Four areas the New York Jets must still address in April

New York Jets, Joe Douglas

The New York Jets undoubtedly improved this offseason, but there are several areas of need to address as the calendar flips to April.

The New York Jets undoubtedly became a better team this offseason. Whether that’s a result of the Adam Gase era giving them nowhere to go but up or it leads to actual results on the field remains to be seen, but the Jets have laid down a solid foundation for the Robert Saleh era. Optimism reigns for an already star-crossed franchise coming off a two-win season through the signings of names like Tevin Coleman, Corey Davis, and Carl Lawson.

“There’s a lot of optimism, especially coming off a bad season, so I’m looking forward to working. I love the process,” Lawson said in video provided by the Jets. He compared the situation to franchise mode on the Madden NFL video game franchise. “I play Madden because I love building teams. I love franchise mode. Franchise mode hasn’t changed on Madden in like 15 years, but I’m never going to stop loving it because I get to build, I get to grow, I get to improve.”

Yet, as the calendar flips to April and the free agency frenzy mostly pacified, the Jets have several areas of need that have yet to be satisfied. Competing in the crowded AFC will probably be difficult with even the perfect offseason, but the Saleh era can get off to an optimally smooth start if the following areas are satisfied, preferably sooner rather than later…

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

Offensive Line

Solving the offensive line issues was probably at the top of the Jets’ offseason to-do list, the necessity even outweighing the quarterback quandary. No matter who’s throwing the ball, he’s going to need protection.

Joe Douglas has shown he’s willing to make up for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. His drafting of Mekhi Becton was a strong start, but his free agency signings failed to pan out. Several are set to return for another season, but the Jets missed out on the big targets (Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler), adding only interior man Dan Feeney from the Los Angeles Chargers. Another addition, tight end Tyler Kroft, has gained positive reviews for his blocking, but nothing that should dramatically change the Jets’ protection affairs.

An interesting gambit for the Jets would be to draft top blocking prospect Penei Sewell with the second overall choice and letting Sam Darnold work behind a revamped line, but the Jets’ due diligence at incoming rookie passing class hints that they’re headed toward that direction. But at least one of their early picks, namely the 23rd and 34th overall selections, should be used on a blocker if only to raise the heat on some of the incumbents. Veteran help from abroad, like Kansas City’s Austin Reiter, should also be considered. Reiter, set to turn 30 in November, was the Chiefs’ starting center in each of the last two Super Bowls.

New York Jets, Bless Austin
New York Jets, Bless Austin

Cornerback

After the spending frenzy in March, the Jets appear to have a plan in place when it comes to their safeties. Marcus Maye was granted the franchise tag, which basically serves as a $10 million “prove it” deal. On the strong side, the post-Jamal Adams era continues. Ashtyn Davis will get a de facto second rookie season after injuries marred his original and the Jets have brought in a strong mentor and veteran prescience in LaMarcus Joyner to help out. Elsewhere on defense, front seven newcomers Lawson and Jarrad Davis have experiences in the 4-3 scheme that Robert Saleh is reportedly hoping to implement.

But the cornerback depth is definitely concerning. Youngsters Bless Austin and Bryce Hall have shown flashes of brilliance in their infantile NFL careers, but they’ll probably need further development before fully embracing the starting roles. Newly signed Justin Hardee is listed as a corner but primarily works on special teams. The Jets also have a decision to make on one of their free agents, Brian Poole.

The 23rd pick, obtained from Seattle for Adams, can potentially be used on the top cornerbacks on the draft, namely Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain, or Jaycee Horn.

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, James Morgan

Backup Quarterback

The Jets have not had a quarterback start every game in a season since Ryan Fitzpatrick went all 16 in 2015. If Darnold stays, the Jets should be ready for the unthinkable again, as he has yet to play a full NFL season. Should the rookie arrive, some see Darnold as a safety blanket. But if Zach Wilson or Justin Fields make their entrance, Darnold still shouldn’t stay. There doesn’t need to be a quarterback controversy and the USC alum isn’t at the “veteran mentor” stage.

When Darnold got hurt last season, the Philadelphia-bound Joe Flacco did a serviceable job in relief. But with the Super Bowl XLVII MVP donning a new shade of green, they need to be prepared in case of an emergency. The draft can’t be an option, as the Jets have far too many needs to fill with their surplus and the fourth-round choice of James Morgan in last year’s proceedings remains puzzling. If they want a safety net that can win games, Saleh and Mike LaFleur’s Bay Area comrade Nick Mullens could be an option, while veteran mentors are available through Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, or Blake Bortles.

Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken (9) celebrates his field goal with teammates during the first half against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kicker

Since Pro Bowler Jason Myers absconded to Seattle, the Jets have gone through six different kickers over the last two seasons. When you’re a team like the Jets, a team that struggles to get into the end zone, you need a reliable kicker to ensure visits to opposing territory end with at least some points. There appears to be a competition in place between two of those names (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin), but the Jets need reliability and would be smart to showcase new talent.

The Jets haven’t used a draft pick on a kicker since Mike Nugent in the second round of the 2005 selections. There’s certainly no need to go that early this time around, but the selection of punter Braden Mann with their final pick last year shows the Jets won’t hesitate to address their special teams on draft weekend. Evan McPherson (Florida) and Jorge Borregales (Miami) are the top boots this time around.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Three ways the Carson Wentz trade affects the New York Jets

One green team’s move has ripple effects on another. Find out how things have changed for the New York Jets’ QB situation.

The NFL offseason offered an early bird special this week, as it appears a potential starting quarterback vacancy has been filled.

The Philadelphia Eagles dealt beleaguered franchise man Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts on late Thursday morning. Indianapolis, fresh off a brief appearance in January’s NFL postseason, is looking to fill a thrower’s void left behind by the retiring Phillip Rivers. A pair of second-day draft picks (a third in 2021 and a conditional second in 2022) are on their way to the City of Brotherly Love in return.

Fans in the metropolitan area no doubt wonder what this means for a certain green team…ok, maybe two, as Giants fans look toward a Wentz-free landscape for their biggest rival. But fans of the New York Jets, eager for clarity on their own franchise’s passing situation, will likely wonder what this means for their own man on the hot seat, Sam Darnold.

So how does this change things? ESM investigates…

One Trade Partner is Off The Market

A Jets-Colts trade during the offseason seemed to be a football certainty on par with Giants-Cowboys on Sunday night. It was, of course, a pre-draft deal that put Darnold on a New York path in 2018, and several veterans have made the switch from blue to green in recent seasons through both deals and free agency (i.e. Matthias Farley, Quincy Wilson, Pierre Desir).

Darnold potentially ending up in Indianapolis could’ve been on the table. The Colts have reasonably recovered from what could’ve been a disaster from a franchise-standpoint, the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. Indianapolis is also situated in a division that could well be up for grabs soon. Jacksonville’s rebuild is ongoing, nothing more needs to be written about the Texans, and the Colts tied with Tennessee for the division title.

With Rivers leaving, a serviceable quarterback option like Darnold in a much better situation could’ve made a strong union. It might’ve come at the sacrificing of draft picks, but with the AFC potentially up for grabs after Kansas City’s Super Bowl no-show, putting Darnold behind their strong line possibly could’ve helped earn a home playoff game. It appears, however, that the Colts will instead embark on that possibility with Wentz instead.

Darnold’s Trade Value Potentially Weakens

NFL history was forever altered on September 23, 2001, when the Jets’ Mo Lewis laid down a crushing hit on New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, leaving some unknown backup named Tom Brady to go into the game to finish things off. The Jets won that game and little else since, because that backup named Brady got it together pretty quickly.

It’s very much fair to wonder, likely on a smaller scale, to wonder what divergence was created in the NFL timeline on December 10, 2017, when Wentz, gunning for MVP honors during the Eagles’ magical Super Bowl run, tore an ACL in a win over the Rams. This is more or less a long way of saying the narrative that Wentz was a Philadelphia bust is ridiculously overblown. The 2020 season was brutal, but it’s Wentz’ only season that could objectively be called bad.

Nobody knows just how much the Adam Gase era stifled Darnold’s development. But, even without the Gase handicap, it’s safe to say Wentz has had a stronger and more impactful career than Darnold to date. So if his value is a pair of second day picks, the Jets probably shouldn’t keep their hopes high when it comes to Darnold, who has, like Wentz, had issues in playing a full 16-game season (unfair as injury-prone labels may be).

