INDIANAPOLIS — There is no rest for the NFL’s newly crowned Coach of the Year.
Some of Brian Daboll’s counterparts around the league did not make the trip for this week’s NFL Scouting Combine but the head coach of the Giants boarded a flight Monday morning, along with his general manager, Joe Schoen, for the purpose of improving the talent level of the team.
Schoen will also engage in face-to-face conversations with representation for some of his own players set to become unrestricted free agents. The two most notable, of course, are quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. This week turns into an NFL three-ring circus, of sorts, with agents, coaches and general managers all mingling, with plenty of business getting done — the start of draft trade talks, contract parameters for impending free agents — amid plenty of rumors that tend to swirl this time of year.
Just as he did several weeks ago for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Daboll brought his coaching staff to the combine. More than 10 teams opted not to do this, leaving their coaches behind and leaving the draft-prospect interviews and on-site player evaluations to the general manager and members of the front office. The coaches who stayed home can gain access to videos of the interviews, but Daboll prefers to be in the room with the players and have his coordinators and assistant coaches also conduct the interviews in person.
“I’m grateful Dabs loves the process and invests in it,’’ Schoen said.
Daboll, though, is not scheduled to do any interviews with the media at the combine. This is not the case with 20 NFL head coaches who were assigned time slots to speak behind podiums Tuesday or Wednesday, including all three other head coaches in the NFC East — Ron Rivera (Commanders) and Nick Sirianni (Eagles) go on Tuesday and Mike McCarthy (Cowboys) talks on Wednesday. Daboll will refrain, as he believes at this juncture in the offseason it is more appropriate for Schoen to do the talking, with the Giants in team-building mode.
Schoen will speak Tuesday afternoon and there is plenty for him to discuss.
Perhaps the Giants and Jones’ camp can come closer to finding common ground on a multiyear contract, an outcome both sides want. The Giants have until March 7 to either get a deal done or else put the franchise tag of $32.4 million on Jones to keep him off the open market. The Giants want the average-per-year for Jones to come in around $35 million but it is believed Jones’ camp wants at least $40 million per year.
The main thrust this week is meeting with players eligible for the NFL draft. Unlike last year, when the newly hired Schoen arrived with the No. 5 and No. 7 overall picks in the draft, this time around the Giants own the No. 25 overall pick, as they finished 9-7-1 in Daboll’s debut season and won a playoff game. The Giants should be far more organized and prepared this time around. A year ago, Schoen barely knew the Giants scouts — he had met them at the Senior Bowl a few weeks earlier. This year, the scouting department and the front office have one year of familiarity together.
Teams this week can meet with as many as 45 players in interviews that cannot last longer than 20 minutes and expect the Giants will not skimp on anything while they are in town. They have plenty of needs to address: Wide receiver, inside linebacker, cornerback, depth on the interior of their offensive and defensive lines.
Figure receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Quentin Johnston (TCU), Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee), Jordan Addison (USC) and Zay Flowers (Boston College) would be under discussion if they are on the board at No. 25. Cornerbacks in that mix could include Brian Branch (Alabama) and Deonte Banks (Maryland). An inside linebacker who likely will test well at the combine is Drew Sanders, who started his college career at Alabama and ended it at Arkansas.
The Giants will meet with a wide variety of players at several different positions. Do not be surprised if word gets out that the Giants met with a certain player at a certain position that they seemingly do not need. The more information they can garner, the more likely they will be able to make a knowledgeable decision in late April when the draft arrives.