Giants eyeing Jerry Judy, Brandin Cooks before trade deadline?

Brian Daboll understood what he had to work with in his first year as Giants coach, which is why his philosophy for the team was simple. As Julian Love said about security last week, their whole strategy has been “Take (opposing teams) out to the deep end and see if they can swim … and then drown them.”

In other words: Do whatever it takes to drag your opponents into the fourth quarter and capitalize on your chances.

But this only works if the giants are strong enough to swim.

So far, they’ve stayed afloat with a surprising 6-2 record, which puts them in line for their first playoff berth since 2016. But that success also created a huge dilemma for new Giants GM Joe Schoen ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline at 4 p.m. The flaws in his team were crystal clear in their 27-13 loss at Seattle on Sunday and the way who have struggled to throw the ball all season.

Geno Smith leads Seahawks with 212 passing yards and two touchdown passes in win over Giants

Geno Smith leads Seahawks with 212 passing yards and two touchdown passes in win over Giants

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith led the Seahawks with 212 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 27-13 victory over the New York Giants.

But they’re still contenders, and as the Giants well know, those opportunities can be rare.

So will Schoen stick with his long-term rebuilding plan, knowing that a championship this season is likely a fantasy no matter what he does? Or will he seize the moment, be bold and make a deal for a player like Denver’s Jerry Judy or Houston’s Brandin Cooks, even if it costs him draft picks or salary cap space he’d rather use next season?

It’s a tough call for the GM of a team that has remarkable but completely unexpected success that he must know is unsustainable in the way they play. The Giants had just 225 total yards of offense Sunday. They are averaging just 159 passing yards per game. One player — Saquon Barkley, with 968 yards from scrimmage — accounted for nearly 40 percent of their offense all year.

If they continue to play like this, hoping to catch a breakthrough in the fourth quarter, the win can’t continue — even if Daboll thinks it can.

“I would say most games in this league come down to one-score games,” Daboll said. “A lot of games are won that way. It’s not like some college coaching where it ends in the first quarter. Most of these games are back and forth.”

This may be true, but it only adds to Schoen’s problem. Just think how much easier fourth quarter life could be for the Giants if they had a receiver they could count on in the clutch. Teams are loading up to stop the Giants’ rushing attack, just like the Seahawks did Sunday when they held Barkley to just 53 yards on his 20 carries and limited quarterback Daniel Jones to just 20 yards.

They can do this because, as the entire NFL knows, the Giants can’t throw, mostly because they have one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. But there are fixes available. The Giants have called the Broncos about Jewdy, 23, and Houston about Cooks, 29, according to an NFL source, and have serious interest in both. They particularly like Jeudy, a source said, and Daboll knows him well since they were together at Alabama in 2017.

But Jeudy could be expensive, perhaps a second-round pick, one source said. The price for Cooks could be lower — perhaps a fourth-round pick, some sources suggest — but that’s only because he comes with $18 million in guaranteed salary next season, unless they can get the Texans to pick up some of that.

Some other options, like Carolina’s DJ Moore or Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool, may even be more expensive in select drafts. There are also potential bargain options that league sources say are available, such as Denver’s KJ Hamler or New England’s Kendrick Bourne.

So will Schoen take one of them? The GM, according to those who know him, is realistic about what this Giants team is all about and has made it clear he’s not going to mortgage any part of the future to make some kind of fantasy championship run. But he’s still looking because he knows a receiver can do a lot for his team. That would be a huge boost for the young quarterback, who he’s still evaluating. It would also relieve some of the pressure on Barkley, which could make him impossible for defenses to stop.

And that could be big for a tough, tough team, especially when they get to those crucial fourth quarters. But big enough for what? They almost certainly won’t overtake the undefeated Eagles in the NFC East race even if they add a receiver. And they’re in a great position to earn a wild card spot even if they don’t.

So that’s the question Schoen is wrestling with: Is the cost worth what he could gain by adding a top receiver?

Daboll dropped no hints Monday, saying only, “We’re going to do whatever we think is best for the team.” And for what it’s worth, the man leading the offense on the field said he’s comfortable with what they have

“Yes,” said Jones. “I think we have guys from all over who can play. I have a lot of confidence, a lot of confidence in the guys we have in the locker room.”

That’s nice, but he certainly knows their limitations. Note that their best receiver right now is Darius Slayton (16 catches, 232 yards), who started training camp as their fifth receiver only because they couldn’t trade him. Their second-best receiver is 5-foot-8 rookie Wan’Dale Robinson (12-107). Their third receiver — the one who took the most snaps Sunday — is Marcus Johnson (6-63), a journeyman who has played for six teams in seven years.

And Jones also knows that help probably isn’t coming from within. Veteran Kenny Golladay may be healthy soon, but at this point, no one thinks he’ll be the player the Giants hoped for when they gave him a four-year, $72 million contract a year ago. The electric Kadarius Toney could probably help, but the Giants dumped him and his attitude to Kansas City last week for the third and sixth rounds.

Which leaves Schoen looking outside for the one thing the Giants need more than anything else. Whether he gets it all depends largely on price.

It also depends on how bold the first GM wants to be.

Ralph Vacciano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that spent 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him on Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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