Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The fate of Pat Shurmur had been decided weeks before the end of the Giants' season, and everyone - including Shurmur - seemed to know it. The other open secret was that the Giants had one name clearly atop their short list of Shurmur's potential replacements.

And as soon as the season was over, many in the organization figured it was only a matter of time before the Giants hired Matt Rhule.

So yes, it was stunning that eight days after Shurmur was fired, the Giants were negotiating with Joe Judge, the unheralded and virtually unknown special teams coordinator with the New England Patriots, to be their new head coach. The 38-year-old did not begin the search high on the Giants' list, but according to a source familiar with the Giants' thinking, he steadily rose throughout the process.

And everything changed about the search in the final 24-36 hours when Rhule was blown away by a crazy offer from the Carolina Panthers, and Judge wowed Giants brass in his interview hours before. With the Giants' options dwindling, and Mississippi State looking to hire Judge too, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and GM Dave Gettleman decided to take one of the biggest gambles of their NFL careers.

How did Judge end up emerging from a field filled with so many experienced candidates? And how did the Giants decide they were comfortable taking a risk on a young man who had never even been interviewed for a head coaching job before?

 

Here's how it all happened, based on conversations with multiple sources inside the Giants, close to the candidates, and others around the league:

Monday, Dec. 30

Shurmur was officially fired in the morning after the Giants' 4-12 season came to a close. Weeks earlier, according to a team source, the Giants had identified the 44-year-old Rhule as their top target - a coach they had admired since his one year as a Giants assistant (2012).

They had also heard that, despite some reports, Rhule was very interested in joining the Giants. The New York native wasn't wary of working with Gettleman or looking for total control. The only concern, in fact, was whether they'd be able to lure him away from Baylor, where he had a lucrative contract that lasted until 2028 and a situation where he was essentially the football program's king.

What seemed clear at that point was that the Giants wanted a leader and a program-builder. They didn't say publicly that head coaching experience was a must, but privately they said it was a strong preference. Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy was high on their list too, as was Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels - although some in the organization suspected from their interview with McDaniels two years ago that he wanted too much power and wouldn't be a good fit.

Over the next 24 hours, the Giants' interview docket took shape. They got permission to talk with Cowboys passing game coordinator Kris Richard, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale, McDaniels, and Judge. They also set up an interview with McCarthy.

Rhule, meanwhile, had interview requests from the Giants, Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns. He turned the Browns down, then told the Giants and Panthers they had to wait not only until after the Suger Bowl (on Wed., Jan. 1) but until he and his family returned from a weekend trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Tuesday, Dec. 31

This had been in the works for weeks, but on this day the Washington Redskins - who had fired coach Jay Gruden during the season -- hired Ron Rivera to be their next head coach. On the surface it looked like a stunning blow to the Giants, since Gettleman and Rivera worked together in Carolina, and it sure seemed like Rivera had no interest in waiting to see if the Giants job would open up.

One day later, Gettleman would say in a radio interview that he didn't know if he could have hired Rivera: "I just know that before we could turn around, the deal was done."

The Giants had interest in the 58-year-old Rivera, according to a source, but did not consider him to be a priority. Rhule was still their No. 1 choice. They also likely knew, as one source told SNY, "Don't be so sure either one of them want to work with the other again." It wasn't about bad blood or other issues, the source said, just that both seemed to feel it was better to move on.

Whether the Giants would have interviewed Rivera or not is unclear. That point became moot, though, because of how fast the Redskins moved.

Thursday, Jan. 2

The Giants interviewed Richard, whom Gettleman called a "very impressive guy" in a radio interview. Richard is well-regarded around the NFL, but was never thought to be a serious candidate for the Giants' job.

Friday, Jan. 3

McCarthy, the Super Bowl-winning former Packers coach who took Green Bay to the playoffs nine times in his 13 seasons, interviewed with the Giants and apparently left a strong impression. He has worked tirelessly in the past year to rehabilitate his image, which had been tarnished in his final days with the Packers. He's done media features showing how he's stayed involved with the game and updated his approach to coaching.

All that came through in the interview, according to a source. Some in the organization did not think McCarthy would be a strong candidate for the job before he came in. That feeling had changed by the time he left.

Saturday, Jan. 4

The Giants braintrust made the long trip to Kansas City for an interview with Bieniemy and then went to Baltimore to interview Martindale. They seemed impressed by both. Bieniemy is a commanding presence and checked the "leader" box they were looking for in a new coach. Martindale left them with the same feeling, but what really excited some of them was that he told the Giants he wanted to bring LSU assistant Joe Brady with him as his offensive coordinator. Brady, a former New Orleans Saints assistant, spent one year in Baton Rouge and turned quarterback Joe Burrow into a Heisman Trophy winner. The Giants envisioned the kind of magic he could work with young quarterback Daniel Jones.

