Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown
June 13, 2023
Q: How much of your role changes when you’re out here at camp and watching some of these undrafted guys or back-end rookie guys compete?
A: Yeah, just looking for competition every day. I think the biggest thing when you look at the 90-man roster from last year to this year is improving the depth. We don't want anybody to be comfortable. Every day we wanted to make sure, hey, everyone has to earn their check. I think at whatever level you are on the roster; the undrafted guys are going to be given an equal opportunity. You see how many rookies that we played last year. It’s merit based. Best man wins out.
Q: The testament to that was how many undrafted guys you had last year juxtaposed to what you guys have this year. Is that a testament to the depth you guys built last season as opposed to where you are now?
A: Yeah, I think we improved the depth, and I think as you churn the roster, especially that bottom third, if you do a better job in Year One, Year Two, you're not going to have that much attrition where you're going to need those heavier numbers.
Q: You’ve been here more than a year now. How much has your role in general grown and have you done the other parts of what comes with being a general manager or assistant general manager like getting involved in contract negotiations, being involved a little more in free agency and that stuff?
A: It’s a kitchen sink, actually. It hasn't changed. It’s been the same throughout where I've been fortunate with my relationship with (general manager) Joe (Schoen). It’s everything from us doing the renovation on the draft room, and free agency, and trade talks, and contracts, all those things fall under the umbrella. I'd like to steal Joe's words where he says, ‘Hey, somehow if I'm not available one day, the ship should be rowing smooth, and the boat all goes in the same way, and the agenda doesn't change.’ That's why I'm so glad that we’re tight at the hip.
Q: From your standpoint, how important was it to just be faster as a team and especially as an offense? Watching those receivers, it seems a stark difference.
A: Yeah. I think that's part of the collaboration process. We get with the coaches in the postseason, we say, ‘Hey, how do we get better? What areas do we need to improve on?’ We’re not satisfied on how the season ended, and being explosive is one of them. You see them from the tight end position to the wide receiver position. You don't have to accumulate long drives when you can have the quick-strike ability.
Q: How has (executive advisor to the general manager) Ryan Cowden fit in?
A: Oh, great. With Ryan, I like to say the evaluators evaluate the evaluators, and out on the road, Ryan and I, we've crossed over for years. I think he's another valuable piece that we were able to add. I’d say, no different than the roster, with front offices, you want to acquire, develop and retain. You want to bring the best talent in and develop the talent that you do have, and then hopefully you can retain it. So, with Ryan, he's another piece that he's going to be a vital part to our decision-making group along with obviously (director of player personnel) Tim (McDonnell), (assistant director of player personnel) Dennis (Hickey), (director of pro scouting) Chris (Rossetti), our area scouts and our pro department.
Q: Where do things stand with (running back) Saquon (Barkley) and do you expect there to be negotiating up until July 17?
A: I appreciate you asking the question. Obviously, we’ve been going around with Saquon in communication since about nine months now, but that’s above my paygrade in terms of divulging some of the stuff that we’re going to keep in house. But we love Saquon. He knows how I feel about him, he knows how we feel about him collectively, but we’re going to handle the business inside with him. I’m excited whenever he’s back, but I know he’s taking care of his business right now.
Q: How hard is it to mend feelings that can get hurt in this process, especially if there’s not a new, bigger contract at the end of it?
A: I think when you're dealing with someone who is extremely mature like Saquon, you can separate the personal and the professional. I think that's when you have honest and open conversations. You take the feelings out of it. You're able to establish common ground. It doesn't mean you're going to agree, but that's what I appreciate about him. He can listen, and he can digest the information we're giving him, and he can tell us his feelings as well.
Q: What’s it like to have a day where (former Giants head coach) Bill Parcells and (former Giants defensive end) Michael Strahan are watching this camp? Do you think that has an effect on the players, the morale, anything like that?
A: Yeah, I think it speaks to the culture that we're building. It's contagious. Guys want to be around; they want to come back. It's something that you want to be a part of when you know something good is brewing. You want to see, what does it feel like on a day-to-day basis? Is it just something that’s temporary or is it something that has longstanding staying power? I just think you look at the guys that we’ve added in the offseason via free agency and trade with (tight end) Darren Waller, I think we’ve added guys that were about our fabric: smart, tough and dependable. We’re not just saying it; it’s not just a tag or a slogan. We see it in the day-to-day. You guys have been out here; you can see it.
Q: Are you personally involved in negotiations? Do you sit down with agents in free agency, whether it be Saquon’s or somebody else’s?
A: Yeah, it's a collective effort. That’s one thing that I appreciate from Joe, it's an all-hands-on approach and it’s solution based. There’s a pecking order on how we’d like to get things done, but that’s the beauty of being collaborative.
Q: You were with the Eagles obviously longer than you’ve been here. What did you take from their run and how they built it? You know a lot about that organization.
