Will New York Giants keep Colt McCoy or seek an upgrade at backup QB?

Giants quarterback Colt McCoy finished off a 19-17 win in Cincinnati last season when starter Daniel Jones injured his hamstring. Joseph Maiorana/USA Today Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Daniel Jones is the guy. He is the New York Giants' starting quarterback for what they hope is now and many years to come.

That much is indisputable, despite the quarterback carousel this offseason. What is uncertain is everything behind the Giants' QB1 right now, with NFL free agency opening March 17 and the 2021 NFL draft on April 29.

Colt McCoy, the Giants' backup this past season, is a free agent. Clayton Thorson and Joe Webb are the only other quarterbacks under contract. Thorson spent most of 2020 on the practice squad and Webb was brought in as a multi-positional option during a season impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Giants have a decision to make. They were content with what McCoy did on and off the field last season, when he completed 40-of-66 (60.6%) passes for 375 yards with one touchdown and one interception. They can roll it back with the veteran who has a year of experience in their offensive system, look for an "upgrade" on the free-agent market who will likely cost more, or draft a young developmental quarterback in the middle rounds.

Some of the veteran backup options available include Tyrod Taylor, Mitchell Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This year's draft is considered especially thin at the position outside of the first round, and the Giants are not flush with picks.

Given the evidence, there seems to be a strong sense McCoy, 34, will return with a somewhat similar contract. He played last season on a reasonable, one-year, $2.257 million deal that could have maxed out at $3 million with not-likely-to-be-earned incentives. That is an important piece in an offseason when every million will matter.

The Giants went 1-1 with the 11-year veteran as their starter against two playoff teams, he helped finish off a 19-7 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals after Jones hurt his hamstring, and he provides value behind the scenes as well.

"Good mentor," one source said to describe part of what McCoy brings to the table.

That's pretty much what you want from a backup quarterback on a team that isn't on the precipice of a title. Good enough play at a manageable price and helpful in the meeting room.

Now entering the offseason healthy (McCoy contemplated retirement last year while recovering from a leg injury), the case can be made he is in a better position now.

By all accounts, the Giants were happy with McCoy's performance in the backup role and he enjoyed his time in their program. And there seems to be no doubt McCoy wants to continue playing.

"A lot of where I was at last offseason had to do with my health, and [whether] I could recover from that injury and play the way I want to play," McCoy said. "I feel pretty confident in the way that I've played this year. First time being out there in a while and it kind of rejuvenated myself. I've enjoyed it, I've had fun, I really enjoy being part of this team and this group of guys and these coaches. ... Talking individually, talking about myself, I feel very confident that I'll keep going, yeah."

The price range for starter/backup quarterbacks such as Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Nick Foles was about $8 million last year. The next tier, guys like Case Keenum and Taylor, was about $5 million to $5.5 million. Dalton took $3 million, but that was a discount deal to live at home in Dallas. Joe Flacco, dealing with a serious neck injury, was a $1.5 million gamble for the New York Jets.

Value-wise, McCoy was solid, and him returning for a contract in the $3-million range makes sense for the Giants. They are not ready to have someone come in to seriously compete with Jones, yet. Jones was the No. 6 overall pick two years ago and the fate of this franchise rests with his ability to become at least a top-half-of-the-league quarterback.

The extra few million the Giants can save by sticking with McCoy over a potential starter/bridge-type quarterback can be applied elsewhere. Maybe it goes to a veteran wide receiver or an edge rusher who is surprisingly released. Or toward adding a veteran cornerback in what is expected to be a slightly depressed market.

There are limitations when McCoy is forced to start, much like there is with most backups. The Giants know this. There were some deep throws in a 20-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 20 that weren't completed because of his lack of arm strength.

But the feeling is McCoy was good, not great, in his limited playing time. That should work again for the Giants in 2021.