A few weeks ago, when talking about the future of the Giants, a team executive was asked to name the one thing this current group was so desperately missing. The answer came quickly: "Michael Strahan," he said.
"We don't have a Strahan who can put pressure on the quarterback," he said, before adding "Yet."
The implication was pretty clear. Finding a premiere pass rusher was going to be the Giants' most important offseason task.
But on Sunday, that task got a lot harder. The cost of the Giants' 41-35 overtime victory in Washington, so late in this miserable season, was very likely their shot at the closest thing to Strahan in the 2020 NFL draft. Ohio State's Chase Young has had NFL scouts drooling all season. He's the consensus best pass rusher available, if not the best player overall.
He is almost certainly going to be the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, assuming the Cincinnati Bengals take a quarterback at No. 1. And unfortunately for the Giants, their loss gave the Redskins the inside track to take him.
So the Giants could still see a lot of Young in the future. He'll just be wearing a maroon and gold uniform and chasing Daniel Jones.
Of course, embattled Giants coach Pat Shurmur said, "Coaches don't think like that." And he's right. Like the players on the field, all they wanted to do on Sunday was win. The truth is, the same can be said of co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and GM Dave Gettleman. It's not that they didn't want the best pass rusher available.
It's just that they wanted to win more.
That's understandable and noble, and probably more than a few fans got caught up in the excitement on Sunday too, even if they regretted it later when they checked the updated draft order. But it does still present a lingering problem for the Giants with no easy solution. Right now the Giants are slated to pick fourth - a position that could get worse if they beat the Philadelphia Eagles at home next Sunday.
That's still good. They'll probably be in position to take Georgia's Andrew Thomas, the consensus best left tackle in the draft. And adding an anchor to their offensive line could be a huge piece for their future.
But it still leaves them a huge hole on the defensive side of the ball.
Now, they're not completely out of the Chase for Chase yet. They still have the tie-breaker advantage over Washington by virtue of their lower strength of schedule. If the Giants lose to the Eagles Sunday and the Redskins somehow beat Dallas, and the Detroit Lions don't screw this up, the Giants could still back their way into the second pick. And sure, there's always the chance that Young falls to them, wherever they are slated to draft.
But what if that doesn't happen? The Giants could still re-sign linebacker Markus Golden, who has been a free agent find with 9.5 sacks so far this season. He could be quite the value if his price isn't too high. And they certainly had to like what they saw out of linebacker Lorenzo Carter, a third-rounder from last year, who had 1.5 sacks on Sunday to bring his season total to five.
But the executive made it clear: They need an unquestioned stud. They have to find a dominant game-wrecker. And if it's not a Strahan, it needs to be an Osi Umenyiora or a Justin Tuck. The good news is none of those three were drafted in the first round, so pass rushers certainly could be found elsewhere.
The bad news is that's easier said than done.
The Giants will have perhaps as much as $90 million in salary cap space to find a pass rusher this offseason, and they certainly could make a run at Shaq Barrett, Matthew Judon or Jadeveon Clowney. And if they're out of the Young chase they might have to. But edge rushers on the open market are often some of the most overpaid players, and even their own history proves desperate teams rarely find good value (see the five-year, $85 million contract Olivier Vernon signed with the Giants in 2016).
The Giants would rather develop them, the way they did as they built their 2007 Super Bowl champs. But to develop them, they first have to find them. Had they lost to the Redskins on Sunday, they would've been off to a tremendous start.
Instead, they better hope that win feels real good, because the pain from that victory could be long lasting. They are desperate to find that long-term pass-rushing answer, and the damage done by missing out on Young this April is going to be very difficult for them to undo.