EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants waited until they were on the clock Thursday night before executing their most significant draft day trade since they acquired Eli Manning 17 years ago.
They sent their selection at No. 11 in the first round to the Chicago Bears for a package of four picks, including two in the current draft (No. 20 in the first round and No. 164 in the fifth), plus first and fourth-round choices in the 2022 draft. The Giants selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Chicago moved up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
"Obviously it was too good an opportunity (to pass up)," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So, we made it. We did it. We added a one and a four next year. Another pick for this year and another pick for next year. We were very pleased we were able to make the play."
The key component of the trade for the Giants was the Bears' first-rounder next year.
"It was very important to get the first-round pick next year," Gettleman said. "As I told you guys (reporters) at my pre-draft presser, there's a lot of unknowns here with this group (of players in this draft) and plus a lot of kids went back and took advantage of the NCAA giving them an additional year of eligibility. That obviously played into our thinking."
The trade also enabled the Giants to recoup the fifth-round choice (No. 154) they sent the Jets in 2019 to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams. It gives them seven choices in the seven-round draft; one in each of the first five rounds and two in the sixth. They received an extra selection in that round from Arizona in a trade for linebacker Markus Golden. The Giants do not have a seventh-round selection after sending it last year to Denver for cornerback Isaac Yiadom.
For the first time in the nine NFL drafts he has run – five with Carolina and four with the Giants – Gettleman executed a trade to move back…not just in the first round, but in any round.
Gettleman initiated the trade by reaching out to Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.
"What happened was we had called around and … I had spoken to Ryan Pace, and I had heard he was interested in moving up," Gettleman said. "So, I called him. When I spoke to him, he said, 'Yes, we're very interested.' And then the conversations begin.
"I spoke to Ryan today before the draft and I spoke to him again. He called me again somewhere around the seventh pick, somewhere in there, and then we got on the clock and from there, (assistant general manager) Kevin Abrams took over and finished off the trade."
It is widely thought the Giants were interested in Alabama wide receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and cornerbacks Jayce Horn of South Carolina and Patrick Surtain of Alabama. All were selected in the first 10 picks.
Although it was a surprise each of the four players were taken so early, the Giants are always ready for the unexpected in the draft.
"We had really talked this through, me, Joe (Judge), Chris Mara, Tim McDonnell, Kevin Abrams and Mark Koncz, we had all discussed thoroughly, really looked at our board," Gettleman said of the team's personnel experts. "We had a lengthy meeting on Monday and we followed it up with another meeting on Wednesday and so we really - we knew what we wanted. We knew where we wanted to go, and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back and that's where you get the other piece of it where we're calling teams behind us.
"And then we met again at 6 o'clock tonight to just constantly review and talk it through and it was a great group effort and we all felt very - we all felt very together on the decision. And we made it."
It was the Giants' first such move in the opening round since general manager Ernie Accorsi traded with Pittsburgh 15 years ago. The Giants moved from No. 25 to the 32nd and final choice in the round and added third (No. 96) and fourth-round (No. 129) picks. The Steelers took wide Santonio Holmes and the Giants selected Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka to close out the first round. With the later round choices they received from Pittsburgh, the Giants selected linebacker Gerris Wilkinson and offensive lineman Guy Whimper.
Of course, Accorsi executed the franchise-changing trade for Manning on April 24, 2004. After the San Diego Chargers selected him first overall, Manning was traded to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers (whom the Giants had taken with the fourth pick), the Giants' 2004 third-round pick, and 2005 first and fifth-round selections.
View photos of the 20th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.