Part of the reason Wentz didn’t produce a high yield was the infamous contract extension the Eagles bestowed upon him after the 2018 season ($107 million guaranteed). But one can’t help but wonder if teams will be a little more reluctant to deal anything truly valuable when it comes to a hypothetical Darnold deal.

The Likelihood of Darnold Staying Might’ve Increased

This offseason is unique in that there could possibly be a dozen teams vying for a new starting quarterback. The Jets appear to be one and two more could also reside in their division (Miami and New England). So the Colts trading for Wentz isn’t the end of the world if they’re looking to truly deal Darnold.

But, a combination of one team off the board, one that is undoubtedly searching for a new quarterback, and teams perhaps being wary of trading high capital, the possibility of Darnold sticking around just raised ever so slightly.

Something that should be kept in mind as the Jets start to navigate through what could be a fateful offseason is that they’re anything but a “quarterback away” from mere postseason contention, much less the Super Bowl. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons Deshaun Watson hasn’t made his way over just yet. They have many, many areas to address, and while there’s a big offseason budget to work with, if they have a relative solution in Darnold, they could take care of other issues like the changes they need to make in their back seven, blocking, and weapons.

Time will tell exactly what the future holds for Darnold, but, for the time being, the Colts and Eagles’ bargain might’ve ensured, for now, that Jets fans need not ditch their No. 14 threads just yet.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Joe Flacco ACTIVE and set to serve as New York Jets’ backup

New York Jets, Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco’s first time in a New York Jets gameday uniform will come against one of his former teams on Thursday night.

While Thursday night’s primetime matchup between the New York Jets and Denver Broncos (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network) may lack that championship feeling, but Super Bowl flair will be on display on the home team’s sideline.

For the first time in his New York career, former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will dress for the Jets and serve as Sam Darnold’s backup. Flacco was sidelined by a neck injury for nearly a full year but was signed by the Jets in May.

A native of Audubon, NJ, Flacco is set to enter his 13th NFL season. Flacco is best known for his 11-year tenure with the Baltimore Ravens, where he sits atop nearly every statistical list in the team’s passing record book. He helped guide the Ravens to their second Super Bowl in 2013, capturing MVP honors in the team’s 34-31 win over San Francisco.

Making his Jets debut against Denver carries a hint of Flacco irony. After Baltimore made the switch to Lamar Jackson at quarterback, he was signed by the Broncos to serve as a placeholder quarterback to 2019 first-round choice Drew Lock. Flacco started eight games in orange, throwing for 1,822 yards and six touchdowns before sustaining the aforementioned neck injury in an October loss to Indianapolis. Denver released Flacco last March, sticking with Lock, Jeff Driskel, and Brett Rypien on their quarterback depth chart. Rypien is set to make his first NFL start on Thursday with Lock injured.

The Jets (0-3) will still be without top receiving option Breshard Perriman, who will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury. Others on the New York inactive list include Jordan Willis, Marqui Christian, Quincy Wilson, and Nathan Shepard, as well as rookies Ashtyn Davis and James Morgan.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NFL Draft: New York Jets take FIU QB James Morgan at No. 125

Formerly of Bowling Green and Florida International, James Morgan was the New York Jets’ second of six Saturday picks.

The New York Jets added to their quarterback room with their second of six picks of Saturday’s 2020 NFL Draft. With the 125th overall pick, the Jets chose James Morgan, an alum of both Bowling Green and Florida International.

Morgan tallied 8,645 passing yards and 65 touchdown passes over his four collegiate seasons with the Falcons and Golden Panthers. His banner year came with FIU in 2018, when he led Conference USA with a 157.6 passer rating and 8.4 yards per attempt.

Morgan also raised his draft stock by participating in the most recent East-West Shrine Game, where he threw a touchdown pass in his East squad’s victory at Tropicana Field.

Though Sam Darnold is still the presumptive starter, Morgan becomes the second thrower added this offseason. Former Dallas Cowboys draftee Mike White joined up in late December, while incumbent backup David Fales was re-signed.

The pick used to take Morgan was the first of two picks acquired from the New England Patriots in a trade enacted late Friday night. New England got back the 101st overall pick from the Jets and also sent over the 129th choice and a sixth-round pick for next season.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

For the New York Jets, Is Sam Darnold Really the Answer?

