Best-Case Quarterback Options for New York Giants in 2018
The NFC East has fielded 35 quarterbacks since Eli Manning took over the offense for the New York Giants on Nov. 21, 2004.
Manning was a model of consistency who strung together an iron man streak of 210 consecutive starts before former head coach Ben McAdoo's cockamamie plan to bench him. The Giants are set to enter the 2018 offseason with a swirl of question marks, starting with the identity of their signal-caller.
The Giants will have options for sure. Let's look at what some of those options are and how realistic they might be.
Keep Eli Manning
Keeping Eli Manning as the starting quarterback is probably the direction the team will go for several reasons.
First, the modified West Coast offense under McAdoo was never really an ideal fit for a non-mobile quarterback like Manning who is unable to extend plays with is legs. Manning's strength has always been throwing down the field, which he hasn't been able to do given the poor showing by the offensive line so badly neglected by now former general manager Jerry Reese.
If the Giants can fix their offensive line, get Manning another deep-threat receiver and develop a running game that actually scares people, the offense's fortunes could change.
The other reason why the Giants will likely keep Manning is salary cap-related. Per Over The Cap, Manning would carry a $12.4 million dead cap if the Giants cut him. If they are going to terminate his contract, it would make more sense to do so after 2018, when the cap savings and dead money are more favorable.
Start Davis Webb
Everyone from Giants fans to beat writers and television analysts have begun beating the drum for rookie Davis Webb to get some significant playing time.
So far, however, the coaches have stuck to their guns with bringing Webb along slowly. His reps have been limited to practice, where just last week interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo revealed the rookie took about a dozen reps running the first-team offense against the defensive starters.
But here is the problem with crying out for Webb, the team's third-round pick, to get game reps this year ahead of starting next season: If Eli Manning can't get this offense going—the poor run-blocking, inconsistent pass protection and the dropped balls are not Manning's fault—how is Webb going to benefit?
If the next regime believes Webb is their guy, a scenario similar to what happened when Manning was a rookie could happen.
In 2004, Kurt Warner, who went on to earn Hall of Fame honors, kept the seat warm until the newly revamped offensive line and receivers started to come together to where it made sense to put Manning, then a rookie, into the lineup.
Might they do the same with Webb? My best guess is they'll move him to No. 2 and ride with Manning and his $22.2 million 2018 cap figure before finally moving on from him the following year.
Pursue Kirk Cousins in Free Agency to Be the New Starter
After failing to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal this year, Washington will try again before he hits free agency.
If it can't reach an agreement with Cousins and doesn't slap the franchise tag on him again, Cousins is sure to have suitors. Might the Giants be one of them?
The odds are slim, but the benefits for the Giants pursuing this avenue would be two-fold.
First, they'd be getting a younger and more mobile quarterback. More importantly, they'd be weakening a division opponent which, as of the end of Week 16, is slotted to draft around 15.
Of course, if the Giants were to pursue Cousins, they'd have to part with Manning. That would save them $9.8 million against the cap, but that $12.4 million in dead money would stand unless Manning was designated a post-June 1 cut.
If that were to happen, they'd save $16 million with just a $6.2 million cap hit.
Pursue Sam Bradford in Free Agency as a Cheaper Placeholder
Bradford is coming off left knee surgery, so he would presumably be healthy for his next team. He could also serve as a cheaper placeholder for the Giants until Davis Webb or a draft pick is ready to step in.
This year, Bradford only accounted for $18 million against the Vikings' cap, per Over The Cap. It's hard to imagine he'd get a megadeal coming off his injury-shortened season and approaching 31st birthday.
Still, if the Giants want an experienced quarterback but not have to pay a premium for it while they get a draft pick ready, Bradford might make some sense.
Draft a Quarterback
It's not often the Giants find themselves in the top five draft spots; currently they're holding on to the No. 2 pick overall. And when you're that high in the draft and in need of your next franchise quarterback, it's probably a good idea to take advantage and get one.
UCLA's Josh Rosen could be an intriguing selection if he declares for the draft. The problem is that ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that Rosen is reluctant to declare for the draft because he doesn't want to go to the Cleveland Browns, who have locked up the No. 1 draft pick for next spring's draft.
If Rosen backs out, USC's Sam Darnold is a blue-chip prospect whom Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports believes would endear himself to New York fans with his "hard-nosed playing style."
A third quarterback prospect, who has already declared his intentions to enter the draft, is Wyoming's Josh Allen. However, the early scouting reports on Allen seem to indicate that he's not going to be ready to play from day one, which is what you would probably want from a No. 2 overall draft pick.
Walter Football, for instance, noted Allen "needs to improve his fundamentals" but also had sources compare Allen's skill set to that of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Todd McShay of ESPN noted in an analysis written last month that Allen dropped from being his third-ranked prospect to No. 6.
And what about Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma? If the Giants are looking to re-establish the deep passing game, Mayfield might be intriguing enough given his downfield accuracy.
The biggest question the Giants' new brass will have to answer is whether Davis Webb is their future or if one of these up-and-coming youngsters has more upside for the longer term.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.