The 2018 New York Giants season is, by all accounts, an epic disaster. The offensive line, though better than it was last year, is still a weak link and now Eli Manning has completely fallen flat as he is no longer on the back nine of his career, he is on the green of the 18th hole. Because of this, there is now speculation about the Giants trading for a quarterback, including trading Manning to the Jaguars (which was rumored last year too), trading for Jacoby Brissett, trading for Derek Carr (in 2019) or signing Colin Kaepernick. All of these moves, however, should be avoided.
While there is the obvious Tom Coughlin connection for Manning in Jacksonville, as this point of his career, Blake Bortles is playing well enough that Manning would not be an upgrade. Plus, like the Giants, Jacksonville has a poor offensive line and are down to their third left tackle. Jacksonville also signed Ereck Flowers last week and I would like to believe Manning deserves a better fate than to be reunited with the offensive tackle who has given Manning PTSD. Finally, Manning has a no-trade clause, so he would have to approve the trade anyway. Given that he and his family have lived in North Jersey since he was drafted and he has already stated that he wants to remain in New York, it’s a hard sell to see him agree to going to North Florida midseason.
Jacoby Brissett, on the other hand, started for Indianapolis last season while Andrew Luck was out and struggled when he was under pressure. With a clean pocket, Brissett had a passer rating of 91.6, but that number dropped to 60.5 when he was under pressure as he took 52 sacks on the year. With the Giants offensive line in it’s current shape, Brissett would be under constant pressure as he was for the Colts last season. On the surface, his numbers looked good, but most of his production came in the short game as he struggled with intermediate and long throws. Additionally, Brissett was inconsistent and his ceiling in the NFL is more or less a backup in the NFL.
Jon Gruden has doused everything about the Oakland Raiders in kerosene and is lighting the match. Khalil Mack is gone, Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, their first round draft picks from 2015-17, are on the trading block and Carr could be next as the two seemed to be at odds from the moment Gruden was hired. It certainly hasn’t helped that Gruden isn’t afraid to call out his players to the media. Carr has shown flashes of potential, but 2017 was a disappointing season from him and he currently leads the league in interceptions. Further complicating matters is his contract, as he will will account for $22.5 million against the Giants salary cap, something the Giants simply can’t afford. Yes, part of his salary would be balanced by releasing Manning, but adding Carr’s cap hit would give the Giants just $18.1 million in cap space as opposed to $38.4 million they would have by releasing Manning and not acquiring Carr. New York will needs to make additions to the team in free agency as well as extend star safety Landon Collins in the near future, so they will need as much cap space as they can get.
Regardless of your stance on Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem, this is a player who is now more than a year removed from NFL action and the longer you’re away from the game, the harder it is to return. Despite a stellar 16-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio in 2016, he graded out poorly by Pro Football Focus’ metrics, specifically how often he takes sacks, his low yards per attempt and his lack of a deep ball. Plus, he will be a polarizing signing because of the national anthem and it’s hard to imagine the Giants wanting this dominating the backpages in the media capital of the world.
More importantly, however, is that all of these moves are short-term fixes. The Giants are 1-5. Their season is over. Since 1970, only two teams have began the year 1-5 and made the playoffs, the 1970 Bengals and the 2015 Chiefs. Just two teams out of 223, or 0.89 percent. At this point, the Giants are better off seeing what they currently have on their roster. Kyle Lauletta was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft last April and should see the field following the team’s Week 9 bye. With Manning’s start streak broken last year, there is no longer something to preserve and general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur need to see what they have on their roster as they head into a crucial offseason.
New York will also likely hold a high pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, putting them in a similar position as they were last April to be able to find the heir to Manning’s throne, specifically Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Adding Herbert (or, if they fall out of his reach, Missouri’s Drew Lock) gives the Giants a long-term answer at quarterback and falls in line with a similar model that has been deployed by the Seahawks, Eagles and Rams during the new CBA: draft a quarterback and build around him while he is still on a team-friendly deal. New York is also ahead of the curve when it comes to having weapons for their new quarterback. Saquon Barkley has looked as good as advertised, Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the NFL’s truly elite wide receivers and Evan Engram can be a match up nightmare at tight end, but he still must improve as a blocker and stop dropping the ball.
So, for now, I ask Giants fans to be patient. Yes, this is a brutal stretch and losing it not something you’re used to (if you were, you’d be a Jets fan), but the worst thing a team can do is make a panic move in what is already a lost season. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, focus on the future, not the present.