The New York Jets are finally starting to gel as a team this late in the season. After a 1-7 start, they have a chance to get close to .500 to finish the year (won’t be easy going through the Ravens, Bills, and Steelers [no matter how bad the Steelers may be, they are in the hunt for the Wild Card]). And with a second-year quarterback, things are finally looking up for Sam Darnold. Even after losing to the winless Bengals after losing to the winless Dolphins.

But is he really the solution for the Jets long term quarterback problem?

How does he compare to other Jets QB’s?

I’ve seen many Jets QB’s in my time watching the team. The earliest QB I remember is Vinny Testaverde. Then there was Chad Pennington, Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McGown, and now, Sam Darnold, with sprinklings of Bryce Petty, Kellen Clemens, Michael Vick, and Quincy Carter. That’s a lot of QB’s since 1998.

So let’s just focus on the starters, shall we?

Many disregard a QB’s win-loss totals, so let’s focus on the ratio that keeps a team in the season the longest; touchdowns to interceptions. Going into the team game against the Bengals, Darnold has 30 career touchdowns, to 25 interceptions. Where does he rank compared to the other starters? Here’s a breakdown of touchdowns to interceptions as the Jets QB, including their completion percentage and QBR.:

Vinny Testaverde: 77-58, 59%, N/A

Chad Pennington: 82-55, 65.6%, average 55.7 QBR over 2 seasons

Brett Favre: 22-22, 65.7%, 46.0

Mark Sanchez: 68-69, 55.1%, average 39.4 QBR over 4 seasons

Geno Smith: 28-36, 57.9%, average 42.4 QBR over 4 seasons

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 43-32, 58.3%, average 50.7 QBR over 2 seasons

Josh McCown: 19-13, 64.5%, average 44.7 QBR over 2 seasons

Sam Darnold: 30-25, 60.1%, average 46.7 QBR over 2 seasons

(pro-football-reference.com)

But What About that Win-Loss Total?

At the end of the day, it’s about leading your team to victory. Sam Darnold has been hit by the injury bug hard his two seasons in the NFL, but this will be the first time in my memory that a first-year Jets head coach won’t advance to a winning record. As hard as it is for Jets fans to admit, Mr. Butt Fumble, Mark Sanchez, has been the most successful QB for the Jets in my lifetime. You can’t argue back to back AFC Championship appearances. He’s also the winningest Jets QB in the playoffs, and the Jets were closer than people admit in playing Aaron Rodgers in Super Bowl XlV (45). 

Let’s look at the Jets records, shall we? The Jets were 33-29 with Sanchez as QB. The Jets are 8-20 with Darnold as QB. Mark Sanchez is the better QB for the Jets.

Should the Jets go for a QB in the Draft?

Yes. They absolutely should.

We all know what Carson Wentz is capable of as a QB, but he is injury prone. We may never know just what Wentz fully capable of after his ACL injury in the 2017 season. Darnold’s foot, and now mono… the Jets can’t be certain he’s going to be on the field with any regularity. Let the season play out, but get yourself a backup plan for 2020 and beyond.

New York Giants: Should Daniel Jones be in the Run for Starting QB Job?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have made it pretty clear they aren’t hosting a quarterback competition. Pat Shurmur has stated multiple times Eli Manning is the starting quarterback. He’s also shot down questions about a competition anytime he’s been asked. This would all be fine and dandy if Daniel Jones looked like your typical rookie quarterback, but he hasn’t.

Daniel Jones’ hot start to the preseason

Daniel Jones began his preseason with a stat line of 5/5 for 67 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. While some thought it was a rather fortunate start he looked just as good, if not better in the next game.

Here’s his stat line in week 2:

11/14 161 yards 1 touchdown

It’s fair to say he’s had his rookie growing pains with his fumbled snap and strip-sack but his passing numbers are nearly perfect. Through 2 weeks of the preseason, his passing total is 16/19 for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. 1 of his 3 incompletions was a clear drop by Scott Simonson.

He’s also connecting with his pass catchers on all levels of the field. The pass to Cody Latimer traveled over 35 yards down the field and was right on target. His two touchdown passes in the preseason were thrown directly into the end zone from 12 and 15 yards out. Most of his short passes have allowed his pass catchers to maintain their stride for yards after the catch. Pat Shurmur said this summer they haven’t seen ”anything he can’t do.”

