Apple to be.

Over a three-game span in 2018, Bradberry held Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Odell Beckham Jr. to a combined 18 catches on 31 targets for 254 yards and one TD. Mike Evans was the only receiver last season with a 100-yard game against him.

Bradberry, who turns 27 in August, was the best free-agent corner on the market not named Byron Jones, who commanded a reported $17 million AAV with the Dolphins.

This was Gettleman after drafting Bradberry and then CB Daryl Worley in the third round: “They’re both big, they’re both long, they can both run, they’re both physical, and they both have great ball skills.”

Giants GM Dave Gettleman
Giants GM Dave GettlemanCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Not long after midnight, Gettleman addressed his barren linebacker corps by adding tackling machine Blake Martinez (3 years, $30 million), a durable 26-year-old out of Stanford whose last three total tackling stats read 144, 144 and 155, with eight sacks over the past two seasons. Martinez, the Packers’ 2019 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, will be an upgrade over Alec Ogletree.

On the defensive line, Williams will never be Justin Tuck, much less Michael Strahan. And he will probably never be the Leonard Williams the previous Jets’ regime thought they were getting when they were thrilled he had fallen to them with the sixth pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. If he was, new Jets GM Joe Douglas wouldn’t have unloaded him at the trade deadline last season for what will be the 68th pick of next month’s draft and a 2021 fifth-rounder.

It was risky business by Gettleman, who would have had egg all over his face had Williams proved to be nothing more than an eight-game rental, and it remains risky business now.

Gettleman’s Gamble:

Williams will be more valuable than the 68th pick of this draft, at least this season.

Judge and new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can get more out of Williams than Todd Bowles, Adam Gase, Gregg Williams and James Bettcher could.

Williams will love playing for Judge and Graham so much, will love being a New York Giant so much, that the best is yet to come and he will grow into the leader he was beginning to be with the Jets.

In which case Gettleman will be proven right that “the juice was worth the squeeze.”

He better be right.

For the umpteenth time: Leonard Williams is a good football player, he is in no way, shape or form a great football player.

Which means, of course, that he is not worth the $16.1 million franchise tag.

Pass rushers command that kind of money.

Leonard Williams, for all the buzzing he does around the quarterback, is not a pass-rusher.

It doesn’t mean he is Cedric Jones, the Giants’ No. 5-overall pick of the 1996 draft who recorded 15 sacks over five seasons. It doesn’t mean he is Marvin Austin, a 2011 second-round bust.

For one, he will only turn 26 years old in June.

For another, he is versatile enough to play anywhere along the defensive line.

For another, he is one of those high-character players Gettleman and Judge seek for their locker room.

For another, there is juice there to squeeze: Williams has a Pro Bowl (7.0 sacks, 25 QB hits, 86 tackles, 11 TFLs) following the 2016 season on his résumé.

For another, Williams became the youngest player in Jets’ history at 22 to be awarded team MVP honors.

Giants fans: ‘Where is that Leonard Williams?’

Gettleman dodging a bullet for now doesn’t get him in the clear just yet.

If he loves Williams so much, loves him more than everyone else apparently, he now needs to sign him prior to July 15 to a long-term deal in the $12 million neighborhood.

Williams said at the end of the season, “I love New York, I love where I’m at. I’d want to stay here.”

While he’s here, lining up alongside Dexter Lawrence will give him a chance to juice his sack totals and silence the naysayers.

“If you’re constantly around the quarterback, eventually it’s just gonna pop and you’re gonna be getting the sacks, you know what I mean?” Williams said.

If you are a bewildered, skeptical Giants fan, you should feel a measure of solace that Judge, who has heavy input in personnel, signed off on keeping Williams.

After these last two seasons of despair, all Giants fans are in agreement on this:

Gettleman better be right.

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