The New York Giants are coming off a 3-13 season, and as a result, they have the No. 2 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. Given the contours of the roster and the age of the Giants' longtime starting quarterback (37-year old Eli Manning), it's been a common assumption that they'll look for Manning's successor in the draft -- perhaps as early as No. 2.
According to new general manager Dave Gettleman, however, there are no guarantees that he goes in that direction.
"With the second pick, we're going to take the best player available," Gettleman said, per the team's official website. "If you take a guy just to take a guy especially at the quarterback position -- and he fails -- you set yourself back five years. There are teams in what I call quarterback hell. They got a quality defense, good special teams and they're going 7-9, 8-8, 9-7. ... Now if there is a legitimate [quarterback in the draft], they got to trade up [and] give away the farm to get the guy."
The Giants defense regressed nearly as much as the offense in 2017, but the talent is certainly there for it to be among the top units in football, as we saw during the 2016 season. A team with a top defense needs merely competent quarterback play to make the playoffs and potentially make some noise while there, as we saw this season with teams like the Jaguars and Vikings, who made it to their respective conference championship games.
So maybe it should not come as a surprise that Gettleman is potentially more interested than the previous regime in retaining Manning for the 2018 season.
"I had an opportunity to watch [Manning's film] because the quarterback is the most important position on the team," Gettleman said. "At the end of the day, it wasn't a mirage. It was not a mirage."
The Giants could save $9.8 million against the cap by releasing Manning prior to June 1 and $16 million by doing so after that date, but they'd then be left in the breeze at the league's most important position. There's nothing preventing them from taking a quarterback at No. 2 and then having him apprentice behind Manning for a year or two while he gets ready to take over. That might actually be the most appealing option because it would allow the Giants to straddle two eras at once, and eventually get out of Manning's deal with fewer cap headaches than if they cut ties with him this offseason.