While Pat Shurmur says the coaches are less surprised by Daniel Jones’ success than the outside world, he might’ve expected less immediate success for the rookie by shutting the door on a quarterback competition. This would explain why Daniel’s individual performance hasn’t even been a factor in the discussion thus far.

Remembering Daniel Jones’ scouting reports

As much as the team liked him throughout the draft process they should’ve known he was capable of such a hot start. Jones was considered one of the more ”NFL ready” quarterback prospects by many talent evaluators, while they didn’t exactly love his ”ceiling.”

This makes the likelihood of ”playing too early” very slim for Jones. Getting on the field too early has been counterproductive for some rookie quarterbacks at times but this has mostly been the case with prospects who came from ”Air-Raid” offenses. Daniel Jones’ offense under David Cutcliffe was considered more ”pro-style”, giving Jones a smoother transition than other quarterbacks.

No one should blame the team for considering Eli Manning the starter leading up to training camp. Once camp opened Daniel looked like less of a project and more of a promising young player. Then half the preseason came and went with Daniel looking nearly perfect as a passer in both games.

Two options at QB a “sweet deal”, maybe not?

There’s another layer to this situation that the coaches and front office would love to avoid. It’s the reason they parted with former New York Giants who had plenty of talent, it’s the distractions. Dave Gettleman has said time and time again it’s his job to “eliminate distractions.” The team would love to avoid being asked about Eli and Daniel constantly, but this will not end until the team moves on from Manning to let Jones get in the driver’s seat for this franchise. The team can say they are unbothered but this is the last major distraction left on the roster. Dave Gettleman has proven before he doesn’t mind taking care of them even when they’re “tough decisions” for the New York Giants. If the team feels Jones is ready to play before week 1, they could make the earth-shattering move before it becomes a routine topic of discussion every single week.

Final Thoughts

Based on how well he’s performed so far, it wouldn’t be crazy for Shurmur to give Jones an opportunity against the Bengals starting defense at some point on Thursday night. He’s arguably earned snaps against a first-team defense. Daniel Jones’ performances should begin to have a seat at the table in this decision of who starts at quarterback in 2019. 

Opinion: Why The New York Giants Should Take Kyler Murray No Questions Asked

Typically my writing is predominantly about the Yankees or Knicks, but today I’m wading into deep blue waters for one reason — KYLER MURRAY. This is a plea for Dave Gettleman to make the choice that will transform the New York Giants and avoid wasting the primes of Barkley and Beckham. I believe there are two sides of this argument, those that see Murray as the best player in the draft and those that are wrong.

I have spent most of the last decade of my life as a transplanted New Yorker living in Seattle. In that time I’ve watched a too short, deep ball tossing, third round pick totally change a teams culture. So many of the knocks on Murray mirror what was said about Russell Wilson, it’s like nobody learns from their mistakes.

I keep reading how Doug Flutie is the closest comp to Murray when Wilson is the same height and plays a similar style.

What makes Kyler Murray so special?

Murray has a big arm, good touch and accuracy on intermediate passes. He also makes good decisions and does not turn the ball over. Are these traits sounding familiar at all? Oh, and Murray took Oklahoma to the 4 team national championship playoff so along with the physical traits he’s also a winner.

The other contenders to be drafted if the Giants take a QB are Dwayne Haskins who led Ohio State to one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory, and Drew Lock who could maybe be Blake Bortles if he reaches his potential. Or the Giants could skip the middleman and just sign Bortles if/when Jacksonville releases him. He and Eli can have a competition in the spring and the Giants can start looking at QBs at the top of the 2020 draft.

If you add Murray and his ability to extend plays and take shots downfield to the Giants offense you have a nightmare for opposing defenses. What d-back can cover Beckham and Shepard for 6-seconds? And a linebacker or safety on Engram or Barkley? There will be big play opportunities all over the field, and if defenses don’t keep someone in to spy Murray he is perfectly capable of gouging them for huge gains with his legs.

Look at what Lamar Jackson did for the Ravens and none is still sure if he can even throw a forward pass consistently.

The wrong decision can set the Giants back a decade and kill the prime years of two of the most special talents the team has ever seen. Kyler Murray has every trait you would want in a QB other than height, and in the new NFL with spread offenses, RPO’s and quarterbacks being moved out of the pocket the height concern is overblown.

