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Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks free to talk with Giants

Secondary/Pass Defense Coordinator Steve Wilks of the Carolina

Secondary/Pass Defense Coordinator Steve Wilks of the Carolina Panthers during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. Credit: Getty Images / Tom Szczerbowski

If Steve Wilks is their guy, the Giants might have a head coach in place by the end of the week.

The defensive coordinator and his Carolina Panthers were eliminated from the playoffs with Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Saints in the wild-card round, freeing up the coveted candidate to interview and sign with any of the five teams courting him for their vacancy at head coach. The Giants are one of those teams and are expected to interview him as early as Monday.

Wilks is believed to be the preferred option for new general manager Dave Gettleman, although he lacks one very significant credential that the Giants are looking for: head-coaching experience. As assistant head coach of the Panthers since 2015, though, he has played a larger role than other assistant coaches usually do in addressing and preparing the team.

Wilks, 48, worked in Carolina with Gettleman but has little connection with the Giants themselves. His interview is seen as an opportunity for him to stress his leadership qualities and overall thinking while trying to overcome co-owner John Mara’s near-mandate to hire someone who has experience.

“Ideally, it will be somebody with previous head-coaching experience,” Mara said in December, “but that doesn’t have to be the case.”

As is the case with all defense-oriented candidates, Wilks will have to present a clear plan for his offensive staff and philosophies.

If Wilks can electrify the Giants’ brass, they could offer him the job quickly, given the level of interest from other teams with openings at head coach.

The Giants already have interviewed four candidates for their job, three of them on teams that remain in the playoffs. If the Giants want to offer the job to Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels or Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, or even conduct a second interview with any of them, they’ll have to wait until their teams are eliminated or until the bye week before the Super Bowl.

The only candidate to interview who is currently available is Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who served as interim head coach for the final four games of 2017. They also are expected to interview former Broncos associate head coach Eric Studesville at some point this week. He would be available right away, too.

New York Sports