There's a reason that sources say its "likely" Pat Shurmur will be the Giants' next head coach, instead of saying he'll "definitely" be the guy. For one thing, NFL rules prevent teams from hiring new coaches off teams that are still in the playoffs.
And for another, there are still things that can happen to blow this deal up.
None of them are likely things, and none of them are expected, but everyone knows that nothing is official until a contract is signed. For Shurmur, that could happen as early as Monday or as late as Feb. 5, depending on whether the Minnesota Vikings reach the Super Bowl. In the meantime, minds can be changed. Circumstances can change. The pool of available candidates could even change.
In other words, a lot can happen between now and then.
Like what? Well, here are a few probably unlikely scenarios that could change the Giants' thinking, or perhaps their plans. It's probably 99 percent certain that Shurmur is the Giants' guy and will eventually be offered the job.
But there is still always that pesky 1 percent …
Josh McDaniels could change his mind about the Indianapolis Colts
This is the most likely wrench that could be thrown into the Giants' plans, even if it isn't very likely at all. McDaniels is reportedly the choice in Indianapolis and the Giants have been told, indirectly of course, that McDaniels prefers the Colts job, according to multiple sources. But they still haven't heard it directly from McDaniels. They will likely reach out to him on Monday -- win or lose, the Giants can at least talk to McDaniels and Shurmur next week -- just to be sure.
And if he says "You know what? I've rethought this and I'd rather be in New York," then what? Well, considering he's still high on the Giants' wish list -- one source indicated he would be the preferred candidate if everyone wanted the job -- the Giants braintrust would have to reconvene, and a second interview for both McDaniels and Shurmur wouldn't be out of the question.
If that seems like it would be reneging on a wink-wink deal with Shurmur, multiple sources have reminded that no firm commitments have been made by anyone involved.
Matt Patricia could change his mind about the Detroit Lions
This almost certainly won't happen, given Patricia's long friendship with Lions GM Bob Quinn, a Patriots executive. Even if it did, it's no longer clear that the Giants would prefer him over Shurmur or McDaniels. There seems to be a feeling that after the public outing of Patricia as supposedly the Giants' guy, and then having him choose Detroit instead, revisiting this wouldn't be the best look.
But Patricia did make a strong impression on the Giants and still was part of their group of three finalists. If he does back out on Detroit, it would warrant another conversation among the Giants decision makers -- especially if McDaniels was out of the picture.
Pat Shurmur could change his mind about the Giants and emerge as the guy in Arizona
For the longest time in this search, a few people familiar with Shurmur's thinking insisted he was more interested in the Cardinals job than the Giants' job. They likely based it on his laid-back personality that seemed more of a fit in the quiet West than the noisy Northeast. That changed, apparently, because the Giants job is a better one, given the quarterback situation, the cap room they have, and their high draft pick.
Shurmur also no longer seems to be the front-runner in Arizona, which an NFL source insisted he once was. If he does get cold feet about New York, though, the Cardinals could always revisit him since they haven't moved on to anyone else yet. They actually might try to set up a second interview with him next week if they sense an opportunity -- a big reason why the Giants have to be careful that they don't appear to be considering anyone else.
A surprise candidate could suddenly be on the market (like maybe Mike Tomlin?)
As the Giants' search began, a team source described the field of candidates as "uninspiring." It wasn't that they wouldn't be able to find a great coach so much as there were no real exciting names available. And in the crazy world of the NFL, that could always change in an instant.
For example, earlier this week there was a report that "limited partners" in Pittsburgh were going to try to pressure Steelers owner Art Rooney to oust Mike Tomlin. It's a fool's errand to be sure, but what if it causes enough chaos to actually work? Tomlin would be the most accomplished and best coach on the market by a wide margin, and given the Rooneys ties to the Maras, they surely would help guide Tomlin to the Giants job.
Who else could shake free? Probably no one. There were rumors that John Harbaugh was in trouble in Baltimore, but those seemed to be false. And there are always rumors about a Saints-Sean Payton split -- and the Giants would surely be interested if their former offensive coordinator shook free -- but after an 11-5 season and a playoff win, he seems to be safe, too.
Bill Belichick could actually decide he's had enough in New England and find a way to leave the Patriots
No, this was never really a possibility. It was a tabloid fantasy, fueled by dreamy Giants fans and sparked by an ESPN story about unrest in New England. Belichick almost certainly isn't crazy enough to leave the dynasty he's got going in New England. And Patriots owner Robert Kraft almost certainly isn't dumb enough to leave him an out in his contract so he could leave and coach somewhere else -- somewhere else nearby, even -- next season.
Yes, I said "almost certainly." The only thing keeping this alive is the "you never know" factor. If things are worse in New England than even the ESPN story suggested and Kraft and Belichick have just had enough of each other … well, everything is negotiable then. And if that happens, I've heard and been told for years that the Giants are the only other team Belichick would want to coach.
And yes, there's almost no scenario where the Giants would say no to him if they thought they could actually get him.