I mean he even has the same baseball background as Wilson and Mahomes, who credit some of their more creative tosses and flips to it. Not to mention the fact that unless the Giants plan on magically getting Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden their quarterback wont be spending much time in the pocket anyway. C’mon Dave, swing for the fences in April and bring the best quarterback in the draft to NY, draft Kyler Murray.

 

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert To Stay At School For Senior Year

With the 2018-2019 NFL regular season coming to a close this week, playoff-eliminated teams will be turning their attention towards the offseason. With the offseason comes the NFL Draft. In 2018, five quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the draft. With the second overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Giants selected running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley has proven to be a generational talent, but many fans still wish the Giants selected a quarterback.

With the Giants sitting at 5-10 with one game left this season, many fans have been looking ahead to this year’s draft. Fans have been especially interested in the possibility of the Giants selecting a quarterback this year, since they passed on one last year. Unfortunately, this year’s quarterback class is not not expected to provide nearly as much talent as last year’s.

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert Will Not Declare In 2019

One quarterback that Giants fans were looking forward to their team potentially drafting this season was Oregon’s junior quarterback Justin Herbert. It has been a rumor all season that Herbert will stay at Oregon for his senior year. On Wednesday, December 26, Justin Herbert confirmed that the rumors were true. He has decided to stay at Oregon for his senior year. Many draft analysts had Herbert going in the top ten of this year’s draft. Herbert has the prototypical NFL quarterback frame, standing tall at 6’6″ and weighing in at 234 pounds. This makes scouts love Herbert.

On top of his physical traits, scouts love Herbert’s on-field talent. This season, Herbert tallied 2,985 passing yards on a 59.5% completion percentage. Herbert also threw 28 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. He also added two rushing touchdowns on the season. Such great statistics will leave fans wondering why Herbert decided to stay in college one more year.

Why Justin Herbert Is Staying In School

Justin Herbert could have chosen to make millions of dollars in the NFL this season. On top of that, Herbert was considered by many to be the top quarterback prospect in this draft class. There is no guarantee that Herbert will even be a top three prospect in next year’s draft class.

Despite all of this, Justin Herbert has decided to stay at Oregon for his senior year. Justin Herbert is a Eugene, Washington native who grew up with a deep love of the University of Oregon. Since joining the Ducks, it has been Herbert’s mission to bring Oregon back to its winning ways. On top of his love for the school and unaccomplished college mission, Herbert has a brother committed to playing for the Ducks next season. Justin’s brother Patrick Herbert will be playing tight end for Oregon next year, and the two brothers look forward to playing together.

Who Should The Giants Scout Now?

Giants quarterback Eli Manning turns 38 years old in January. The 15 year veteran has seen a regression in play over the past few seasons. His decreasing play and his massive contract are two big reasons why the Giants might look to move on from Manning during the 2019 offseason. The Giants no longer have Justin Herbert as an option in the 2019 draft, but they do have a few other options.

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. is quickly climbing up draft boards around the NFL. Now that Herbert has decided he will not declare, Haskins Jr. will be considered the top quarterback prospect in 2019. Dwayne Haskins Jr. was a 2018 Heisman Trophy finalist. He lead the NCAA this season in passing touchdowns (47) and passing yards (4,580). The Buckeye is a pro-style quarterback which especially intrigues NFL scouts.

The Ohio State signal caller received a first round grade from the draft advisory board this week. There are no other quarterback prospects who are considered definite first round players at this point. Haskins Jr. is separated from the pack, however he too is a junior who has yet to make a decision. It is reported that after next week’s Rose Bowl, Haskins Jr. will meet with family, friends, and coaches and come to a decision.

New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning Uncertain About Future

On Wednesday morning, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was questioned by reporters near his locker room. Following the week 16 loss against Indianapolis, Pat Shurmur confirmed that Manning will start the final game of the season against Dallas. Despite this, there has still been no status update on the 15 year veteran’s future with the Giants.

What Has Eli Said About His Future?

While being questioned by his locker on Wednesday, a reporter asked the quarterback if he “expects to be here next season as the starting quarterback.” Manning responded with “I don’t know.” He then elaborated on that statement. Eli said he has not got into that or thought much about that yet.

With one game left this season, it is just about time for Manning to begin to think about his future. The Giants have had a disappointing season at 5-10. They are expected to be picking in the top ten again in this year’s draft. The uncertainty surrounding Eli Manning leads many to believe the Giants will select a quarterback in the first round this year. (Quotes provided by @art_stapleton on Twitter).

