PHOENIX -- The New York Giants are admittedly on the lookout for Eli Manning's eventual successor. Is it possible they already found him when they signed Geno Smith?
It is, according to Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who raved about the former Jets starter during a 45-minute interview at the NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. He said it was "very exciting" to add a player as promising as the 26-year-old former second-round pick.
Even though Smith is only on a one-year deal with the Giants, McAdoo wouldn't rule him out as the long-term answer to who will be the Giants' next franchise quarterback.
"I can't see why not," McAdoo said. "We're a long way to go from there. To me, Geno, you look at it, you study the guys coming out and you study Geno and he's right in the mix of one of the better players available this year."
McAdoo is, of course, correct: There's a long way to go. Manning is only 36 and under contract through the 2019 season, and the Giants have only begun looking at their future options. Smith, who is rehabbing a torn ACL, isn't even a lock to make the Giants' final roster. He certainly has no guarantee to stick around once his contract is up.
But what McAdoo sees in Smith is an intriguing, young player with unfulfilled potential. He likes Smith's skills and believes he can grow in the Giants' system.
After that? Hey, you never know.
"I find it very exciting," McAdoo said. "A guy that has his skill set is hard to find. You can't find guys out there that have that type of arm talent -- the quick release, the throwing motion and the feet that go with it. And he's a competitor. It's exciting to be able to bring a guy in and work with a guy like that and see where you can take him."
Among the many, many things McAdoo seemed to like about Smith was "He has a compact throwing motion. You like his profile. He has a quick release. He gets it out of his hand. A ton of arm strength. He's mobile. So it'll be interesting."
Just how interesting remains to be seen. McAdoo said Smith will be "limited" this offseason, which could immediately put him behind veteran Josh Johnson in the competition to be Manning's primary backup. Not that the winner of that battle earns a great prize. Manning has started 211 straight games, including the playoffs, since he won the Giants' starting job as a rookie in 2004.
So, unless Smith can get himself ready to play in the preseason, there's a chance he may never take a snap in a game for the Giants.
Smith obviously understood that when he signed with the Giants. He said all the right things, talking about a chance to learn from Manning. It's also a great chance to reset his reputation after two mediocre years as a starting quarterback and four turbulent years overall with the Jets.
"He has a clean slate," McAdoo said. "He's coming in, he has to wrap his mind around a new offensive system and get used to the fundamental part of things. He'll be limited obviously in what he can do physically. But he's going to dive into it and we're going to coach the heck out of him. I'm sure he's looking forward to it."
Whether that could lead to a future with the Giants beyond that, McAdoo was careful not to close any doors.