Some sources said Bieniemy left the stronger impression and others thought it was Martindale. At the time, though, both of them were clearly on the second tier of candidates along with Richard and, seemingly, Judge.

Meanwhile, down in Dallas, the Cowboys still hadn't fired head coach Jason Garrett, but they brought in McCarthy for an interview that ended up spanning two days and included a sleepover at Jerry Jones' house.



Sunday, Jan. 5

Here's where things started to get really interesting …

With the Patriots losing on Saturday night, the Giants set up their interview schedule for the week: Judge on Monday, Rhule on Tuesday, and McDaniels (tentatively) for Wednesday, though there were still doubts he'd even come in for the interview. They also expressed an interest in bringing McCarthy back for a second interview, but by this point he already had an offer from the Dallas Cowboys, which he would eventually take.

In fact, while the McCarthy news doesn't break until Monday morning, the hiring seemed clear on Sunday night when, in the middle of the Philadelphia Eagles playoff game, the Cowboys officially announced the firing of Garrett. As soon as they did, the Giants put in a request for permission to interview him for their head coaching job (which apparently they had to do since he was still under contract until Jan. 14).

Rhule, meanwhile, returned from his Cabo vacation and set his first interview with the Carolina Panthers for Monday in Waco, Tex. He wanted the Giants to come to Waco on Tuesday, but they convinced him to come to New Jersey instead. It's not clear why they pushed for that location, though some speculated they would try not to let Rhule "leave the building" without a deal.

At this point, there were people in the Giants organization who don't think Rhule was a slam dunk to take the job, but their worry seemed to be that he would choose to return to Baylor - not that he'd take the Panthers job.

Monday, Jan. 6

Judge came in for his interview riding a candidacy that had slowly (and quietly) been picking up steam as the Giants did their research, thanks in part to a strong recommendation from Bill Belichick, according to a source. The Giants still revere Belichick and the feeling is mutual. Even though his assistants haven't had great success as NFL head coaches, his words still carry an enormous weight.

And Judge backed up the praise with what one source called a "tremendous" interview. "He blew everyone away," another source said. He still wasn't thought of as a strong candidate outside of the building, but clearly Mara, Gettleman and Tisch felt differently. Any reservations they had, said a source, had to do with his age and inexperience. But they all felt he had the makings of a great coach.

In fact, they were so taken by Judge, according to a source, that they called his agent to tell him how "impressive" he was during his interview.

Still, Rhule appeared to be the favorite, and all eyes were on his interview which was still scheduled for Tuesday. Judge, according to a source, was emerging as a very strong option. What was unclear was whether he was a fallback option or if he was suddenly on equal footing with Rhule.

Tuesday, Jan. 7

Any Judge vs. Rhule competition became moot early Tuesday morning when the Giants got a call from Rhule's agent, informing them that the Carolina Panthers' billionaire owner, David Tepper, had given Rhule an offer he couldn't refuse. It started as a six-year deal worth more than $8 million per year and eventually became a seven-year, $62 million contract. Rhule wanted to see if the Giants - the team a source said he wanted to coach all along - would match.

The Giants, according to a source, asked him to come for his interview on Tuesday so they could talk about it in person. Rhule wanted a more definitive answer, so the Panthers wouldn't be tempted to offer their money to McDaniels - who was scheduled to interview in Carolina on Tuesday - instead. When the Giants said they wouldn't match - both the money and the length were far more than they were willing to offer a first-year NFL head coach, a source said - Rhule took the Carolina job.

One team source described the reaction inside the organization as "stunned" once the news started to get around.

At that point, it sure looked like the Giants were facing dwindling options. At the beginning of the search it seemed like Rhule, McCarthy and McDaniels were the top three on their list. Two were now gone and they had grown convinced they couldn't land the third. But the four-man interview group (Mara, Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams were meeting with the candidates in person, and Tisch was checking in by phone) had fallen in love with Judge and had grown comfortable with the idea of turning to him. But he was also being courted by Mississippi State, his alma mater - and his wife's alma mater, too.

Rather than lose another coveted candidate, the Giants pivoted quickly, offered the job to Judge and cancelled their interviews with Garrett and McDaniels.

Soon after, on a day many thought would be a coronation for Rhule, the stunning news broke and kept coming fast. It looked to the outside world that the Giants panicked, that they were forced to go with Plan C or D after all their preferred choices turned them down.

But inside the organization, there wasn't that feeling at all, a source said. There seemed to be a contentment with their choice. And no one sensed any regrets or concern from the men in charge.

"It doesn't matter how we got here," one source said. "We feel we got the right guy. And I think everyone will be happy in the end."

