The Giants have interviewed six potential head coaches, and reportedly reduced that to a shortlist of three finalists.
But with four jobs open and the possibility the finalists might be looking for something else, they need to have a backup plan.
According to Tom Rock and Bob Glauber of Newsday, they have one, with a fourth “sleeper” candidate in place in case things go wrong.
Of course, without a name attached, that could be the coaching search equivalent of the “mystery team” which is so popular among agents during free agency season.
In case they don’t end up with either Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia or Pat Shurmur (the reported finalists) they can always point to the other guy as the one they wanted all along.
It could be as simple as Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who was the only one of the six candidates to meet with both co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. Because of his familiarity with General Manager Dave Gettleman, Wilks was a logical candidate despite his lack of experience (only one year as a coordinator).
But it also opens the door for the possibility of a run at a whale such as Bill Belichick or Nick Saban or someone else, and identifying three other names as finalists prevents the perceived embarrassment of swinging and missing publicly.
It could also involve will-he-or-won’t-he interviewee Jim Schwartz, who didn’t meet with them during the Eagles week off, after they asked permission.
Either way, it adds a layer of mystery to a search that could drag on, since of course a legacy franchise like the Giants wouldn’t break the rules by reaching a deal with a coach still involved in the playoffs.