daniel jones giants
Tim Heitman | USA TODAY Sports

The Giants will not be in the market for a quarterback during next week’s NFL draft. But every move they do — or don’t — make will be framed with the belief they will be in the quarterback business next year.

Everyone says they’re all-in on Daniel Jones, but it’s hard to take all the happy talk seriously. Jones has not shown much since his rookie season. And while the Giants’ recent struggles have not been solely his fault, a franchise quarterback needs to be the rising tide that lifts all boats.

Jones will get one last chance in 2022. But barring a stunning rise, the Giants figure to muddle through this coming season before general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll get their guy in 2023. And there is a good chance they will lay the groundwork for that process during this upcoming draft and attempt to trade back for future capital.

Who will be the Giants’ starting quarterback next year? Here is our early, but by no means exhaustive, rundown of candidates:

Daniel Jones. The Giants have said all the right things about their incumbent this offseason. But talk is cheap if they don’t pick up his fifth-year option. The deck still feels stacked against Jones. Betting on an injury- and turnover-prone quarterback to suddenly put it all together in Year 4 with a bad supporting cast is unlikely to pay off. But he’s in the job now and he has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, so he has a puncher’s chance to take advantage. 

Tyrod Taylor. Taylor may be the best bet if you have to wager on the Giants’ Week 1 starter next season. Bad teams don’t give a backup of his experience and quality a two-year deal with significant guaranteed money and playing time incentives if they aren’t thinking ahead. Taylor may end up as the bridge quarterback in 2023 after the Giants move on from Jones and draft a rookie.

Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers want to trade Garoppolo, who is in the final year of his deal. But his offseason shoulder surgery has frozen his market so far. Niners general manager John Lynch has indicated he would rather keep Garoppolo on the roster as Trey Lance’s backup than cut him without getting anything in return.

The Giants aren’t in the Jimmy G market now. But if he stays with the Niners, they could get two cracks at him: A trade deadline deal or free agency. Garoppolo has his limitations, but he’s also 33-14 as a starter with a 98.9 career QB rating and has started a Super Bowl and two NFC title games. He’s better than Jones in the right situation and he shares Patriots ties with Daboll.

Tom Brady. Please work with us for a moment. Brady will be a free agent after this season and the Buccaneers cannot use the franchise tag on him. There are too many optical and practical obstacles to the Miami Conspiracy Plan working the second time around. The Sean Payton thing also does not entirely add up; the easiest way for Brady and Payton to join forces would have been with the Saints in 2023. This brings us to the long shot of long shots.

We know Brady and Daboll have a relationship and the Giants will have plenty of cap space next offseason. Schoen has a great draft and a promising young core emerges this fall. Could they sell Brady — who still has a residence in Manhattan — on a quick 2-3 year sprint with a supporting cast built through free agency? And before you say the Giants wouldn’t go that route, remember this team hasn’t won anything in a decade and has had four head coaches in six years. It’s not going to happen, but it’s fun to imagine.

C.J. Stroud. The Ohio State star will enter 2022 as the Heisman Trophy favorite and the projected top pick in 2023.

Bryce Young. Young won the Heisman Trophy last season and led Alabama to the national title game. If he’s not the No. 1 overall pick, he figures to be No. 2.

Phil Jurkovec. Let’s say the Giants are bad, but not bad enough to get to Stroud or Young (even with a trade-up). Enter Jurkovec, a 6-foot-5 kid from western Pennsylvania with all the required physical tools who has played at Notre Dame AND Boston College. How are the Maras going to pass up that profile?

If Jurkovec has a big season for BC, he will be a first-round pick. And Jurkovec is set up to have one with a good supporting cast, an excellent offensive coordinator (John McNulty) and some marquee matchups (Clemson, Notre Dame, Wake Forest). In the end, he may end up being the most-realistic draft target for the Giants.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.