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Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley

Giants RB Saquon Barkley was ready to take a different approach to his offseason -- that is until the coronavirus pandemic began to shut everything down across the country. 

If it hadn't, Barkley was set to help his alma mater as a coach for the Penn State football team during their spring workouts. 

Penn State head coach James Franklin spoke to the New York Post about Barkley wanting to join his staff, something that he was absolutely a fan of after the Pro Bowl running back reached out. 

Tags: Saquon Barkley, Scott Thompson
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Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley

ESPN released its annual "Football Power Index" for the first time ahead of the 2020 NFL season. It accounts for everything from Vegas Sportbooks' win totals for each team, last season's stats and much more. 

Well, after running through the calculations, Giants fans won't really like where they see their team sitting on the FPI before the start of training camp. 

New York currently comes in at 26, and that's not all. They also have a 12 percent chance of reaching the playoffs this year -- and that's with an extra spot for each conference. Also, the Giants are projected to win 6.1 games this season. 

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Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Giants CB DeAndre Baker was released from jail on bond on May 17 after turning himself in to face charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault. Baker's attorneys maintain their client is innocent.

Click below for the latest...

 

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Time Machine Tuesday returns to 2008, when cameras caught a conversation between Eli Manning and Peyton Manning right after Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants defeated the Patriots.

Tags: Eli Manning
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Eli Manning has recently joined the Twitterverse, and has been an absolute hit right away with his hilarious tweets. But nothing to date compares to what he's been tweeting on Sunday during "Capital One's The Match: Champions for Charity."

Manning's brother, Peyton, has been playing in a golf match with Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady for coronavirus relief, and the entire world is taking the time to watch and donate to a great cause during Memorial Day weekend. Eli is definitely having fun doing so, rooting on his brother and taking shots at his playoff rival in Brady. 

Check out some of his tweets, starting with the first of the day: 

Tags: Eli Manning, Scott Thompson
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Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

It's finally happened.

Eli Manning is on Twitter.

Yes, the two-time Super Bowl champion announced his presence on the social media platform on Saturday afternoon, referencing the movie Hoosiers in his first ever tweet. 

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Over the past three decades, from Eli Manning to Michael Strahan to a variety of others, the Giants have seen plenty of stars come through their doors.

But Big Blue has also had its share of players who may have flown a bit under the radar, putting up strong numbers while not necessarily always becoming a Pro Bowl talent.

Here's our list of 10 of the most underrated Giants of the last 20 years ...

Tags: Damon Harrison, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr.
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Oct 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; National Football League Hall of Fame player Lawrence Taylor talks with fans on the field before the game between his former team the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)
Oct 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; National Football League Hall of Fame player Lawrence Taylor talks with fans on the field before the game between his former team the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)

The Last Dance documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls showed some sides of the legendary basketball player that we might not have known otherwise, with His Airness addressing some of the narratives that were all over the news during his playing days -- good and bad.

One of the bad storylines was his supposed gambling addiction that he tried to nip in the bud, but never had success doing so. Jordan's competitive nature would involve money at times whether it be playing cards with teammates on the plane, or on the golf course -- another big hobby for him outside of basketball.

Well, Giants legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor knows a thing or two about that side of Jordan on the links from their high-stakes golf matches in the past. 

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Jan 24, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning announces his retirement during a press conference at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports (Danielle Parhizkaran)
Jan 24, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning announces his retirement during a press conference at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports (Danielle Parhizkaran)

With the 2020 NFL Draft behind us, CBS Sports decided to rank the No. 1 overall picks of the last 20 years. And Giants fans will love to see who's at the top of the list. 

Eli Manning was atop the throne, coming in as the best first overall draft choice in the 21st century. 

There are some great No. 1 picks who could rival Manning here, but with two Super Bowl MVP's under his belt to go along with other accolades like seventh all-time in passing yards and his 210 consecutive starts that sits third-best in NFL history, it's hard to argue against his ranking. 

Tags: Eli Manning, Scott Thompson
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Daniel Jones/James Bradberry
Daniel Jones/James Bradberry

Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The Giants find themselves with an upgraded roster heading into the 2020 season. GM Dave Gettleman made necessary changes via free agency and the NFL Draft that should have a big effect when the regular season rolls around. 

But there are a few players that stand out above the rest. It isn't just because of their talent, but more importantly, because their production will impact the team in a positive -- or negative -- way. Make or break, if you will. 

Tags: Daniel Jones, Eli Manning, Jabril Peppers, Jon Halapio, Kevin Zeitler, Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, Nate Solder, Oshane Ximines, Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Scott Thompson
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DeAndre Baker's legal situation is still ongoing, but that didn't stop the Giants cornerback from posting a series of workout videos to his Instagram account on Tuesday.

