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Giants have ‘sleeper’ fourth head-coaching candidate, source says

Then-Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks during training camp

Then-Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks during training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., on Aug. 12, 2017. Credit: TNS via Getty Images / David T. Foster III

Three finalists for the Giants. Four job openings in the NFL.

It doesn’t take an engineering degree from RPI to realize that when the playoff tunes end for Pat Shurmur, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels, the Giants could be shut out of the game of head coach musical chairs.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the three candidates on the list the Giants have whittled down will wind up with jobs in Arizona, Detroit and Indianapolis, respectively.

Which is why the Giants have a backup plan. “A sleeper” is how it was described by a source to Newsday.

It’s unclear who that potential fourth emergency candidate might be.

One possibility could be Steve Wilks, who already has interviewed with the team. It might take some pride-swallowing from Wilks and some assurances from the Giants after it has become well-reported that the team does not consider him a finalist, but that can be done.

Another option might be Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The Giants asked for and received permission to speak with him while the Eagles were on their bye week but could not schedule an interview during the allowed window. If the Eagles lose on Saturday, his calendar will become much less hectic.

As would that of Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, thought by many to be the next up-and-coming offensive whiz kid on the heels of coaching successes such as Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. He has no head-coaching experience and is very green, but if the Giants have no other options, he might be one of the people they consider.

And of course, the shadow of Bill Belichick in New England looms large over the entire Giants decision-making process.

Not only are two of his protégés among the three finalists for the Giants’ job, but he also might have interest in coming back to the team that once employed him as an assistant coach. He’s denied that publicly, but if the Giants miss out on all three of their current top targets, it would mean that both of Belichick’s top lieutenants in New England had been hired elsewhere. That vacuum could make a departure from the Patriots to the Giants more enticing.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft has set the price tag on trading his hoodied prince at three first-round picks, but the second Belichick walks into his office and announces he no longer wants to coach the Patriots, that leverage will be gone and Kraft likely will take what he can get.

These are contingencies. A few potential “break glass in case of emergency” possibilities.

But if the Giants do get left out in the cold — or get cold feet over one of their finalists if their top choice is unavailable — they will have options. They’d be messy and perhaps embarrassing, but the Giants will have a head coach for the 2018 season.



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