Giants must trade up if they want franchise QB in draft — and they have John Mara’s support

ORLANDO, Fla – John Mara meddles, at least that’s what some believe. This makes John Mara laugh because it couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s privy to all conversations, sure. When it comes to football decisions, though, he lets the men he hired to make those decisions, in fact, make those decisions.

Like the team’s future at quarterback, for example. Mara loves and believes in Daniel Jones, but if general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll come to him before April’s draft hell bent on their conviction that a franchise passer is within reach, they just need to move up, well that’s no problem with Mara.

“I certainly would support that,” he said from the NFL’s annual meeting. “I’m certainly not going to stand in the way of them.”


Because if the Giants want a quarterback that’s likely what they’re going to have to do.

The Giants, sources told SNY, have loosely inquired with the teams picking one through three about moving up. The problem is that none of those teams are overly interested in doing that. The Bears are locked on Caleb Williams. The Commanders and Patriots will take some variation of Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels. There are people within the Giants building high on all three players – getting them is nothing more than pipe dream.

The buzz around the NFL Combine dating back to the Combine has linked the Giants to Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. That’s only grown louder over the ensuing weeks. Back then, though, he figured to fall to the Giants organically, allowing them to use the No. 6 pick on him. That is no longer the case.

This is smoke season, indeed, but there’s enough now legitimizing the Vikings are interested in moving up for a quarterback. If the Cardinals (selecting fourth) or Chargers (selecting fifth) are inclined to fall back, Minnesota could easily jump the Giants for McCarthy. Bo Nix (Oregon) and Michael Penix (Washington) are not believed to be in the same class as the aforementioned four.

The only way for the Giants to guarantee themselves one of those players is by creating their own fate – moving up to prevent another team from leapfrogging them. A trade for a franchise quarterback isn’t uncommon with this franchise. The Giants did a variation of it when they added Eli Manning.

“We had a chance to get a long-term franchise quarterback here who can help us win Super Bowls,” Mara said. “So we went and pulled the trigger on him.”

The hype around McCarthy has grown exponentially after he led Michigan to a national championship. McCarthy was a good college quarterback (2,991 yards, 22 touchdowns, four interceptions in 2024), but league sources told SNY they expect him to be a substantially better pro. He has everything you look for – size (6-3, 219), athleticism, arm strength and accuracy. He played in a pro-style college offense, is the ultimate leader, beloved by teammates and receptive to all forms of coaching.

“I’ve said it before and it’s well documented: I think he’s the best quarterback in the draft. That’s just what I think. It’s my opinion,” Jim Harbaugh, McCarthy’s coach at Michigan and no coach of the Chargers, said from the annual meeting on Monday. “There are great quarterbacks in the draft, but I think he plays quarterback the best of any quarterback in the draft.”

The expectation for the Giants is that Jones starts the season opener – they’ve been adamant on that. There won’t be a quarterback competition unless he suffers a setback working his way back from ACL surgery. The draft is about New York’s future, though. The Giants simply cannot trust Jones like they used to.

They signed a player who’d just led them to a playoff victory over the Vikings. The one they have now is someone with two neck injuries and a torn-up knee on his resume – you can’t rely on that.

This draft provides Schoen and Daboll an opportunity to get their guy. To get him, though, they’re likely going to have to go up to get him.

And they have ownership’s stamp of approval to do just that.

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