New York Giants fans might be in for a big surprise this August as they head into year two of the Dave Gettleman-Pat Shurmur era.
With the 2018 regular season wrapped up, and the head coaches who will be fired already handed their pink slips, only five teams remain as eligible to be forced into appearing on HBO’s Hard Knocks. The Giants are one of them. Before we break down the Giants and the other four teams eligible to be forced into participation, let’s break down the criteria the NFL looks for. When it comes to Hard Knocks, the NFL accepts teams who volunteer to be on the show, but that is not often the case. Instead, if no team volunteers, the NFL can force a franchise to participate if they do not meet any of the outlined exemptions for not participating.
NFL teams are safe from being on the show if they meet the following criteria:
1. If you have a first-year head coach, you are exempt.
2. If your team has made the playoffs in either of the past two seasons, you are exempt.
3. If your team has been the featured franchise in Hard Knocks during any of the last 10 years, you are exempt.
The Giants are on one of five teams who does not meet any of the criteria above. In addition to the Giants, here is a breakdown of the four other candidates to appear on this summer’s blockbuster series.
The Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are most likely the current favorite to appear on this season of Hard Knocks for a number of reasons. For starters, they have arguably the most entertaining head coach in the NFL in Jon Gruden. In addition to Gruden, the Raiders will most likely be adding three first-round draft picks to the roster for this summer (barring any trades). The Raiders do not have any high-profile skill position players set to star on the show unless Marshawn Lynch returns for the 2019 season, but there is plenty of intrigue surrounding them as they enter the 2019 offseason (currently) without a home stadium just one season prior to their Las Vegas move.
The San Francisco 49ers
Previously, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has made it clear that he is not interested in subjecting his team to the drama and distraction he deems Hard Knocks to be. He did so again when asked about the subject during his year-end press conference on December 31, saying (per 49ers.com), “It’s a hard, hard, bad stance, Hard Knocks. You will see the worst entertainment possible by me.” Ultimately, the decision is not his to make. The 49ers are another team who isn’t exempt from appearing on the show. With the return of Jimmy Garappolo at quarterback, year two of Richard Sherman, and the salary cap space to possibly sign a high-profile free agent, the 49ers would make for an interesting season.
The Detroit Lions
We would imagine Lions head coach Matt Patricia has no interest in appearing on the show as a Bill Belichick disciple, but again, it’s not his decision to make. The Lions don’t exactly have the high-profile players to make for an interesting season. Also, we would imagine Patricia would do everything in his power to hide as much as possible from the HBO camera crew.
The Washington Redskins
With franchise quarterback Alex Smith uncertain to return in 2019 after a complicated recovery from a serious leg injury, this could lead to drama surrounding the quarterback position. Fans of the show would likely also find entertainment listening to Jon’s brother Jay Gruden, owner Dan Snyder, and general manager Bruce Allen. There will likely also be a comeback storyline surrounding 2018 rookie running back Derius Guice who stole the show at training camp last summer before tearing his ACL in the preseason.
The New York Giants
Although Giants ownership has no interest in ever appearing on the show, it’s hard to argue against this franchise being the most intriguing. If the Giants decide to stick with quarterback Eli Manning, and that’s a big if, they could also decide to draft his successor. If a rookie quarterback like Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, or Drew Lock is added to the fold, an intriguing training camp battle could ensue. The Giants could also decide to save $17 million of Manning’s $23.2 million 2019 salary cap hit by releasing him and signing an intriguing veteran quarterback like Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater. In addition to the quarterback storyline, big names like Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham would become fan favorites on the show right away.
The NFL has not decided on which team will appear just yet. Last offseason, the Cleveland Browns were announced as Hard Knocks’ 2018 participant in the middle of May.