NFL insider notebook: Giants should be, and can be, all-in on acquiring Russell Wilson, plus Week 12 picks
Jonathan Jones' weekly look inside the NFL
When you fire the offensive coordinator 11 weeks into the season, it usually means the season is lost.
Joe Judge had to axe Jason Garrett and there's no disputing that. But it's hard to imagine the New York Giants are suddenly going to rise up the NFC wild card standings with Freddie Kitchens at the controls for the final month-plus of the season, especially in a division where the Eagles and Football Team are trending up.
It's time for the Giants to do something drastic if they want to get out of the basement of the NFL. This offseason, the Giants must go all-in trading for Russell Wilson.
Wilson, of course, is under contract through the 2023 season after signing a four-year, $140 million extension in 2019. If Wilson wasn't happy in Seattle after a 12-4 season last year, he's probably not happy in what's probably going to be his first losing season of his career in 2021.
The Giants need a shot in the arm in a big way. Big Blue has the second-worst record in the NFL since the start of the 2017 season (21-53), trailing only their MetLife Stadium partners by one game.
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A trade of this magnitude must work for everyone: Wilson, the Giants and the Seahawks. Here's why this makes the most sense.
The Giants have arguably the best trade package available. Following Week 11, the Giants stood to have the fifth overall pick in April's draft plus the No. 7 pick by virtue of the Chicago trade that netted the Bears Justin Fields. Only the Jets have two top 10 picks this year, and they just got their franchise QB in Zach Wilson a few months ago.
Two first-rounders alone wouldn't get it done, but it's a necessary start. New York would have to throw in a 2023 first-rounder and some other items (players and/or picks) to make this work.
Who exactly makes that trade is TBD. GM Dave Gettleman is in the final year of his contract and the expectation is he won't be renewed after the season. Whether co-owner John Mara turns the controls over to Kevin Abrams or goes outside "the family" must be determined, but the next GM will be charged with turning around this proud ship run aground.
It'd be imperative that the Giants make themselves as comforting to Wilson as possible. That would involve back-channeling to hire an offensive coordinator under Judge (who's expected to be retained as it stands today) that Wilson would want to scheme with.
The Giants have the offensive personnel, and Gettleman & Co. have built a respectable offensive line over the years. Weapons and protection wouldn't be a problem for Wilson there.
What do you do with Daniel Jones? Well… you'd figure it out. Jones is a capable NFL starter, and with a poor QB draft class, more than one team would be interested in acquiring Jones if he were traded. The Giants could always retain Jones as a backup in this scenario, but a Darnold-to-Carolina-like trade would make the most sense for New York to reacquire some of the capital spent on acquiring Wilson.
And finally, New York is a place Wilson would surely like to be. It doesn't get any more metropolitan than New York, and being the star in the Big Apple should suit Wilson, his wife and their lifestyle.
Why not Aaron Rodgers? If he leaves Green Bay, bank on him going west. Denver remains the front-runner there.
Why not Deshaun Watson? It certainly could be him if his very serious legal issues have reached a palatable conclusion for the Giants. But they could very well be faced with a suspended starting quarterback for the first chunk of the 2022 season and on track for yet another slow start.
What about the draft? In case you haven't heard by now, it's a weak quarterback class.
"Zero doubt John Schneider has a plan [for when Wilson leaves]," one league source put it. "The QBs (or lack thereof) in this draft makes things tricky. NYG makes sense with 2 top 10s."
That's why it behooves Seattle to rip the Band-Aid off just after the season concludes, similar to the Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford trade last season or the Alex Smith trade to Washington in 2018. The Seahawks would have ample time before the start of March's free agency to watch how the quarterback market unfolds. They'd get the combine to see the top QBs in action before that, too. There's no need to delay the inevitable when the earlier you execute the trade, the more options you ultimately get.
You may be wondering … where were the Giants on the infamous four-team list earlier this year? Remember when Wilson didn't request a trade but had a list ready for teams he'd go play for if he ever did request a trade? Those teams were the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders and Bears.
The four teams before the start of the season had question marks at quarterback. It was unclear what the Cowboys would do with Dak Prescott, where the Saints would go post-Brees, whether Derek Carr was long for Las Vegas and what the Bears would do after Mitch Trubisky.
I can most charitably describe it as bad form by Wilson (or his representation) to have that destination list leaked considering Prescott was surely coming back to Dallas while negotiating his deal and while Carr had been established with the Raiders organization. Nevertheless, the Giants weren't on the list when they were surely returning to Jones for a third season.
Right now, the only team from the original list that would have a need is New Orleans, but the Saints couldn't offer anything like what New York could in terms of a trade package.
The Giants need to be aggressive if they wish to get back to competitive relevancy in the NFL. And a trade for one of the best quarterbacks would be the fresh start this franchise really needs.
Bears' soon-to-be opening attractive
Whether it happens today, or tomorrow, or any day between now and Jan. 10 following the final game of the regular season, Bears head coach Matt Nagy will be relieved of his duties in Chicago.
It's likely that general manager Ryan Pace will meet a similar fate, and it'll be the dawn of a new era in the Windy City.
With more than a month left in the regular season, the Bears job — either one of them — seems like it'll be the best one on the market. That's the overwhelming response I've gotten from sources around the league and coaches and personnel execs gear up for a new hiring/firing cycle.
Chicago would offer a clean slate for a new GM and head coach. It has the quarterback of the future already in place on a rookie contract, plus some quality veteran pieces to fill in around. Ownership isn't known to meddle, meaning the folks hired for the job can simply do their job. And with Aaron Rodgers very likely on his way out of Green Bay, the NFC North would be up for grabs.
Being considered for either job would be a boon for any coach or personnel member, and the Chicago job is going to be No. 1 on a lot of lists this winter.
Set your calendar
Last month the league announced the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine will be held in Indianapolis. Normally that's not news because the combine has always been there. But soon enough the league will turn that into the incredible traveling circus and send it to various NFL cities across the country.
The upcoming combine will be held March 1 through March 7 in Indy. There was some wonder whether the combine would be pushed back a week since Week 18 was added to the schedule. It will not be.
For what it's worth, the deadline to issue a transition or franchise tag will be March 8 at 4 p.m. ET. The free agency legal tampering window will open at noon ET on March 14 with true, unbridled free agency beginning March 16 at 4 p.m. ET.
Week 12 picks
I rebounded with a solid 10-5 Week 11 to bring my overall record to 106-58-1. It's a record I'm proud of and so let's keep it going. On Thursday I took the Bears, Cowboys and Saints.
Falcons at Jaguars
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
The Jaguars' offense has regressed in a big way. Their receivers aren't very good and they've had no semblance of a run game. I liked the way the Falcons' defense held up against the Patriots more than a week ago, and Matt Ryan won't be under siege against the Jags like he was vs. New England.
The pick: Falcons
Panthers at Dolphins
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Miami is trending up and Carolina's going the wrong way. It's looking more like Carolina caught Arizona on a bad day than the Panthers are a real wild card threat. I love the way Miami's defense is playing right now.
The pick: Dolphins
Chargers at Broncos
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
L.A. needs to shore up its special teams or else it'll lose games like it's 2019. Justin Herbert, though, is a bona fide star and will soon be an All-Pro QB.
The pick: Chargers
Bengals over Steelers
Texans over Jets
Buccaneers over Colts
Patriots over Titans
Eagles over Giants
Packers over Rams
49ers over Vikings
Ravens over Browns
Seahawks over Football Team