Shortly after Baker pleaded not guilty to all eight of his charges - four counts of aggravated assault and four counts of armed robbery-the second-year cornerback added three videos to his Instagram story, which showed him working out outdoors in South Florida.    

Baker has been told by the Giants to stay away from the team's virtual offseason program for the time being, but it seems like he's continuing to work out on his own. 

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Aug 8, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Bennie Fowler (18) celebrates with quarterback Daniel Jones (8) after catching a touchdown pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports  (Dennis Schneidler)
Aug 8, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Bennie Fowler (18) celebrates with quarterback Daniel Jones (8) after catching a touchdown pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

After his rookie season, the Giants believe that Daniel Jones is their quarterback of the future. Despite having an up-and-down season, one could say some flashes of greatness were seen from the Duke product. 

But there was one moment off the field last season that told former Giants WR Bennie Fowler that Jones truly wanted to be great. 

Fowler recounted that moment during his The Quiet Time Podcast where Jones was the latest special guest. It was Week 5 against the Vikings and Jones suffered his first loss as a starter for Big Blue. He threw for only 185 yards with one touchdown and one interception, as one of the best defenses in the league shut him down. 

Tags: Daniel Jones, Scott Thompson
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Feb 1, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; General overall view of NFL golden shield logo at the NFL Honors show at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; General overall view of NFL golden shield logo at the NFL Honors show at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is already taking precautions in case the coronavirus pandemic impacts the 2020-21 season. It's become an obvious concern because football is a contact sport that can't practice social distancing while on the field. 

Well, the league has been experimenting with a solution to that by partnering with Oakley to develop special facemasks using surgical or N95 material. Thom Mayer, the NFLPA's medical director told ESPN's Adam Schefter during his podcast on Monday about the collaboration.

"Back in early March, I had suggested that we should consider novel and emerging ways to handle the helmets and the facemasks and the spread of the virus," Mayer said. "And these guys, the bioengineers that we use and that the league uses -- Oakley, as you may or may not know, does all the face visors for the league under contract -- these guys got the bit between their teeth." 

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DeAndre Baker
DeAndre Baker

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

DeAndre Baker's attorney believes the Giants cornerback is the victim of a "shakedown" and is being accused of a crime he did not commit. But he also believes Baker has been "scared straight" by this brush with the law, and will come out of this a better man than he was before.

"He's got an opportunity to become the next Ray Lewis and not the next Ray Rice," attorney Patrick G. Patel said in an exclusive interview with SNY late Sunday night. "There's two guys who went in two different directions. I told DeAndre that. And he seems very focused. He's scared straight. I can say that."

The 22-year-old Baker has a long way to go, of course, before anyone sees whether he can reclaim his NFL career as Lewis once did after being accused of murder, or if his career will end the way Rice's did after he was arrested for domestic assault. First, Baker has to deal with the four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault that he was charged with in Broward County, Fla., after an incident on Wednesday night.

Tags: DeAndre Baker, Ralph Vacchiano
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May 3, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants corner back Deandre Baker (35) answers questions from media during rookie minicamp at Quest Diagnostic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
May 3, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants corner back Deandre Baker (35) answers questions from media during rookie minicamp at Quest Diagnostic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Giants CB DeAndre Baker was told to stay away from the meetings so he can "focus on his legal issues" after being released from jail on bond, a source familiar with the team's thinking told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

Baker, who is facing four charges of armed robbery and four charges of aggravated assault, was released on bond at $200,000 ($25,000 on each count), after a ruling by a Florida judge on Sunday morning.

As conditions of his release, Baker will be required to surrender his carry permit and firearm. Additionally, he will not be allowed to have any contact with the alleged victims in the case. The state asked for no bond.

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DeAndre Baker
DeAndre Baker

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

DeAndre Baker is in a lot of trouble and is facing an uncertain future, to say the least. His NFL career is obviously hanging by a thread. His freedom is in serious jeopardy, too.

The announcement by the Miramar (Fla.) Police Department on Thursday that they had issued an arrest warrant for the Giants cornerback was just the beginning of what could be a long and painful process for the 22-year-old former first-round pick, who turned himself in to police on Saturday morning.

Here, with the help of some legal and NFL sources, is a look at what Baker is facing and what comes next:

Tags: DeAndre Baker, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nov 4, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer (12) celebrates a touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Nov 4, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer (12) celebrates a touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

As the legal situation for cornerback DeAndre Baker continues to unfold, a former Giant has now also had a run-in with the law. 

Per the Douglas County Sheriff's Department in Colorado, former Giants receiver Cody Latimer was arrested and charged with assault in the second degree, menacing and illegal discharge of a firearm. 

Police say deputies responded to a call of shots being fired at an apartment complex after an argument had been heard taking place very early on Saturday morning.

