The Giants will have a tough call in the NFL Draft next month. They really need to find Eli Manning’s successor, and they could be in a perfect position to draft him. But they also think they can compete for the playoffs this season, and could find immediate help at other positions with the sixth overall pick.
Lucky for them, there could be a simple solution to their conundrum if Cardinals QB Josh Rosen really is on the block.
The 22-year-old quarterback, who was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft, would be a no-brainer solution for the Giants – if the price is right. He’s talented enough that there were some in the Giants’ organization who thought he was the best quarterback in last year’s draft, when they decided to take RB Saquon Barkley instead. And he showed enough flashes in a bad situation with the Cardinals last season to convince many he has a bright future, especially if he can sit and learn behind a veteran for a year.
If the Cardinals do shop him – which they’ll have to do if they decide to take Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the first pick, as many around the league believe they will do – plenty of NFL people seem to think the Giants could get him without giving up a first-round pick. In fact, there’s plenty of speculation that the cost will only be a third-round pick, but that seems awfully low considering the Cardinals traded a third and a fifth to move up to draft him last year.
Still, any deal without a first-round pick involved would be an incredible steal for a potential franchise quarterback. If all it takes is a second-rounder and maybe another pick in 2020 to end up with two of the 10 best players in last year’s draft, there’s no way Giants GM Dave Gettleman should say no to that.
His willingness to do that will, of course, depend on just how much he liked Rosen last year when he was coming out of UCLA. The Giants locked in on Barkley early, but they did extensively scout the top quarterbacks in the draft.
According to multiple sources, they generally seemed to think Sam Darnold (who went to the Jets) and Josh Allen (who went to the Bills) were the two best quarterbacks available, depending on who was asked. Some of their scouts like Rosen, but there were concerns about his concussion history and whether his personality would be a fit in New York.
But those concerns were being weighed against other top quarterbacks in a discussion about the No. 2 overall pick. If all he costs is a second-round pick or a third (assuming the Giants can trade for one), the conversation about risks and concerns about Rosen as a franchise quarterback will be much different.
And yes, Rosen may still be a franchise quarterback, even though it seems like the Cardinals and their new head coach Kliff Kingsbury can’t wait to get rid of him. He did only complete 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,279 yards in 14 games, with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. But a quarterback’s rookie season isn’t always an indicator of future success, especially considering he was being battered behind an offensive line that got him sacked 45 times, and played on what became the NFL’s worst team.
Surely he would benefit from a year with Manning, under what Gettleman has lovingly called “the Kansas City model” – where the new guy sits and learns for a year, with the intention of having him start in 2020. Presumably, Manning could teach him how to deal with the media and how to handle himself in public – two big concerns some around the league still seem to have.
If it doesn’t work out, and a year from now the Giants decide Rosen isn’t what they thought he was, so what? They wouldn’t have wasted a first-round pick to find out. That’s the risk of taking a quarterback with a high pick. It requires a franchise to commit several years to that player. If a team misfires on a first-round quarterback, it often sets the franchise back at least five years.
That wouldn’t be the case with Rosen. It’s like he’d be on a short-term tryout. Financially, he’d only cost the Giants $1.2 million this season (including his salary and a roster bonus due this summer). His cap numbers in 2020 and 2021 are only $4.8 million and $5.6 million, making him very cuttable entering the last year of his rookie deal.
So why not take a shot if the Cardinals are selling? The Giants would end up with two of the top players on their board from last year’s draft, and would set their succession plan in motion with a potential Quarterback of the Future. They’d also have some financial flexibility coming in 2020-21 with a quarterback still on his rookie deal. And just as important, they could use the sixth overall pick this year on a pass rusher or offensive linemen to help them now and in the future, too.
It’s a low-risk move for a potential of several high rewards, and would give Gettleman exactly what he’s looking for: A team that can compete this year, and a future for the franchise that feels secure.