There were rumors throughout the off-season that the New York Giants could have been a possible trade destination for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Those rumors died down when little concrete confirmation surfaced and the Seattle Seahawks ultimately traded Wilson to the Denver Broncos on March 8th. Giants fans moved on to the 2022 NFL Draft and speculation on how Joe Schoen would use the second-most draft capital in the NFL.
Thursday morning, on the eve of the 2022 regular season, we finally got confirmation that the Giants were indeed interested in trading for Wilson. That confirmation was buried in a piece by Brady Henderson for ESPN, detailing how the trade between Seattle and Denver came about.
Henderson wrote that once Seattle made it clear that Wilson was available, they received calls from the New Orleans Saints, Washington Commanders, and (notably for us), the Giants. Henderson also makes it clear that the Seahawks weren’t terribly interested in dealing with the Giants. Wilson, he wrote, had his heart set on the Broncos. Given Denver’s impressive offensive personnel, it isn’t hard to see why.
“The Seahawks received calls from the Broncos and several other teams, including the Saints, New York Giants and Washington Commanders. They knew Wilson wanted Denver, according to a front-office source, but kept New Orleans involved in the bidding so the Broncos would have to compete against another offer.”
Henderson also writes that Seahawks’ GM John Schneider favored the Seahawks because he wanted quarterback Drew Lock back in return.
“Schneider later apologized to the Saints and other teams who had called, having told them they weren’t trading Wilson. Denver was Wilson’s only option and Schneider’s preferred choice, because Drew Lock was the quarterback Schneider wanted in return.”
But while the Giants are just a footnote in Henderson’s piece, their interest in Wilson is definitely significant from our perspective.
Trading for a quarterback of Wilson’s stature would have been an incredible opening move by new GM Joe Schoen. Not only would the trade package have to be massive, but the cap implications would have been far-reaching.
It took two first round picks, two second round picks, a fifth round pick, TE Noah Fant, DE Shelby Harris, and the aforementioned QB Drew Lock to bring Wilson (and a fourth round pick) to Denver.
The Giants certainly had the draft capital to get that deal done, but they would have been hard-pressed to absorb Wilson’s $24 million cap hit in 2022.
But nevertheless, the Giants reportedly made the call.
Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka, and Wink Martindale all know the importance of great quarterback play. Collectively, they’ve been around three of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson. Schoen and Daboll are the Giants’ third GM and fourth head coach in the last five years, and they have to know that John Mara’s patience don’t last long when he feels his team is being embarrassed.
And while the Giants have expressed support for Daniel Jones, the call suggests that they think an upgrade is possible. Wilson’s 2021 thumb injury aside, Wilson remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and would be an upgrade for a lot of teams. But it’s also notable that the Giants’ new regime were willing to swing for the fences.
The call to Seattle is also notable in the context of Schoen’s trip to personally scout Ohio State’s game against Notre Dame in Week 1 of the college football season. The Giants might be giving Jones the 2022 season to prove himself, but the new regime isn’t as wedded to him as John Mara might be.
The revelation that the Giants were in on Wilson doesn’t change anything this season. But it is more evidence that the pressure is on Jones this season. One of Schoen’s first moves was to enquire about a blockbuster quarterback trade, and later that spring he declined Jones’ fifth-year option. His first scouting trip as the Giants’ GM was to a major game featuring the quarterback who is widely reckoned to be the best in the country in C.J. Stroud. The Giants are by no means “over” Daniel Jones, but we’re starting to get an idea of the standards the new regime has set for quarterback play.