Tags: Cody Latimer, DeAndre Baker
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Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

DeAndre Baker's lawyer issued a statement via his Instagram account on Friday evening, saying he believes the Giants cornerback is "innocent of any charges."

"We understand that the officers can only base warrants on what was told to them at the time. We have had affidavits from several witnesses that also dispute the allegations and exculpate our client," attorney Bradford Cohen said in an Instagram post about Baker. "Our investigator has had them for some time. We would have rather presented them to the court at the proper time, rather than in the media, but in this day and age, people rush to judgement.

"Where some seek publicity, we seek justice. I look forward to moving this case forward to proper conclusion, as we believe our client is innocent of any charges."

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Giants GM Dave Gettleman
Giants GM Dave Gettleman

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Some more questions, and some more answers, in the latest edition of my SNY Giants mailbag:


Did you hear anything about the Giants trying to get Warford, Clowney, Ngakoue or anybody on the free agent market? -- @sld150

Sure, let's start with all the big names. And the answers are no, no, no, and not really.

I get that everyone loves the big names and wants their team to throw their money around. And sure, guard Larry Warford, edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, or edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue would make the Giants better. But at what cost? Worford reportedly wants a contract worth more than $7 million per year? Clowney was seeking $18 million per year at last check. And Ngakoue is going to want well over $100 million in a long-term contract, and that's after trading for him which probably will cost at least the Giants' first-round pick in 2021, plus a lot more.

Tags: DeAndre Baker, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Ralph Vacchiano
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On Thursday evening, news broke that an arrest warrant has been issued for Giants corner DeAndre Baker, who faces four counts of armed robbery and aggravated assault.

While the legal situation continues to unfold, what is the next move for Big Blue? The FNNY crew breaks down the team's options ...

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Jan 19, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan (26) runs onto the field before the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)
Jan 19, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan (26) runs onto the field before the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There is likely a long way to go before this DeAndre Baker mess plays out, but there's no doubt he is in a whole lot of trouble. The crimes he's accused of -- four counts of armed robbery, four counts of aggravated assault -- are serious. In Florida, armed robbery with a semiautomatic weapon carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in jail per count.

And even if he pleads his way down from that and doesn't spend the next 60 years in prison, an NFL suspension surely looms.

It's always hard to predict the time frame of how the legal process will play out or when the NFL will weigh in, but given the awful details in the arrest warrant that was released on Thursday night -- such as witnesses saying Baker ordered an accomplice to shoot his robbery victims -- it's hard to imagine the NFL will let him back on the field anytime soon, if ever. Even if they don't suspend him right away, he seems likely to land on the "Commissioner's exempt list" at the start of the year.

Tags: Corey Ballentine, DeAndre Baker, Eli Apple, Julian Love, Sam Beal, Ralph Vacchiano
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Dec 15, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A general view of MetLife Stadium prior to the game between the Houston Texans and the New York Jets. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports  (Kirby Lee)
Dec 15, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A general view of MetLife Stadium prior to the game between the Houston Texans and the New York Jets. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Kirby Lee)

Eight days after the NFL announced the 2020 regular season schedule, the Giants have announced their preseason schedule. 

The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Aug. 13 at Jets, 7:30 p.m.

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Every coach talks about the character of his players and, more importantly, the culture of his locker room, and Joe Judge has been no exception. Actually, what the new Giants coach said he wants to build is a "winning culture." Pro sports teams want the best players, not necessarily the best men.

Still, there are moments when the player intersects with the man and the results are frightening for everyone. When that happens, it can put the most well-intentioned coach to the test. Such was the case on Thursday night with Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, when news broke that a warrant had been issued for his arrest in Miramar, Fla., for four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. He and Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar allegedly robbed four people of thousands of dollars in cash and expensive watches.

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Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Sep 22, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

An arrest warrant has been issued for Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker.

Baker is facing four charges of armed robbery and four charges of aggravated assault, stemming from an incident at a party in Florida on late Wednesday/early Thursday. 

Per the warrant, Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar (who is also facing four counts of armed robbery), were partying in Miramar, Fla. on Wednesday when an argument broke out. Pointing a semi-automatic weapon, Baker allegedly directed Dunbar and two others to take money and valuables from the others in attendance. 

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Oct 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of a New York Giants helmet on the turf before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
Oct 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of a New York Giants helmet on the turf before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

The Giants rookies have been given their jersey numbers for the 2020 NFL season, and while most of them have no meaning, fifth-round pick Shane Lemieux's number is an ode to one of the best to ever play... in the NHL. 

Coming out of Oregon, Lemieux is the first player drafted to ever sport his last name in the NFL. So it was only right that the Giants gave him No. 66 to honor NHL Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux. The Pittsburgh Penguins legend is extremely famous for his No. 66 sweater while on the ice. 

