The Tennessee Titans fired their head coach, Mike Mularkey, on Monday morning. And when they did, the Giants' search for a new head coach got a little more complicated.
It's not just that another team is now shopping on what appears to be a limited market of candidates. It's that the Titans and Giants could be shopping in the same aisle. The Titans have long been rumored to be a potential landing spot for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels - who of course is one of the final three (or really two) finalists on the Giants' list.
The Giants, to review, narrowed their list to three finalists last week - McDaniels, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. And Patricia, according to multiple reports, is expected to become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions instead.
Shurmur is also the leading candidate in Arizona, according to a league source. McDaniels was reportedly expected to take the Indianapolis Colts job, though a team source told SNY on Sunday that McDaniels shouldn't be ruled out for the Giants job just yet.
Now, though, the Titans have entered the picture - one week after issuing a statement basically promising that Mularkey wouldn't be fired. The Titans were even discussing a contract extension with Mularkey, but team owner Amy Adams Strunk said "in those discussions about the direction of the team it became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success."
Titans GM Jon Robinson is a "big fan" of McDaniels, according to CBS Sports, which is why so many believe McDaniels could be the choice in Tennessee.
Of course, neither McDaniels, Shurmur, nor Patricia are immediately available since the Patriots and Vikings will play in their respective conference championship games next Sunday. So, the five teams in the mix for them - the Lions, Giants, Colts, Titans and Cardinals - are in a holding pattern, unable to officially strike any deals until after those teams are eliminated from the playoffs.
If they make the Super Bowl, there would be a window early next week for any team wishing to conduct a second interview with a candidate. But that wouldn't apply to the Titans because they haven't done any first interviews yet.
So if McDaniels is interested in the Titans, he may not take any second interviews at all -- and with the Patriots big favorites to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship, that means he could hold all his cards until after Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.
If the Titans, Giants and Colts - all of whom seem to have McDaniels high on their list -- don't want to wait that long for him, they certainly could move on to other candidates. For the Giants, that could mean a second interview with Shurmur next week, or perhaps making him an offer if the Vikings lose to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship on Sunday. They also could decide to end the waiting and uncertainty, and hire Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who is available immediately.
Beyond that, their options are limited. It does not appear that interim coach Steve Spagnuolo or former Broncos assistant Eric Studesville - the two other coaches the Giants interviewed - are being seriously considered as possibilities. The Giants did request permission to interview Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and could circle back to him, but he's unavailable until the Eagles season is over.
So unless the Giants have a secret, unknown candidate up their sleeves, their choices seem to be to wait out McDaniels and Shurmur, while attempting to get some sort of commitment from one of them through back channels, or to hire Wilks. If they move to Wilks, that could happen in the next 24 hours. If not, the wait for a new head coach could drag on for another three weeks.