INDIANAPOLIS - The Giants were a bit of a mess when their season ended two months ago. They had a 5-11 record and their immediate direction was uncertain. Even the identity of both their Quarterbacks of the Future and the Present weren't completely clear.
The first answers to some of the most crucial questions could come on Wednesday when both GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur are expected to speak to the media at the NFL's annual scouting combine. Here's a preview of some of the key questions they're likely to be asked, and what they are expected to say...
1. Are the Giants committed to Eli Manning at quarterback for (at least) one more season?
The answer, as anyone who has been paying attention already knows, is yes. Gettleman will probably make that clear as soon as he steps to the podium at 11:45 a.m., if Shurmur doesn't beat him to it when he speaks at 10 a.m. Yes, Gettleman left things vague during his season-ending press conference so he could speak with his 38-year-old quarterback first. But the feeling in the organization is they don't want to leave their franchise icon twisting as they seemingly make up their minds.
Besides, they already have. As SNY has been reporting for months, the Giants understand that Manning remains their best option. The free-agent market (which will likely include the likes of Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater) is underwhelming and likely overpriced. And none of the quarterbacks they could get with the sixth overall pick are projected as Day 1 starters.
Their plan is to bring Manning back and build the team around him in the hopes of one last playoff run behind the franchise icon. Maybe he'll groom his successor along the way or maybe not. But Manning will be The Man again in 2019.
2. Will they finally draft Manning's successor?
What Gettleman and Shurmur are likely to talk a lot about is how they won't force a pick in the draft if they're not in love with a player. They'll also talk about how they know they need to replace Manning sooner than later. And if that sounds like they'll be playing both sides of this coin … well, they will be.
There is, however, what seems to be an increased sense of urgency about drafting a quarterback -- not surprising since Manning's contract expires at the end of next season. Whether they take one at No. 6 depends on whether they fall in love with a guy like Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins over the next month. A lot of people around the league are convinced they'll either take Haskins or draft someone else at the top of the second round.
Don't rule out them kicking this decision into 2020, though. This is not a well-regarded quarterback class, especially compared to the first-rounders from last year and the likely first-rounders next year, either.
3. Is Odell Beckham Jr. on or off the trading block?
The Giants aren't actively shopping him, but the rumor mill is still churning, and for the second straight offseason the front office refuses to say "Absolutely not" when questioned about trading Beckham. The contract makes a deal unlikely anyway, so it's even more maddening that the Giants won't completely rule it out.
Figure Gettleman and Shurmur to stick with the previous plan here, where they indicate they have no interest in trading him without actually saying they won't. Beckham will then react on Twitter with some vague, mysterious Tweet that nobody but him understands. Fans will go crazy. The media will write about it and the fans/readers will go crazy again.
And in the end, Beckham will be wearing his familiar No. 13 Giants jersey when training camp begins in July - at which point the Giants will say "See, we told you so" even though they didn't.
4. Will they use the franchise tag on Landon Collins?
They're not going to cough up this secret, nor will they solve the mystery of what Collins took out of his locker when he left the facility last week. Everyone will have to read between the lines here when they talk about what Collins brings to their defense and how they plan to rebuild that unit. They are expected to use the franchise tag on Collins at an expected cost of $11.2 million, mostly because they don't have a lot of impact players on defense and can't afford to get rid of the ones they have.
5. Will LB Olivier Vernon and CB Janoris Jenkins become cap casualties?
Speaking of impact players they can't afford to give up … Vernon and Jenkins figured to be the first players removed from their books when the offseason began. Cutting Vernon would clear $11.5 million in salary cap space and cutting Jenkins would clear $7.75 million (according to Overthecap.com). So it's a no-brainer, right?
Again, not really, because both are good players and the Giants don't have a lot of those on defense. Jenkins is the best of a very thin cornerback corps, and it should be noted they refused to dump him at the trading deadline in October the way they did cornerback Eli Apple and defensive tackle Damon Harrison. And Vernon is the only player on the roster who seems capable of mounting a pass rush. They could cut him, but they'd have to replace him -- and a decent replacement likely would cost much more.