Other than Lemieux, first-round choice Andrew Thomas will be donning No. 78 to start off his career. There's no real history behind the number with Greg Bishop having played tackle for the Giants as well from 1995-98. Also, second-round pick Xavier McKinney will be wearing No. 29. 

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Compared to this time last year, this is a very different offseason for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.

For one thing, Jones is now established as the Giants' full-time starter after taking over for the now-retired Eli Manning. Combine that with the fact that the 22-year-old has to learn a completely new offense, while doing so remotely for now amid the coronavirus pandemic, and there's certainly a lot on the Duke product's plate.

But Jones, speaking to reporters via a Zoom call on Wednesday, explained that he's doing all that he can to take things in stride as he learns new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's system.

Tags: Daniel Jones, Eli Manning
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Jul 25, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) and quarterback Daniel Jones (8) look on during the first day of training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)
Jul 25, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) and quarterback Daniel Jones (8) look on during the first day of training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

These Zoom meetings that NFL teams are going through can be stressful. It's an entirely different way of learning.

But for someone as competitive as Giants RB Saquon Barkley, it's an opportunity to challenge himself. And that isn't by just learning the new playbook under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

Barkley took initiative last season to become a leader in the locker room despite it only being his second year in the league. He proved his worth as the Offensive Rookie of the Year who quickly became the focal point of the Giants' offense. 

Tags: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Scott Thompson
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Daniel Jones/Eli Manning (Jerome Miron)
Daniel Jones/Eli Manning (Jerome Miron)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Daniel Jones is not quite ready to say the Giants are his team, especially since his new coach wouldn't even say his name publicly for the first four months. But the reality is, it became his team the moment that Eli Manning retired.

Even Manning admitted as much when he said on the radio last week that it should be "easier this year for (Jones) to step up as that leader. Last year, it was probably awkward for him (with) me being there."

Now Jones concedes that was probably true.

Tags: Daniel Jones, Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When Christian McCaffrey signed his eye-popping, four-year, $64 million contract extension with the Carolina Panthers last month, many in the New York area had the same reaction:

Saquon's next.

Tags: Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Joe Judge's first offseason as Giants head coach has coincided with perhaps the most unique offseason the NFL has ever endured. 

As the cononavirus pandemic continues to keep team facilities closed, Judge and his brand new coaching staff must do their best to teach and get to know their players remotely via video meetings.

Judge is tasked with implementing a brand new scheme, as well as a new culture, to this Giants team, and while there hasn't been any in-person instruction yet, Judge and company are teaching the foundation of each side of the football as best they can.

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Giants head coach Joe Judge speaks at the NFL Combine
Giants head coach Joe Judge speaks at the NFL Combine

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Joe Judge is still holding out hope that Giants training camp will begin on time in late July at the team's facility in East Rutherford, N.J. But the longer this pandemic goes on, the less certain that seems.

So yes, contingency plans are being investigated. 

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Jan 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Introductory press conference of New York Giants new head coach Joe Judge at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports (Danielle Parhizkaran)
Jan 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Introductory press conference of New York Giants new head coach Joe Judge at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports (Danielle Parhizkaran)

Giants head coach Joe Judge didn't have this in mind for his first rookie minicamp in his new position in New York, but the video conferencing that occurred last week for the team went much better than expected. 

All draft picks for the Giants were introduced to the organization in every way except stepping foot in the East Rutherford, N.J. facility. Still, Judge and his coaches got a great feel for how the rookies have been working while getting acclimated to their new NFL life -- even if it isn't the exact way they dreamed it would be. 

"I am very pleased with how they have been working," Judge said on MSG 150 at Home. "We had our rookie minicamp last week, which was really our first exposure as an entire organization to them and them to us in terms of laying out our expectations and what we're going to demand from them."

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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The offseason roster-building is over, for the most part. What you currently see with your favorite NFL team is likely what you're going to get.

So what will you get in the NFC East in 2020? And how do the Giants stack up?

Here, with the help of some NFL sources, is a look at what and how those teams did, and what their outlook is for the (hopefully) upcoming season. They are listed in my projected order of finish in the NFC East:

Tags: Daniel Jones, DeAndre Baker, Jabril Peppers, Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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Nov 10, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 10, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The Giants and Steelers play on Monday Night Football in Week 1 as they kick off their respective 2020 seasons. And players from both sides are already talking some mild smack.

Things started innocently when Golden Tate tweeted his excitement for the matchup.

Steelers receiver Chase Claypool then quote tweeted Tate with a prediction.

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Joe Judge/Nick Saban
Joe Judge/Nick Saban

Giants head coach Joe Judge continues to prepare for his first season leading an NFL team in these unique circumstances. And while some first-year coaches might be struggling to kick off their program the way they want, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who had Judge under his wing for a few seasons before he coached in the league, thinks his former pupil is going to be just fine. 

