But there is a major choice to be made by the Giants’ new football decision-makers, General Manager Dave Gettleman and Coach Pat Shurmur, and they should have some good options. The Giants could help Manning and the offense by selecting the draft’s most dynamic runner, Penn State tailback Saquon Barkley. Or the Giants could opt to trade the pick, perhaps to the quarterback-needy Buffalo Bills.
The trade option could be particularly tempting now, and the Giants might end up thanking the New York Jets for that. Last weekend, the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3 in the first round, presumably to land a would-be franchise quarterback. To accomplish that, they sent a trio of second-round picks, including two this year and one next year, to the Indianapolis Colts, in addition to the sixth overall choice. That king’s ransom of draft picks surrendered by the Jets to move up three spots presumably has raised the going rate for the Giants’ No. 2 overall selection accordingly.
The Bills would be the most logical trade partner for the Giants. Their quarterback situation remains uncertain after they traded Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, then signed AJ McCarron as a free agent. The Bills, after the Taylor trade, possess five of the draft’s top 65 picks, including the 12th and 22nd overall selections. They have plenty that they could offer if they want to move into position to get a quarterback from among USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Much could depend on how Gettleman and Shurmur feel about Davis Webb, the quarterback taken by the Giants’ previous regime in the third round of the 2017 draft. For now, he is the team’s future at the position behind Manning, the two-time Super Bowl winner whose one-game benching by former coach Ben McAdoo last season created such a furor.
Manning is 37, and his NFL career clearly is winding down. He is coming off a 2017 season in which he struggled to 19 touchdown passes, 13 interceptions and a passer rating of 80.4 while the Giants, coming off a playoff season, tumbled to a record of 3-13 that cost McAdoo and Jerry Reese, the franchise’s longtime GM, their jobs. If Gettleman and Shurmur don’t believe that Webb is the long-term answer, don’t the Giants need to act now while they have the chance?
It is a delicate balancing act between the franchise’s short-term on-field needs and long-term best interests. Barkley, if he’s available, could be a difference-maker as the Giants attempt to make a quick return to respectability and perhaps even reclaim contender status while Manning’s career winds down. But this is a highly regarded draft class of quarterbacks. If the Giants don’t get Manning’s heir apparent now, then when?
Rosen, in particular, looks like a quarterback who would fit in perfectly. He has a calm demeanor that is reminiscent of Manning’s and he said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he would have no problem beginning his NFL career as a backup if that’s what he’s asked to do.
“A lot of questions I actually get from teams are basically like, ‘What’s your goal at the end of Year 1? What are you trying to accomplish?’ ” Rosen said. “And I’d say my answer to that is to have my coach completely satisfied with what I’ve done. Whatever he asks me to do, I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.
“If he asks me to be a backup, I’m going to be the country’s best backup quarterback. I’m going to support my starter through everything. It might be a rough relationship at the start, at the beginning, because you see the dynamic. But I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to help the team win. If he asks me to compete for the starting job, I’m going to compete my butt off. So I think whatever the coach asks me to do, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Get the quarterback of the future or do something that will help immediately?
It is the decision that will define the early stages of the effort by Gettleman and Shurmur to get the Giants back to where they want to be.