John Mara finally admitted the obvious last week when he conceded the Giants' problems run deeper than he and his front office anticipated. He didn't use the word "rebuilding." But he did say "I'm not sure it will be a quick fix."
No it won't be -- not with a team filled with bloated contracts, saddled with a 37-year-old quarterback, and having won just 4-of-its-last-23 games. It could be a painful, long and probably difficult process.
But at least they're finally doing the right thing now.
That's the bright side of this fire sale that has begun at the Meadowlands, with the trading of cornerback Eli Apple and defensive tackle Damon Harrison. It is an admission that Mara and GM Dave Gettleman made a huge mistake last winter when they looked at their roster and somehow saw the makings of a contender.
That noble, but misguided belief turned this into a wasted year. And who knows how far they'll be set back, considering they still don't have a quarterback of the future? But at least they're not making everything exponentially worse by doubling down on their win-now fantasy.
Because really, it would've been easy for Gettleman and Mara to do that, given everything they invested into that cause. They gave up two draft picks for linebacker Alec Ogletree, spent $62 million on left tackle Nate Solder, and threw good money at questionable players like guard Patrick Omameh and running back Jonathan Stewart. Even drafting Saquon Barkley over Sam Darnold was something of a win-now move.
They were "all in" with their belief they had enough to build a winner around Manning, and that he had enough left to carry their team. And it has to be hard to give up on that plan just seven games later. But they're doing it because they now see clearly what they should have seen 10 months ago - that this team just isn't good.
There are good pieces - like receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Barkley and safety Landon Collins, for starters - but those building blocks are surrounded by far too many holes.
There are obvious reasons for that, of course - reasons Gettleman and Mara should have seen. Years of bad drafting under former GM Jerry Reese left the roster far too thin at key positions. That, of course, led to Reese's $200 million offseason spending spree in 2016, when he brought in cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive linemen Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon.
It worked. The Giants went 11-5 that season. But even then everyone understood that a few years later those contracts would cause salary cap trouble, and look bloated as those players started to get older.
That was a Band-aid solution to a wound that ran deeper than the Giants were willing to admit. And the same was true of what Gettleman did this offseason when, because of limited resources, had to triage the Giants' problems in the hope of patching enough holes for one last championship run.
Overspending in free agency, though, has always been a terrible way to build an NFL team. Good teams build themselves a strong base through the draft, and use free agency in a limited fashion to plug in holes. And that's what Gettleman is attempting to re-start now, dumping players who don't have a long-term future with the team in an attempt to stockpile draft picks and create a little bit of salary cap room, too.
That's why he was so willing to deal Apple (to New Orleans for fourth- and seventh-round picks) and Harrison (to Detroit for a fifth). He is cleaning house of Jerry Reese's overrated draft picks and misguided contracts, while acquiring draft picks and cap space so he can start over. It's why high-priced veterans like Vernon and Jenkins, and even some young players like Collins won't feel very safe over the next few days.
Because more change is coming. Multiple NFL sources have made it clear the Giants are open for business, and more trades are anticipated in the next few days. After that, don't be surprised to see lineup changes as Gettleman and Pat Shurmur start taking a look at younger players down the stretch, too.
And yes, that almost certainly includes quarterback Kyle Lauletta, their fourth-round pick out of Richmond. The Giants don't want to repeat their biggest mistake from last year when they never got a look at the young quarterback on their roster. Just don't expect it until the Giants are mathematically eliminated. As bad as this season is - and it's bad - the Giants are still just 3 ½ games out of the NFC East lead with nine games to play. So figure they'll get Lauletta into a game sometime in December.
Of course, the offseason figures to bring even more upheaval. The Giants will very likely be in position to draft their next franchise quarterback (possibly first overall) unless they decide they're comfortable with Lauletta. And February will provide Gettleman another opportunity to shed some of the bloated contracts and overrated players that Reese left behind.
Maybe one offseason won't be enough, but at least they're finally headed in the right direction with the right approach towards getting out of their miserable run. That's much better than staring at what they have and deluding themselves into believing they have a contender.
They don't. And maybe it's a year too late, but at least they can see that clearly now.