Saban saw how well prepared Judge was even as an assistant in his Crimson Tide system. So he isn't too surprised to hear that Judge said the team that is the most prepared during these tough times will have an advantage when the season starts. 

"When Joe was here, he was a young guy, very bright, enthusiastic, great teacher, really good relationships with the players, had lots of leadership qualities about him because of the example that he set and the energy and the enthusiasm he had on a daily basis," Saban told Giants Huddlethe team's official podcast. "And he was really smart. He had a good understanding of football. So no surprise to me that Joe has gotten to this point in his career, and we certainly wish him well. He did a fantastic job here for us."

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The Giants got a steal when they selected Alabama S Xavier McKinney with the fourth pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Most experts had McKinney as a first-round talent, but because of the plethora of offensive linemen and receivers in the draft, he stayed on the board after Day 1. 

But that didn't last long on Friday, when Big Blue finally gave McKinney his NFL home. And his former head coach Nick Saban knows his former pupil is going to make the best of his situation in New York. 

"Normally, statistically, there are two safeties picked in the first round if you look at historical data," Saban told Giants Huddle, the team's official podcast. "So he should have been a first-round pick based on historical information. And certainly as a player, I think most people had him graded there.

Tags: Jabril Peppers, Scott Thompson
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Aug 16, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Alex Tanney (3) throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Aug 16, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Alex Tanney (3) throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

With Eli Manning officially hanging up his cleats, Daniel Jones has been given the keys to the Giants franchise, so to speak, as the team hopes that he will be the leader of the offense for years to come. 

But there's another member of the Giants' quarterbacks room who has apparently played a huge role in Jones' development, and now the young quarterback could be on the verge of losing another mentor.

Veteran Alex Tanney has been a key figure in Jones' development. In fact, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post was told as much by "a longtime NFL offensive assistant who was interested in a position with the Giants this offseason."

Tags: Eli Manning
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Dec 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) stiff arms Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Dec 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) stiff arms Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

So many questions … Here are a few more you asked me in this week's edition of the SNY Giants mailbag:


Which NFC East team is going to be the Giants biggest hurdle in winning the division and why? -- @AlbiRightBack

Even though the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East last year, I kept thinking the Dallas Cowboys were the best team in the division. I mean, they had the NFL's top-ranked offense and a Top 10 defense and they still finished 8-8? That's some pretty bad coaching, and basically the reason why Jason Garrett (now the Giants offensive coordinator) was fired.

Tags: Saquon Barkley, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs a route as Dallas Cowboys safety Byron Jones (31) defends during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman) (Roger Steinman/AP)
New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs a route as Dallas Cowboys safety Byron Jones (31) defends during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman) (Roger Steinman/AP)

Brandon Marshall played only five games with the Giants during one injury-riddled season in 2017, but he was not shy Thursday while making critical comments about his former team.

When asked if he thought the Giants were a well-run organization, Marshall said "I did not."

"I think they're great people, I think they're a great organization, but I don't think they're disruptive enough," Marshall said during an appearance on The Herd on FS1. "There are a few organizations like the Chicago Bears, the New York Giants, even the Pittsburgh Steelers, where it's all about history. They don't want to change certain things. They want a certain guy, and I think that puts them in a box when the game is changing every year; when the culture of the kid is changing every year. When the culture of the coach is changing every year.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Landon Collins, Odell Beckham Jr., Danny Abriano
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Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

If you're looking for reason to be hopeful about the Giants this season, look no further than their schedule. Their opponents had a record of 123-132-1 in 2019 (a .482 winning percentage). Only four of them made the playoffs.

They will be playing one of the easiest schedules in the league … at least once they get through a brutal first five games.

Of course, things can change. Surprise teams can emerge. Injuries can occur that can change the outlook of a matchup. And timing, as they say, is everything. But now that we know the (planned) order of games, here's a look at all the matchups and how the Giants should do:

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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The 2020 NFL season schedule is finally here. 

After a 4-12 season last year, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and the rest of the Giants are looking to take a step forward in 2020 under first-year head coach Joe Judge.

Here's a look at the Giants' 2020 schedule ...

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Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; 
		New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) warms up as head coach Pat Shurmur walks past before the game against the Packers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)
Dec 1, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) warms up as head coach Pat Shurmur walks past before the game against the Packers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)

Giants QB Daniel Jones went through ups and downs last season, as one might expect from a rookie leading an NFL team for the first time. However, Jones showed flashes of great quarterback play and the ability to play gritty, hard-nosed football that leads to wins. That's exactly what the Giants, and its fanbase, wanted to see. 

As Year 2 approaches, Jones taking a leap forward is a big priority. But can it be big enough to take over New York City and emerge as a true star in the league? 

