The Giants fleeced the Bears. Their next goal is to not become the Bears.
Chicago made the expensive trade up for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields last week because it had clung for four years to former No. 2 pick Mitchell Trubisky at QB.
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The Bears’ desperation led them to trade their 2022 first-round pick, a 2021 fifth and a 2022 fourth to swap with the Giants coming up from pick No. 20 to 11.
Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge did well as the beneficiaries of Chicago’s dire need. And with extra picks in the first, third and fourth rounds of the 2022 draft, the Giants now are armed to acquire their next franchise QB if Daniel Jones flops in Year 3.
But that is not who the Giants want to be. They do not want to be the franchise that stubbornly sticks too long with a subpar quarterback, forcing them to overpay with premium assets to get a new one rather than improving their overall team.
They already made that mistake with Eli Manning at the end of his career, delaying the selection of his heir and damaging the franchise’s fortunes in the process.
Would this prompt the Giants to trade imminently for Aaron Rodgers, 37, Russell Wilson, 32, or Deshaun Watson, 25, if and when his legal situation concludes? Pursuing any avenue to upgrade the team should be mandatory, but that’s not how they’re talking about their QB.
Gettleman changed his tune on possibly calling the Packers in a recent WFAN interview, saying: “You explore everything.” But if word got out about the Giants calling those teams, it would undermine their public confidence in Jones.
So it’s unlikely the Giants would make that phone call unless they intended to make a deal.
Don’t forget, either: if the Giants were looking to replace Jones this spring, they could have just drafted Fields or Alabama’s Mac Jones at 11. Instead, they acted as if both players didn’t exist, outside of leveraging their presence for trade purposes.
That adds Fields and the Patriots’ Jones to the list of QBs who forever will be compared to Jones, the Giants’ No. 6 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
So far, the ones who got away while the Giants have groomed Jones are the Ravens’ 2019 league MVP Lamar Jackson, the Bills’ Josh Allen and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert. Sam Darnold might join that list after one season in Joe Brady’s Carolina offense, as well.
Jones lost twice head-to-head to Trubisky in two years, and he fell to Darnold’s Jets and Jackson’s Ravens, too.
The Giants knew Jones needed more help on the talent side to give him a chance, though, in Year 3. One NFL source, asked prior to the draft which receiver he would draft for the Giants, responded: “Well, I never would have traded Odell.”
Jones didn’t have a star No. 1 receiver his rookie year because Gettleman traded Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland before selecting the Duke QB. He’ll finally have an explosive and deep group of skill position players in 2021, including Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney.
The offensive line still could undermine the Giants’ high hopes, though. This is no sure thing. And Jones’ fumbling and poor decision-making might not be mistakes. They could be who he is.
That said, while sticking with Jones is rolling the dice, the Giants don’t want to be back on that precarious hamster wheel of searching for a franchise QB. It is a difficult and painful cycle to try and dismount. Just ask Bears GM Ryan Pace.
So since the Giants believe they see championship caliber and character in Jones, the optimal result is to stick with him, win with him, and build a deep roster and sustainable program. And if it doesn’t go well, at least they’re better prepared to pivot than they were a couple weeks ago.
By the way, to fully appreciate the Giants’ trade with Chicago, remember that the Bears took a run at Wilson in March. When the Seahawks turned them down, Pace took a run at signing Golladay in free agency. The Bears were the team that drove the price up on the Giants, who gave Golladay a shocking amount of money in a thin market.
So the Giants knew what the Bears were looking for and how aggressive they had been this spring. That prompted them to engage Chicago in the lucrative draft day deal.
Despite all that, Gettleman described the Giants as fortunate this week that a player was still waiting for them at pick No. 20 after the trade.
Gettleman told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Giants had “about four guys up there [on our board] that we really wanted” when they agreed to trade with the Bears, “and fortunately for us, one of them was still there [at 20], and it was Kadarius [Toney].”
For all the talk of Gettleman’s bold first-ever trade down, his language certainly paints a picture of uneasiness more than confidence in the trade on draft night. Of course, Gettleman isn’t the only voice in the room, either.
“We looked at who we thought were gonna be available down in that area, and we felt comfortable doing it,” Gettleman said. “We would not have been comfortable going much further back if at all, very frankly, with this year’s draft.”
The Giants were going to draft Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith at No. 11 until the Eagles traded over them to take him, and once that happened, USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was next up on their board, sources said.
When they traded back, it’s believed their four-player list included Vera-Tucker, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis and Toney. Gettleman even said Thursday on NFL Network that the Giants would have been “thrilled” if they had landed Davis, who Washington took at No. 19.
“We thought it would be either [Toney] or the player actually taken in front of us, I gotta be honest, Jamin Davis. We would have been thrilled for either one,” Gettleman said.
Thanks in large part to the Bears and Patriots taking QBs, Toney was still there at 20 even though the other three were gone. It certainly sounds, though, like Gettleman was concerned at some point that the Giants had nearly traded too far back.
“There was a part of me that didn’t want to trade back because that way you guys would have stuff to talk about next year it would be nine years in a row,” he said.
A fun note on Toney, who is from Mobile, Ala.: his parents joke that their son is “a Senior Bowl baby.” In January 1999, his parents had walked their family to Ladd-Peebles Stadium to watch the annual showcase of future NFLers such as Donovan McNabb, Peerless Price, Joey Porter, Cade McNown and Kevin Faulk. “Little did we know during the course of the game his mom had gone into labor,” father Dana Toney said Saturday. “And days later, [mother Angela Williams] gave birth to Kadarius.” … I believe there is a good chance that UCF corner Aaron Robinson, the Giants’ third-round pick, plays the most 2021 snaps of anyone in this Giants rookie class. Reports of Darnay Holmes’ security in the starting lineup have been greatly exaggerated … Giants rookie minicamp is scheduled for Friday through Sunday. The NFL players’ union has been encouraging rookies to join the players’ boycott of offseason work, but many agents are advising their clients to attend anyway, because they have so much to lose by not showing as unproven additions from the college ranks … The standoff between the NFL and NFLPA continues. Broncos OT Ju’Wuan James sustained a potentially season-ending Achilles injury while working out at a private gym. The NFL reminded teams in a memo that a player isn’t owed guaranteed money in the event of a “non-football injury” that happens away from the building. The union told players that the NFL’s using James’ injury as an example in this manner was “gutless.” All team work is still voluntary, regardless. Mandatory minicamps will happen in mid-June. The Giants’ is from June 8-10.
The NFL’s first 17-game regular season schedule comes out Wednesday. A reminder that the Giants have nine road games: at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, L.A. Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, Cowboys, Washington and Eagles. The Giants’ eight home games will be against the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Rams and their three NFC East foes.