What Has Coach Shurmur Said About Eli’s Future?

Head coach Pat Shurmur was asked on Wednesday if he gives any thought at all to the possibility that this will be Eli Manning’s final game as a Giant.

Shurmur responded by saying:

“No, not really. Eli’s our starter. Eli gives us the best chance to win and he is going to play on Sunday. That’s where we’re at. I think when the game is over we start talking in-depth about what’s going to happen moving forward… I’m not worried about that. Again, you’re talking to the coach. I’m not worried about that, I’m worried about the game” (via @RVacchianoSNY on Twitter).

Pat Shurmur gave a traditional coach’s answer. All he will admit to being focused on is the upcoming game. With a week left in the season, it will be interesting to see how Pat Shurmur responds to this question following this week’s game.

The Giants will be closing out this disappointing season at home against the Cowboys. With the possibility of this being Manning’s last game as a Giant, all eyes will be on number 10.

What Should The New York Giants Do At Quarterback In 2019?

Eli Manning may have just pulled off his 36th career game-winning drive in San Francisco on Monday night, but there are a few undeniable truths that the Giants fan-base and organization need to recognize and consider:

  1. Manning is 37 years old and will be 38 at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
  2. Manning’s quality of play has declined over the past few seasons.
  3. The Giants are 5-20 over the past two seasons.
  4. Cutting Eli Manning this offseason will save the Giants $17 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap.
  5. The Giants do not have an heir apparent at the quarterback position.

With that being said, what options do the Giants have?

Current New York Giants Quarterbacks:

Eli Manning: Despite his declining and consistently lackluster play over the past two seasons, there are a few reasons why the Giants might want to keep Eli Manning in 2019. For one, he is a Giants legend and they may fear facing fan-base backlash from cutting him, similar to the back lash they faced when benching him last season. Letting him play an extra year gives him the chance to retire and go out with a season long send-off.

Furthermore, if they do decide to draft a quarterback this year, they could sit him behind Manning for a year and let him learn from the veteran, similar to what Kansas City did with Patrick Mahomes. In addition to this, it can be argued that Manning is not playing as bad as the media says he is.

Manning’s completion percentage this season is the highest it has ever been at 67.6 percent, he is ninth in the league in passing yards so far this season, and he has been sacked a league high 32 times. These statistics can draw a few key conclusions.

First off, the Giants have an awful offensive line and it would be difficult for any quarterback to play behind it. Secondly, Manning has shown that he is capable of playing well when given time in the pocket. Finally, Eli’s 11 touchdowns in 9 games but 2,565 yards demonstrates that he and the Giants offense are good until they get into the red zone. This can be attributed to player execution and even coach Shurmur’s play calling.

Kyle Lauletta: Giants fans are eager to see what the team has in the 4th round rookie out of Richmond, but he has yet to even be activated for a regular season game. Coach Shurmur should definitely look to see what the team has in Lauletta sometime this season with some regular season playing time. However, his recent arrest and Eli’s magical win against the 49ers might delay the Kyle Lauletta show.

If he gets to play this season, the team can assess him and plan ahead accordingly. Best case scenario: they hit big-time on a 4th round quarterback and found their heir apparent. Worst case scenario: Lauletta has a maximum potential that most would expect out of a 4th round quarterback and he ends up being a backup for the future. The only way for the Giants to know the answer is to give Lauletta a chance in the 2018 season.

Current NFL, Non-Giants Quarterbacks:

Teddy Bridgewater: The 2014 first round pick out of Louisville for the Minnesota Vikings has had a rocky career. In his rookie season, Bridgewater showed great potential and won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore season, Bridgewater progressed further and was selected to his first pro bowl. At this point, it looked like there was a promising career ahead for the young quarterback, until he suffered a devastating knee injury that would sideline him all of 2016.

In 2017, Bridgewater still was not healthy enough to be a starter again, but he managed to remain on the roster. In the 2018 offseason, Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets, played well in the preseason (one might even say well enough to start for another franchise with a 73.7% completion percentage and 104.7 QBR), but was then traded to the New Orleans Saints to backup Drew Brees.

