Dave Gettleman hire spotlights Giants' O-line, bond with Steve Wilks

Who will Gettleman seek out as Giants head coach? (1:07)

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dave Gettleman is a familiar name for the New York Giants in an unfamiliar role. Before going to the Carolina Panthers as their general manager, he was a well regarded pro personnel executive with Big Blue.

Once a Giant always a Giant, they say. At least it appears to hold true if you're not a player near the bottom of the team's roster.

Gettleman is back in New York with a bigger and more expansive role. He is the Giants' general manager after a search that wasn't exactly as wide ranging as expected after co-owner John Mara called for "wholesale changes" when he fired coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese earlier this month.

What can be expected upon Gettleman's arrival is an emphasis on the offensive and defensive lines.

"Tom Coughlin taught me a great thing," Gettleman said for a 2016 story. "Big men allow you to compete. If you don't have big men, you can't compete."

His first two draft picks were defensive tackles. He landed two offensive line starters the following year.

With the Giants, expect Gettleman to focus immediately on the offensive line, which doesn't have a single prominent piece that should be part of their future under contract for next season. Guards Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker and centers Weston Richburg and Brett Jones (restricted) are all free agents at the end of the season. Gettleman should be busy in the draft and free agency reshaping an offensive line that all of a sudden seems more likely to be blocking once again for quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning, who was part of two Super Bowl teams with Gettleman as an executive, has two years remaining on his current contract.

The new coach could have a significant say in that decision. Many in league circles believe, with Gettleman as general manager, the road leads to Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Wilks, 48, was the Panthers' secondary coach and assistant head coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator earlier this year. His blitz-happy ways have helped the Panthers field a top-10 defense.

Wilks and Gettleman are known to have a strong relationship. In the NFL, these connections and relationships matter more than most. Gettleman had a strong relationship with the Giants organization and his former boss Ernie Accorsi, who served as a consultant in the GM search. It led to him landing the job before candidates from other teams were even brought into the mix.

It is hard to knock Gettleman. He was respected in his previous life with the organization -- it helped him land the Panthers job -- then built a Super Bowl team in Carolina while doing reasonably well in the draft.

Gettleman is known to be a no-nonsense kind of guy. He exiled cornerback Josh Norman before things got sticky in Carolina. He played hardball in negotiations with some of the team's most respected and notable players.

With the Giants, this could lead to a housecleaning in a locker room that has proven dysfunctional. They suspended three cornerbacks -- most recently Eli Apple -- this season alone.

Gettleman isn't likely to be shy with his evaluations or tepid with his moves. He's also likely to keep many of the executives and scouts he has known for years. The Giants have one of the most stable front offices in all of sports.

If a complaint can be had with the hire, it is in their process. They interviewed two in-house candidates (interim GM Kevin Abrams and vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross), one former longtime employee (Gettleman), and one outsider (ESPN analyst Louis Riddick) who has worked in front office for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.

With this franchise it always seems to go back to what they're familiar with rather than stripping their building to its core (see: Tom Coughlin's firing in 2016). Gettleman spent a good chunk of his professional life with the Giants. Now he's back.

It should at the very least lead to the Giants fielding a better offensive line than they have put on the field the past few seasons, regardless of the coach.