A: We’re building. We’re not satisfied, but we're building. I think part of that is continuing to be collaborative and exhausting all our resources, especially when it comes down to data. Not just having data that's available but having actionable data and using it to make decisions. So, I think learning how to use all our resources, having proper checks and balances, that’s something I’ve taken over from Philly. Obviously, Joe's had a certain degree of that from his time in Buffalo coming over, and we're going to use Ryan’s experience in Tennessee as an example as well. I think that's what I love about what Joe's done, employed a diversity of thought. I think when you have diversity of thought, that's when you’re able to make your best decisions.
Q: You talk about collaboration a lot. How hard is it from your perspective to balance between what the coach may want for his system to what you may feel like, ‘Okay, I want this type, but he wants this type?’ How much of that inner fight happens with you and the coaching staff?
A: What’s nice is we watch a lot of tape together. You go through the draft process, the things that aren’t universally agreed on, there's a respect which is the baseline of all our communication. When you’re respecting the foundation, and you know what the principles are of our offense, of our defense, we watch it together and say, ‘Hey, what are the points of disagreement, and how do we find a compromise?’ And then it's based on us, on the personnel department, to find the proper value of where you take this player, whether it's giving up resources via trade, your currency in the draft, etcetera.
Q: What’s fair to expect from this rookie class and in particular, can cornerbacks, (cornerback) Deonte (Banks) was obviously your No. 1 pick, in this day and age become good faster because of the way the college game has changed?
A: I don't want to put a benchmark or a label on what the degree of success is going to be for this class, but we're excited for them. If you look at what we've brought in, you guys have been around them a good amount, it's a mature group. They fit our smart, tough, dependable mantra. These are guys that if you look all across the board from whether it's first-round pick, down to undrafted free agent, to late-round picks, they're explosive. They're fast. They're physical. They have traits, banking on the traits that play on Sunday. It’s our job, collaborating with the coaching staff, to get them up to speed from a technique standpoint.
Q: You had a front-row seat to the extensions for (quarterback) Daniel Jones and (defensive lineman) Dexter Lawrence (II). What did you learn in that process and what surprised you?
A: I just think the biggest thing learning is being patient. Being patient, being open to listen, not being stubborn and understanding what the market is. The market surplus scarcity, it dictates a lot of things and how you make decisions. Also, being able to agree to disagree at times, and being able to get back to the table. That’s really the biggest thing learning, knowing that things don’t just happen overnight.
Q: Your first year on the job, what have you learned about yourself and how has it changed your approach to this position?
A: I learned time doesn't belong to me. Time belongs to the staff. Why I say that is, I kind of look at everything through the lens of people, process, and culture. People, on the day-to-day, I figure out, how can we maximize everyone who's on this roster? Process is, how do we improve and get better, whether it's employing new ideas? Culture, how do we put forth things that are going to be what we want to be, whether it's in the building, whether it's on the field, or in the community? Those three layers.
I say time doesn’t belong to myself; after 8 a.m., you don't know what's going to happen, right? So, it's really pre-8 a.m. It's what you have to yourself, whether you want to watch film, or there are certain things on your agenda. Call it post-8 a.m., post-7 p.m., that's where you get back to doing things for yourself. I think no day is the same, where in between that 8-to-8 window, you’ve got to be ready for curveballs. You’ve got to adjust.
Q: What’s your typical routine before 8 a.m. given that?
A: I try to beat Joe into the gym in the morning, but he’s usually in a full sweat by the time I get there. So, it’s usually a workout in the morning. It’s nice, we’ve got a good contingent inside there where I don’t think it’s by mistake that it plays into how close we are between myself, Joe, Dennis Hickey, Tim McDonnell. We’re all in there early.
I try to tell the players—I jokingly say, ‘I can’t expect you to do the work if I’m not going to do it myself.’ So, I think it’s one of those things that allows us to have a kind of unplanned connection point because the players are in there early. You see Daniel Jones, Haddy (linebacker Jihad Ward), (quarterback) Tyrod Taylor, guys that are opening the opening the gym. It’s a nice little connection point and also a bonding moment for us.
Q: Did you guys do anything in the offseason to combat the thing, ‘Well, we came in last year, we made the playoffs, this year is not guaranteed?’
A: Yeah, I think we looked at what our pain points were. We wanted to get better against the run, and you’ve seen what we did in terms of adding Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) and (defensive lineman) A’Shawn (Robinson) and getting (linebacker) Bobby O(kereke) in free agency, adding (safety) Bobby McCain as a vet in the secondary. Those things are not being satisfied. It's being reflective, looking in the mirror, being honest with each other and saying, ‘Hey, how do we give the coaches the best opportunity to put the best product in the field?’
Q: I know you had a chance during the college season to be on the ground a little bit and do some scouting. I had heard you were down in Maryland at one point when Banks popped off one game and really jumped off the film. What was your call like or what did you report back to Joe that day that you kind of took notice of Deonte?
