EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants' patience with Eli Apple may have thinned, but it hasn't completely run out.
Despite the troubled year for the 22-year-old cornerback and the season-ending suspension he was hit with on Thursday, Giants co-owner John Mara kept the door open for the former first-round pick to return next season. He said he is "disturbed" by the many incidents with Apple this year, but he echoed a phrase that new Giants GM Dave Gettleman learned from former GM Ernie Accorsi: "You don't quit on talent."
"That's a discussion we have to have in the offseason," Mara said. "He's a young guy. I happen to like him personally. I'm obviously disturbed by what happened this year. I thought he had a terrific training camp. I was really excited about him as a player coming into this season, so I think we have to figure out what's going on with him.
"I'd like, at the end of the day, for him to be a part of this team's future, but I think that's going to have to be a discussion with whoever the next head coach is and Dave as well."
Gettleman obviously has a rough idea of what's gone on with Apple this season - a tumultuous year that has included arguments with coaches and staff, several benchings, and eventually a refusal to take the field with the scout team in practice on Wednesday. Apple has also been dealing with personal issues off the field, including brain surgery for his mother and a reported falling out with his stepfather.
On his first day as the Giants GM, Gettleman understandably sidestepped any specific conversations about the future of players. He did the same with Apple, even as he acknowledged the circumstances appeared unique.
"Well, again, I'm going to tell you this, I don't know everything, so, I'm not going to give you an opinion on how I'd handle it," Gettleman said. "But did I ever come across this before? No, not with a first-round pick."
The Giants could potentially cut or trade Apple in the offseason. There is also language reportedly in his contract that would allow them to use his suspension for "conduct detrimental to the team" as a reason to void the guarantees on his salaries in 2018 and 2019. That would make it financially easier to get rid of him if they want, although they surely would get a fight from the NFL Players Association if they tried to do that.
Apple was the Giants' first-round pick in the 2016 draft. He has not spoken to the media since his suspension, which came one day after teammate Landon Collins called him "a cancer" in a radio interview. Apple blew reporters off on Wednesday before the suspension was announced, saying only "I've got to take a s-t".