There’s rarely a good time to be arrested, but Kyle Lauletta picked a particularly awful moment during the Giants' season to run afoul of the law. New York’s rookie quarterback, thought to be a possible replacement for the struggling Eli Manning, was alleged Tuesday to have nearly run over a cop with his car, and he was charged with several offenses.
Police in Weehawken, N.J., said that Lauletta was directed by an officer to continue to move straight ahead in his 2017 Jaguar, rather than make a right turn from the wrong lane amid renovations near the Lincoln Tunnel. Lauletta was said to have disregarded the instruction and to have almost struck the officer as he made the turn, then to have refused to produce identification or exit the vehicle when he was pulled over by another officer.
Police said that Lauletta, 22, was arrested and charged with eluding police, obstructing administration of law and resisting arrest, which were categorized as disorderly persons offenses, as well as with reckless driving, disregarding an officer’s directions, improper turn and failure to remain in a marked lane. He was also said to have committed the same illegal turn the day before, with a summons mailed to him after he left the scene in his vehicle.
Lauletta was released on his own recognizance, with a court date yet to be made public. He was not available Tuesday for comment.
In a statement, Giants Coach Pat Shurmur said he and his staff were “were made aware of the situation this morning” and “have been in contact” with Lauletta, adding, “We are still in the process of gathering information. This is obviously very disappointing.”
Shurmur offered stronger commentary during his weekly appearance on a New York sports-radio station, saying (via the New York Post), “This is not going to be taken lightly.” Indicating that a suspension was possible for Lauletta, Shurmur called the incident “disturbing” and asserted that there would be “consequences for this type of behavior.”
In a remark that could be ominous for Lauletta’s tenure in New York, Shurmur told the station, “There’s elements in the building of, ‘Okay, what does the future look like?’ We think of those things.”
The news on Lauletta arrived just as the Giants were heading into their bye week with a 1-7 record and plenty of reason to ponder what they might try to change for the seasons’s second half. “We’re looking at all areas to improve,” Shurmur said Monday, and when asked whether Manning would still be the team’s starting quarterback when it returns to action in Week 10, the coach replied, “We’ll see. But, yeah, I think Eli is our quarterback.”
At 37 and in his 15th NFL season, Manning has looked very much like a quarterback nearing the end of his career. He has managed a high completion percentage but has had great difficulty generating points, even with a receiving corps that includes the talented likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, in addition to a very impressive rookie running back in Saquon Barkley.
With the Giants going nowhere for a second straight season, more than a few observers have opined that the team might use its layoff to demote Manning. Given that the only other quarterback on the depth chart is Alex Tanney, a journeyman soon to turn 31 who has very limited on-field experience, the obvious choice to possibly take the reins appeared to be Lauletta, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Richmond.
“I think you always want to make sure, when you replace somebody, you replace him with guys who can do that job,” Shurmur said Monday. “I think you always consider that, because the team counts on the fact we’re gonna play the best people at all positions.”
However, Lauletta, having been arrested Tuesday morning while presumably trying to get to the Giants' facility in East Rutherford, N.J., was reportedly not a participant in practice that day. Shurmur said on the radio that the quarterback was “back here at the office,” but he missed what could have been a golden opportunity to give the team confidence in his potential as a starter.
Instead, Lauletta has apparently given the Giants reason to consider whether he has any future at all with the team. Rather than spark some hope for a turnaround this season, he has, with his arrest, only served to add to the list of things that have gone very wrong for Big Blue.
The Giants were already being second-guessed from the moment they took Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, because in doing so, they passed up an opportunity to address Manning’s decline by selecting a highly touted college quarterback such as Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Josh Rosen. In Lauletta, the team did get a prospect who some viewed as having promise for eventual NFL success, and Barkley tried to show support for his teammate Tuesday, even while expressing surprise at the turn of events.
“I know Kyle really well, and it definitely was shocking,” the running back said. “I don’t know too much about it to speak on it, to be honest, but yeah, I know it’s really nothing. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s probably nothing crazy because of the kind of person he is.”
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