A: I’d probably say in a vacuum, I just loved our process with Deonte. It’s not just me; don’t just give me credit for that. I like to say our area scout (Marquis Pendleton), I mean, if you go back to September, Deonte wasn't somebody that was on the radar. We had an area scout who watched him early and liked him. Actually, Joe got a chance to go see him live in person. Tim, Dennis, they both watched him. Then I go live and go see him play against Ohio State. I see him get beat by (wide receiver) Marvin Harrison Jr. the first play of the game and then line right back up and play relentless with effort the rest of the game. Then he ends the game and blocks a kick. I just think his competitiveness is something that you covet in our system, especially playing a lot of man.
And then you fast forward, we have a touch point with him at the Combine, Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) hits it off with him, and then we go down the road down to Pro Day. Myself and (special assistant to the general manager) Jessie Armstead have dinner with him pre-Pro Day, (defensive backs coach) Jerome (Henderson) spends time with him, we bring him up at a 30 visit. That's a collaborative approach. Our sports scientists get to spend time with him, analytics department makes sure he checks out and looks great in all our models, player development spends time with him when he's in the building. So, to me that's what you want the full collaborative approach from all departments to look like.
Q: You guys had to have had a vision when you traded for Waller, right?
Q: Without asking the complete softball, but from observations and watching the practices, has he exceeded in terms of, when you look at your team on the practice field, he literally and figuratively stands out on a very regular basis. What did you really get when you traded for him, do you guys think?
A: Well, I mean, we did our due diligence. We did our research. We know from the fringe red zone, red zone, being a mismatch piece, he is someone that you call the problem creator. You look at what he can do in terms of opening up the field for the rest of our guys, whether it's adding (wide receiver) Parris Campbell, adding (wide receiver Darius) Slayton in terms of bringing him back, what he can do from separating, I call it stretching a defense, whether it's vertically and laterally. He adds to that. He’s going to open up the field, and we get (wide receiver) Wan’Dale (Robinson) back and add those pieces in the slot, (wide receiver Sterling) Shep(ard) back. I think it's one of those things where he's a force multiplier, right? He just doesn't make himself or our offense better, but he makes other players better, and he's going to help set us up that way.
Q: Regarding Saquon, you said that in that kind of situation, normally, you can separate the personal from the business side; they’re two different things. But what happens if the player feels like it's personal or feels like trust is broken. From a front office standpoint, how do you repair that or get back to the business side?
A: Yeah, I think it's one of those things where you look at the foundation of your relationship. Our foundation of our relationship with Saquon is one of not just trust, but honesty. It’s no different than being in a family. Family is going to disagree at some point, but one thing is you know at the crux of your relationship is the fact that there's love there. I think Saquon knows how we feel about him. I think whether it's said openly or behind closed doors, we've had multiple conversations with him where there's things we agree on, things that we disagree on, but at the end of the day, he knows how we feel about him. That’s something that’s not going to change.
Q: Have you talked to him since Sunday or his people?
A: I haven’t, but at the same time, like I said, we’re going to keep those conversations close to the vest. Like I said, I want to handle that in-house and same thing with Joe and Dabs. But he knows how we feel about him. That’s not changing.
Q: The market at that position has become so depressed. Every other position is going up, but the running back position is going down, probably.
A: I don't wholeheartedly agree with that, that every position is going up. I mean, you look at what's happened in the safety market. You see guys that have signed big contracts in the last round of deals with the safety market getting released. I think look at some of the linebackers that thought they were going to get more money, but it wasn't there, and they have to wait it out. I just think precedent sets the market. That’s something that we don't control. We don’t. What we do is, we try to forecast and react. So, that's what we've done. The market is the market, but I think precedent dictates where it sits.
Q: Scouting is like recruiting: you’ve got to kind of do it every day. It was good to see some of the guys you brought in last year on the back end go to the USFL and go to the XFL and have success. How beneficial is it for you guys to see some of those guys you brought in have that success, and how important are those alternate leagues to kind of help you guys do a better job of acquiring pro-ready talent?
A: I think when you look at those other leagues, it provides opportunity for reps and constructive reps. Guys that you see flash at times in practice, you don't see them in call it high-volatile situations where they have to adjust a sudden change. I think you're getting a bigger picture and sample size of them in these alternative leagues. It’s better for the league in general. I think the fact that we've had guys that have done well shows that we're identifying the right traits. As they develop, there's opportunity to circle back on them. Maybe there's a deficiency that becomes a strength or an area that is now functional on a 53-man roster or a 90-man roster. That's why those alternative leagues, they have value. It may not be a guy that's going to be frontline starter, but maybe an eventual depth guy. So, I think those are things that we're always going to unturn every stone and see if there's any value for us in any of those supplemental leagues.