The front office has selected the players who will represent the Giants this season. Now the players will get to determine who represents them.
When the 53 members of the team gather for the first time Monday, one of their orders of business will be to elect captains for the 2017 season.
The offensive captain is a no-brainer. Unless the Giants have decided to institute some type of term limit, Eli Manning will wear a “C’’ on his jersey for the 11th straight season.
The defensive captain? That’s a lot harder to figure out.
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas won that vote last year, but other candidates are pushing for the title. Safety Landon Collins has been outspoken about his desire to be the captain, and others on the team have pointed to Jason Pierre-Paul and Da mon Harrison because of their leadership.
Even J.T. Thomas, a backup linebacker who took a pay cut to stay with the team and made the squad after coming back from a torn ACL in 2016, can be considered.
“On the defense alone, there’s like four, five, six guys that come to the top of my head,” Casillas said of the pool of possibilities.
For some teams, no clear-cut leader stands out, but the Giants’ captaincy conundrum does not represent a vacuum of leadership. On the contrary, the defense is overflowing with players who, at any given moment, can step into a captain-like role even though they may not have the honorific.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the vocal leaders in the secondary. Second-year linebacker B.J. Goodson likely is too raw to get votes this season, but he seems to have the makings of a future leader. Even Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins, in their own quiet ways, provide maturity and model the type of play that others can emulate.
“I still consider myself a leader, I know a lot of guys do,” Casillas said. “So if I’m not voted, I’ll still try to keep that leadership role.”
That said, Casillas isn’t conceding anything. He said earlier this summer that he voted for himself in last year’s polling. In fact, he said he would have voted for himself twice if permissible (players generally cast a ballot for two names).
The former undrafted player from New Brunswick, New Jersey, wore the patch proudly.
“I felt very accomplished by that, you know?” said Casillas, who has a pair of Super Bowl rings. “With the locker room and my first time being voted, with a lot of veteran guys I feel like I had to get that vote from.”
The Giants had only one defensive captain each of the previous two years. Before Casillas, it was Jon Beason in 2015. The NFL, which instituted the captains program in 2007, does allow teams to have up to six players wearing the gold “C’’ patch on their jerseys. The Giants have had co-captains on offense and defense several times, the most recent on defense being 2014, when Beason and Antrel Rolle shared the job.
Perhaps that is Casillas’ best chance to retain his job as player ambassador, by splitting the responsibilities.
“I had it one time,” he said. “It would be great to be one of the captains for the Giants.”
Although there aren’t enough patches to go around, he would be one of many.