When Ben McAdoo was asked two weeks ago if there was any way Geno Smith could be the eventual heir to Eli Manning, the Giants head coach created a few headlines when he answered "I can't see why not."
John Mara, though, can see why not -- or at least why not yet.
"Well, listen, he hasn't thrown a pass for us yet," Mara said when asked Thursday night about the possibility of Smith eventually succeeding Manning. "But we thought it was a worthwhile signing."
It certainly was a low-risk signing -- a one-year deal that could be worth up to $2 million, but includes only $300,000 guaranteed. And as Mara indicated, before attending the Elite Eleven banquet at the New York Athletic Club, it was a chance for the Giants to acquire a talented player, just to see if it can work out.
And Smith, the 26-year-old former Jets starter, does have talent. It wasn't that long ago, after all, that he was a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
"There have been times in his career where he's played very well," Mara said. "He's got all the physical skills you could ever hope for. Let's put him on the field and see what he can do."
If his rehab from a torn ACL progresses quickly enough, he is expected to be on the field this summer, perhaps even battling Josh Johnson for the backup quarterback job behind Manning. Mostly, as Smith said, he's here to learn as much as he can from one of the top quarterbacks of this generation.
And Manning, who was on hand Thursday night to receive the Ernie Accorsi Humanitarian Award, said he's eager to help Smith -- even if it is odd to be sharing a locker room with a quarterback who was once a starter in the stadium the two teams share.
"Hey, you never know in the NFL," Manning said. "I met Geno a few times over the years. I think he is a talented quarterback and so I look forward to getting with him in a few weeks and helping him out, helping him learn the system. It's always fun. I think it's fun for me to have new guys and young quarterbacks. If I can teach the system it means I know it really well. And so I think it's a great way for me to continue to grow and learn."