Teddy Bridgewater will be a free agent again this offseason, and he is expected to draw interest from around the league if he is not retained by New Orleans. Being that he is a former Minnesota quarterback, Bridgewater has a connection with Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, former offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Shurmur is familiar with Bridgewater and knows his potential.

If the Giants are willing to cut ties with Manning, Bridgewater could be a great developmental option for the Giants if they feel like they can maximize his potential. Additionally, signing Bridgewater does not mean that he needs to be the future of the Giants. Theoretically, they could sign him the same way that the Jets did, if he agrees to it. The Giants could try to get Bridgewater on a one-year deal and draft a quarterback, just like the Jets did.

Derek Carr: Raiders coach Jon Gruden began a fire sale in Oakland during the 2018 season, trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. According to Oakland’s general manager, Reggie McKenzie, no one is untouchable. That would seemingly include Carr. Derek Carr has been selected to a pro bowl each of the last three seasons and he lead his team to a 12-3 season before breaking his leg in 2016, a season in which he was an MVP candidate.

However, this season Carr has looked like somewhat of a shell of his former self. The former gunslinger now settles for countless check downs, as documented by NFL Next Gen Stats’s passing charts, and has a 10 to 8 touchdown to interception ratio through nine games.

This begs the question: what happened to Derek Carr in 2018? These issues could be attributed to his putrid offensive line, a lack of weapons, a fear of reinjuring himself, or the new coaching staff. These issues could potentially all be solved with a change of scenery for Carr, and that could just bring him back to his 2016 playing level.

If the Raiders end up with the first pick and decide to move on from Carr, they could select Herbert and put Carr on the trading block. If that happens, the Giants would need to consider trading for Carr, since Herbert would no longer be an option. The trade would be costly (potentially one first, one second, or maybe even two first round draft picks) but if the Giants are confident they could get Carr back to playing to his full potential, they should make the move and acquire the three time pro-bowler.

College Quarterbacks

2019 Draft Class: Last year’s draft class was considerably loaded. This upcoming year’s class? Not so much. The consensus for the top signal-caller of the 2019 class is Oregon’s Justin Herbert (and there are rumors that he might not even declare this year).

It is also well-documented that the Giants are heavily interested in Herbert. They have attended six of his ten games so far this season. He’s a big body, strong arm quarterback with a good personality. He’s had a good, but inconsistent junior year, thus far. He has games with a completion percentage as high as 78% and as low as 47%, so there is still much work to be done with consistency if he wants to be a star in this league. His 25 touchdowns and 2,621 passing yards in ten games are impressive, however, his accuracy can be inconsistent (as displayed in the Oregon vs. Arizona game in October).

Even with his high ceiling, when compared to the 2018 class, it would be hard to rank Herbert inside the top three prospects. Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen would likely all rank higher than Herbert if they were a part of the same draft class. That being said, he could be a franchise quarterback with some development, but he’s not as close to a “sure-thing” as anyone in the 2018 draft class.

Other notable quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class include Will Grier (West Virginia), Drew Lock (Missouri), Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), and Daniel Jones (Duke). All of these players have potential to be first and second round quarterbacks and, with the right development, maybe even starting quarterbacks in the NFL. However, none of these guys are considered to have the same potential as the 2018 draft class by sources such as Pro Football Focus and Bleacher Report.

2020 Draft Class:

A lot of fans believe that Monday night’s win has ruined New York’s chances at the top pick in 2019 and, subsequently, their chances at drafting Justin Herbert. If that is the case and the Giants are unable to secure the Oregon quarterback, they might look to trade back, accumulate more picks, and draft someone from the 2020 draft class. 2019 Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa has been lighting it up in his sophomore year for Alabama, drawing comparisons to Russel Wilson. He will be every quarterback-needy team’s dream choice in 2020 and, with an accumulation of picks from trading down in 2019, the Giants could possibly have the first pick, or enough draft capital to move up to the first pick and select Tua Tagovailoa.

The Giants have tons of options for their future at quarterback. Being that they have so many options, it is too soon to say that passing on a quarterback for Saquon Barkley in 2018 was a mistake. After all, Saquon Barkley truly has hall of fame potential. Could this have been New York’s plan all along? Draft Barkley and secure a quarterback the following season? Possibly. Time will only tell. The New York Giants need to make the right decision this offseason in order to avoid what general manager Dave Gettleman would consider to be “quarterback hell.”