The New York Giants are committed to starting quarterback Daniel Jones through the 2022 NFL season, yet the roster lacks a viable backup for the injury-prone gun-slinger — forcing the G-men to look towards free agency and the draft for a second-stringer.
“We’re going to bring in competition everywhere, but Daniel Jones is our starting quarterback right now,’’ said new Giants general manager Joe Schoen at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month.
Jones missed the final six games of the 2021 regular season with a neck injury, which led the Giants to play a combination of journeyman Mike Glennon and sophomore passer Jake Fromm, who the team had picked up off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad.
The team lost all six games without Jones starting.
Glennon got the first look as the replacement starter in Week 13, and was ultimately benched in Week 15 in favor of Fromm, who in turn was benched in his first career start the following game, giving Glennon back the job under center.
The bleak game of musical chairs earned much-deserved boos from the few Giants fans who could stand to watch the team, and highlighted the need to have a workable second-string quarterback.
Now, Glennon is a free agent, and the franchise’s new regime of Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll will likely look to move on from the days of Fromm backing up their fourth-year starter.
There are several quarterback prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, and while the team will likely look toward using their top picks on filling their many other positions-of-need, they could look to spend a later-round pick on a passer — but that would hardly allow any fans to breathe easy in case of a Jones absence, as the track record of late-round rookies is spotty at best.
“I haven’t done a ton of work on these guys yet, but I’m gonna,’’ Daboll said of the incoming quarterback class earlier this month.
Instead, the team could look toward free agency, which begins on March 16, to pick up a more-reliable veteran backup.
So, who’s available?
The 29-year-old Bridgewater played last season for the Denver Broncos (who recently acquired Russell Wilson) and led the team to a 7-8 record in 15 starts, before suffering an injury that sidelined him for the last three games.
Bridgewater, who began his career as a first-round draft pick for the Minnesota Vikings, before making stops as a backup for the New Orleans Saints, and a starter for the Carolina Panthers prior to his year in Denver, is widely known as a “safe” choice at quarterback. He hardly throws the ball deep, and is a cautious passer that does not get intercepted often — which could make him an appealing choice as the Giants’ backup.
The former second-overall pick, Mariota may be looking for a starting job in the league this year, after backing up Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Dereck Carr for the previous two seasons — but the Giants could be an interesting landing spot if he doesn’t find one.
Mariota has been turnover-prone in his years in the NFL, but his dynamic work as a runner could pair nicely with Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley if he should enter the game.
Like Mariota, Taylor would offer a dual-threat as a runner and passer behind center.
Most recently with the Houston Texans, Taylor played six games scattered throughout last season as starting quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered multiple minor injuries — and he generally held his own against opposing defenses.
The former Baltimore Raven, Buffalo Bill, Cleveland Brown, and Los Angeles Charger will not likely win any games by himself, but he is a serviceable player who can fit multiple different schemes. The Giants may be interested, though Taylor may be searching for a landing spot that offers him the ability to start in the long-term.
No list of potential backup quarterbacks would be complete without including Fitzpatrick, who has played for nearly ⅓ of all franchises in the NFL throughout his journeyman career.
Suiting up last season with the Washington Football Team (now the Washington Commanders), Fitzpatrick has built a reputation as a plug-and-play option for desperate teams looking to fill the void under center.
New Yorkers will be familiar with Fitzpatrick from his two-year stint as the quarterback of the Jets, when he led Gang Green to a 10-6 record in 2015, and then a disappointing 5-11 record the following season.
The “Red Rifle” began last season as the starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears, before a Week 2 injury sidelined him. He returned for five games later in the year, and threw at least one interception in all-but-one game that he started.
Nonetheless, the former Cincinnati Bengal has the experience to step on the field and play should Jones miss time.
Other possibilities include:
- Mitchell Trubisky
- Jameis Winston
- Jacoby Brissett
- Brian Hoyer