Geno Smith still envisions himself as a starting quarterback, which is one thing the Giants absolutely don't need. In fact, the Giants don't expect to need one until at least the 2020 season, when Smith will turn 30 and will probably be long gone.
That's why Smith's decision to sign with the Giants -- and to a lesser extent, the Giants' decision to sign Smith -- is so strange. For a player looking for a fresh start, hoping to re-establish his value, and desperate to compete for a starting job, the last thing that makes sense is for him to remain in New York to be the second- or maybe third-stringer behind Eli Manning, who hasn't missed a game in his 13-year NFL career.
Yet here we are, with the 26-year-old ex-Jets quarterback now officially a Giant after he passed his physical on Monday and is expected to sign what the NFL Network says is a one-year, $2 million deal. The Giants also signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson on Friday, so as long as Smith's repaired ACL is strong enough, it'll be a heck of a training camp battle between the two to see who gets to hold Manning's hat.
Smith also drew some interest from the Los Angeles Chargers and the Cleveland Browns, according to a league source, and while neither team was likely to promise him a starting job he surely would've had a better chance to at least compete for one in Cleveland. Also, New York hasn't exactly been kind to him. His two seasons as a Jets starter (2013-14) were mediocre, at best, and many here have questioned his maturity, personality and leadership ability after the infamous locker room fight in 2015 that left him with a broken jaw.
So why sign with the Giants? It makes more sense when looking at it from the Giants' perspective. It never hurts to accumulate talent, and Smith was once a second-round pick. He's also a young player with starting experience, which puts him a notch above plenty of other quarterbacks on the market. And don't forget, he won the Jets quarterback job before his jaw was broken. He also was given another chance last season right before he tore his ACL.
Maybe he eventually figures it all out and the Giants end up with a valuable asset, if not a future starter. If nothing else, if he's able to beat out Johnson for the backup job, the Giants have a player who has started 30 NFL games to step in for Manning if the unthinkable happens and he gets hurt. That makes him a known quanitity. They can be confident that he can go into a game and not be overwhelmed. There's no way to know that with any certainty with a quarterback who has rarely -- or never -- played in an NFL game.
And if it doesn't work out, if Smith is terrible or runs into more trouble in the locker room, the Giants can simply get rid of him and they really haven't risked anything at all.
So for them it makes some sense. But it's hard to see what Smith gets out of this deal. For one thing, there's no guarantee he beats out Johnson, a popular backup who knows the offense and earned respect last season from many people in the organization. For another, barring an unforeseen -- and perhaps unlikely -- injury to Manning, he has no shot to compete for the starting job. As Giants GM Jerry Reese famously said when they drafted quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round in 2013, they surely hope he never plays.
So Smith won't have a chance to reestablish his value, unless teams can somehow be wooed by preseason performances. At best, Smith gets a chance to continue his rehabilitation from his torn ACL and sit in quarterback meetings with Manning. There's value in both of those things.
Seemingly, though, there would've been more value in going somewhere with an actual chance to play.
Maybe he didn't have other options. Maybe he just wanted to stay in New York. Maybe the desire to learn how to be a leader and a starter was more valuable to him than actually getting the chance to do it. Only Smith can answer those questions. For some reason, he considered the Giants his best option.
Only time will tell if that marriage will actually work out.