new york giants free agency
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Who will ultimately back up New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in what will be his third season in the league?

Free agency is right around the corner, and for the fourth consecutive year, New York Giants fans can begin deciphering the players they want without having to worry about any type of postseason game.

The Giants might consider seeking out a wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher, or possibly a tight end amid Evan Engram’s struggles. There is, however, one additional position; a position where the individual in that spot hopefully won’t see the field all too often.

Soon-to-be third-year quarterback Daniel Jones needs a backup. And no, not someone who’s been a backup for much of his career like Colt McCoy.

Jones needs someone who’s not only older and possesses significant starting experience, but someone who can additionally mentor him, motivate him in training camp, as well as be serviceable if he goes down or struggles.

There are too many teams in this league that leave themselves hung out to dry when their starting quarterback misses time — the 49ers and Bengals, to name a few. The Giants cannot put themselves in that type of position in 2021, which is why they need to acquire the right guy for the job.

So, with that said, who will even be on the market?

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick fills the aforementioned requirements and is very much experienced as both a starter and second-string. He’s additionally serviceable, as we all know. This past season, he led the Dolphins to a 4-3 record as a starter (nine total games played) while completing 68.5% of his throws for 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight picks.

Fitz can certainly lead an offense and win you some games, and if Jones were to miss time, the Giants wouldn’t be in the worst situation with the Harvard alum at quarterback.

Not to mention, Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be expensive. He signed a two-year, $11 million deal with Miami prior to the 2019 season and counted for just $8 million of the Dolphins’ total cap in 2020. His increasing age could also lead to an even cheaper deal and he likely wouldn’t mind moving again, considering he’s already played for eight different teams in 16 seasons.

2. Philip Rivers

This would be a complete “full circle” situation. Obviously, the Giants drafted Philip Rivers in 2004 before trading him to the then-San Diego Chargers for Eli Manning. Him coming to the Giants 17 years after he was originally supposed to would be a hell of a story, to say the least.

But more importantly, having Rivers in the building would be like having Eli all over again (in terms of the mentorship and guidance for Jones). Rivers has had a great deal of success in this league, given his 64.9% lifetime completion rate and top-five all-time placement in both career passing yards and touchdowns (fifth with 63,440 yards and 421 scores).

The issue with Rivers, however, is that it’s unclear if he would want to back someone up in his 18th season. He can definitely still start in this league and led the Colts to a playoff berth this past campaign. Rivers would need to understand that while possibly taking part in some sort of competition in camp, he would primarily be the No. 2 guy.

The potential contract details would be a concern as well. Rivers played for Indianapolis on a one-year, $25 million deal in 2020. Providing that type of cash to a guy who’s supposed to be a backup wouldn’t be ideal, and the Giants definitely wouldn’t be okay doing so.

3. Tyrod Taylor

Tyrod Taylor isn’t completely up there in age (only 31 years old at the moment), but he definitely carries noteworthy experience, having started 47 total games for three different teams. Not to mention, he led the Bills to their first playoff berth in 18 years back in 2017 and was trusted to start as recently as Week 1 of 2020 for the Chargers.

Taylor, as they say, has “been around the block” a few times and could definitely assist in the crucial development of Jones. He may not be as serviceable as some of the other guys on this list (just a 24-21-1 career record when starting) but would likely be more beneficial than someone like McCoy or Alex Tanney.

The one-time Pro Bowler has a career completion rate of 61.4% with 54 touchdown passes and just 20 picks.

4. Joe Flacco

It’s pretty clear Joe Flacco is a backup at this point in his career. The Super Bowl run he led the Ravens on during the 2012 season was memorable, but that part of his NFL tenure has concluded and he’s certainly someone who’s now better off being a mentor in the quarterback room.

Thus, he and the Giants would be a tremendous fit. He would help push Jones in training camp and practice but wouldn’t be a legitimate threat as far as a potential starting competition is concerned.

Flacco can additionally still produce. He completed over half his passes for 864 yards, six touchdowns, three picks, and a 6.4 yards-per-attempt rate in five games for the Jets this past season. The statistics aren’t perfect, but no one expects a backup’s numbers to be sensational.

5. Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Cowboys last offseason and ended up seeing more playing time than was originally expected amid Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury in Week 5. And during his time as a starter, he proved he can still achieve on-field production but probably not to the point where he can succeed as a full-time starter.

But that’s the idea of a potential acquisition of a backup quarterback: signing someone who can at least be serviceable. Dalton could definitely fill that important requirement.

The veteran conjured up a starting record of 4-5 this past season with a 64.9% completion rate, 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight picks. He experienced five multi-touchdown games as well, proving he still has what it takes to put up decent numbers.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.