The Giants appear to be down to a final three candidates to be their next head coach, and whichever one they choose may have a difficult choice to make. All three of their finalists could be offered another job, too.
And the Giants job may not be the best of what's left.
There was a time when it would be a no-brainer for a head coach to take a high-profile job with a flagship franchise in a major media market with a committed ownership intent on staying out of a coach's way. But the world is smaller now, and even small markets have big jobs. There are plenty of NFL owners willing to spend what it takes and let their coach handle the rest.
Add in that the Giants are coming off a total mess of a season with a locker room perceived as dysfunctional, a 37-year-old quarterback and an uncertain future at that position, and an angry fan base (and testy media) tired of all the losing they've seen since Super Bowl XLVI and …
Well, it's not hard to see why Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Pat Shurmer -- the three candidates the Giants are now focusing on, according to a team source -- could see better opportunities elsewhere. And according to reports, McDaniels might be the favorite in Indianapolis; Patricia is the front-runner in Detroit; and Shurmur could get an offer from Arizona.
Here's a look at the pros and cons of all four available head coaching jobs:
New York Giants
Pros: They were 11-5 a year ago so there's obviously some talent, and they should get a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. back next season. They have a strong core on defense (S Landon Collins, DE Olivier Vernon, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins). Very few key players will be free agents in March. The Giants also have the No. 2 pick in the draft. And Eli Manning is a proven commodity who could still succeed with the right cast around him. Beckham, WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram are a nice start.
Cons: Manning is 37 and a clear successor is not in place. The offensive line needs a total rebuild, perhaps in all five positions. The locker room was a mess last season, particularly on defense. Cornerback Eli Apple, a recent top-10 pick, was called a "cancer" by Collins. Bad drafting for many years has left the roster thin. And while Beckham is a star, he also can be a problem, especially with a looming contract extension likely on the shelf for now.
X factor: Never underestimate the lure of the New York spotlight. Also, Bill Belichick's fondness for the Giants could steer one of his coordinators this direction.
Pros: There's a 29-year-old franchise quarterback in place in Matthew Stafford, who is signed through 2024, and a couple of 1,000-yard receivers to build around (Golden Tate, Marvin Jones). They also have a cornerstone cornerback on defense in Darius Slay (signed through 2020), and they should have a decent amount of cap space to spend in the offseason.
Cons: They may no longer be the Lions of 2001-2010 when they endured 10 straight losing seasons and an 0-16 year, but they don't have a winning history to build on. They last won a postseason game in 1991, so there's pressure to win and not a big history of patience by ownership. The defense also needs a lot of work and their running game was the NFL's worst.
X factor for Patricia: Lions GM Bob Quinn was a long-time Patriots scout and executive and he's believed to be close to Patricia. Quinn and Belichick were close too, which might help.
Pros: Andrew Luck has long been thought of as the next great NFL quarterback, and he's still only 28 and signed through 2021. The expectation is he'll be back next year after missing 2017 with an injured shoulder. GM Chris Ballard, entering his second year, is well-respected and could have more than $80 million to spend as he remakes his roster. They also have the No. 3 pick, which in a quarterback-rich draft could be a huge trade commodity.
Cons: While it's expected Luck will be back, no one knows for sure. There are definitely rumors that his recovery is behind schedule. Meanwhile, the team around him is a disaster. The defense is in the early phases of a rebuild and the offensive line is a mess. Among their free agents are their leading rusher, RB Frank Gore, and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
X factor for McDaniels: If McDaniels wants some control over personnel, as many believe, he's much more likely to get it here than with the Giants.
Pros: The talent starts with CB Patrick Peterson, S Tyrann Mathieu, WR Larry Fitzgerald, DE Chandler Jones (the NFL's sack leader) and all-pro special teamer Budda Baker. Plus, their best player, RB David Johnson, should be back next season after missing almost all of 2017 with an injured wrist.
Cons: Quarterback Carson Palmer has retired and his replacement isn't on the roster. Their cupboard is so bare that outgoing coach Bruce Arians mentioned Blaine Gabbert as a possibility. That's a major problem because the Cards are projected to have fewer cap space than almost any other team in the NFL, and they pick 15th in the draft -- likely out of range of the top three and maybe top four quarterbacks.
X factor for Shurmur: The Arizona desert is about as far from the New York spotlight as you can get in the NFL, so if the concern with him is if he has the personality and presence for the big stage, this could be a much better (and smaller) fit.