That's what NFL Network's Peter Schrager thinks Jones is capable of in 2020, as he said on Good Morning Football that he has the skill and personality to become the New York's pride and joy. 

Tags: Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Scott Thompson
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Oct 27, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Tae Crowder (30) during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Oct 27, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Tae Crowder (30) during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Moments after the Giants called to make Tae Crowder's NFL dreams come true, the 23-year-old linebacker got a call from a woman he didn't know. She offered to make the rest of his dreams come true - dreams he may have never considered. Whatever Crowder wanted, she said, she could make it happen.

Crowder said he wanted pancakes.

So he will get pancakes. Lots of them. As many flavors and styles as the cooks can imagine. Melanie Fitch will make it happen because she, her father Paul, and her army of volunteers, have been doing that for the last pick in the NFL Draft for 45 years. This year, that's Crowder, the 255th and final pick of the 2020 draft. He's "Mr. Irrelevant."

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Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley

The amount of young talent that is flourishing in the NFL at the moment is extremely fun to watch. Take Patrick Mahomes winning his first Super Bowl last season and taking home the MVP award the season prior, or Lamar Jackson securing an MVP himself in just his second year in the league. 

Also among them is Saquon Barkley, the Giants running back who is arguably the best at his position in the game. 

But where does No. 26 fall among the young superstars?

Tags: Saquon Barkley, Scott Thompson
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Oct 7, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (24) reacts to a pass break up in the third quarter against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (Jeremy Brevard)
Oct 7, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (24) reacts to a pass break up in the third quarter against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (Jeremy Brevard)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, new Giants top cornerback James Bradberry hasn't been able to make his way up north from Charlotte to settle into his new tri-state area home. 

Luckily for him, though, there's another Giant in the Charlotte area: QB Daniel Jones

During an Instagram Live with the Giants' Madelyn Burke, Bradberry spoke about how he's linked up with Jones -- at a safe distance of course -- to talk about the Giants and get to know one another. Jones has been staying back home with his family.

Tags: Daniel Jones, Scott Thompson
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August 17, 2019; Honolulu, HI, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (7) during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)
August 17, 2019; Honolulu, HI, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (7) during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)

The Giants added some more depth to their quarterback room on Tuesday, claiming former Dallas Cowboys backup Cooper Rush off waivers. 

To make room for Rush on the roster, the Giants waived WR Reggie White Jr.

Rush, 26, was originally signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in May 2017. In three seasons with the Cowboys, Rush appeared in just five games while only throwing three passes. Rush has been the team's backup to Dak Prescott, who has never missed a game in his four NFL seasons. 

Tags: Daniel Jones
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 (Jeff Hanisch)
(Jeff Hanisch)

Eli Manning might not be preparing for the upcoming season, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been keeping up with what's been going on in the NFL. 

Two of his fellow quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are currently going through some big changes, and Manning is fully aware of them. But if there is one he can give his two cents on, it certainly is what happened during the 2020 NFL Draft with Green Bay. 

Rodgers saw the Packers take QB Jordan Love after trading up in the first round, and that pick was a total shocker. The Packers went 13-3 last season and Rodgers is still playing elite-level football under center. 

Tags: Daniel Jones, Eli Manning, Scott Thompson
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Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow

As a former No. 1 overall pick himself, Eli Manning knows exactly what Bengals QB Joe Burrow is currently going through. 

After an incredible 2019 season that saw a Heisman Trophy and national championship title come his way, Burrow was the presumptive first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to Cincinnati the second the college season ended. The Bengals made that official on Draft Day, and with that selection, the Ohio native remained in his home state to lead a broken franchise back to the playoffs.

That, of course, is the burden Burrow holds as the first overall pick, and his play this upcoming season will have tons of eyes on it to see if he can hit the ground running in his NFL career. Manning knows all about that pressure of being the great hope for a franchise desperate to win again.

Tags: Eli Manning, Scott Thompson
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Oct 6, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) and quarterback Eli Manning (10) during warm up before game against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Oct 6, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) and quarterback Eli Manning (10) during warm up before game against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

While the Giants are doing the best they can to gear up for next season, Eli Manning doesn't have to worry about that.

For the first time in a very long time, the retired quarterback isn't worried about studying film, what he needs to improve on, what new offensive schemes he needs to learn, or anything football at all. 

It's Manning's first offseason in retirement after 16 years of leading the Giants at quarterback, so football isn't top of mind right now. For his successor Daniel Jones, though, it certainly is as he looks to learn a new offense with new coordinator Jason Garrett aboard. 

And Manning explained why he thinks the Giants are in good hands with Jones at the helm.

Tags: Daniel Jones, Eli Manning, Scott Thompson
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