What If The New York Giants Successfully Claimed Cris Carter Off Waivers in 1990?

Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Carter alumni captain Cris Carter before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Carter alumni captain Cris Carter before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Without Cris Carter, the New York Giants selected 11 players in the draft, not one receiver and only three ended up becoming starters: Rodney Hampton, defensive end Mike Fox, and defensive back Dave Whitmore. The Giants would go 13-3, win the NFC East, and beat the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, and Buffalo Bills in the postseason to become “World” Champions.

With Minnesota, Carter played in all 16 games, but only started five. He would catch 27 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns. On the G-Men, Carter’s 27 catches would’ve been fourth best on the team ahead of Stephen Baker “The Touchdown Maker”. Carter’s 413 receiving yards would’ve been third best.

Big Blue’s passing success revolved around spreading the ball around, but the majority of tosses went to running backs on screens and tight end Mark Bavaro up the seam. Third down back Dave Meggett led the team with 39 receptions. That’s bananas.

With Carter, not much would’ve changed. The Giants would’ve still won the Super Bowl. Lionel Manuel, Stacy Robinson, and Odessa Turner would’ve seen less playing time, with one or more of those guys not getting a ring. But, the big timeline change would’ve been that head coach Bill Parcells would NOT have left the team.

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The New York Giants selected 12 players in the ’91 draft and only one pick would see extended playing time with the team: linebacker Corey Miller. Wide receiver Ed McCaffrey found success with the Denver Broncos, tackle Clarence Jones was a moderate success with the Rams, Saints, and Panthers, and tight end Ted Popson caught on with the San Francisco 49ers.

With Carter, it’s tough to say if the team drafts McCaffrey. Maybe Ed sees the spotlight earlier on and pads his stats some more. But, with Parcells at the helm and not Ray Handley, Phil Simms is the starting quarterback from the get-go. Eliminating the quarterback controversy cuts down on the uncertainty in the clubhouse and the chemistry on-field.

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Those Carter-less Giants lost six games by less than a touchdown in 1991. Meanwhile, Cris had a breakout year, catching 72 balls for 962 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers would’ve far outpaced all other Giants targets as Mark Ingram, Stephen Baker, and Dave Meggett’s numbers paled in comparison. Could Carter’s significantly better stats be enough to give the Giants five more wins?

  1. Week 2 September 8th – L 1-1 Los Angeles Rams 13-19
  2. Week 3 September 15th – L 1-2 @ Chicago Bears 17-20
  3. Week 5 September 29th – L 2-3 @ Dallas Cowboys 16-21 
  4. Week 9 October 27th – L 4-4 Washington Redskins 13-17 
  5. Week 14 December 1st – L 7-6 @ Cincinnati Bengals 24-27
  6. Week 15 December 8th – L 7-7 Philadelphia Eagles 14-19 

Big Blue’s 8-8 record landed them in 4th place. They went 3-5 within the division. Had they won those three close divisional contests above, they’d have gone 6-2 in their division and 11-5 overall. Three more wins and they’re in the playoffs as a Wild Card, knocking the Dallas Cowboys out of contention on a tiebreaker.

No one’s saying anyone could’ve derailed the juggernaut that were the 1991-92 Washington Redskins, BUT any Giants fan would’ve preferred the playoffs over that Super Bowl hangover season. Most importantly, the Giants have a rising star in Cris Carter.

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The New York Giants had 12 picks in the ’92 draft and though they missed on their first and third round selections, they did get Keith Hamilton, Phillippi Sparks, and Corey Widmer. The two wide receivers selected did next to nothing in the league.

Without Cris Carter, the 1992 New York Giants went 6-10 and finished fourth in the division, prompting the firing of Ray Handley. Ed McCaffrey led the team with 49 receptions, 610 yards, and five touchdowns.

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Again, if Carter is on the Giants in 1991, it’s tough to say if the G-Men pick McCaffrey in the draft. But, if they still had, Big Blue would have a fairly decent wide receiver duo in Cris and Ed. Would the Giants have still signed free agent Chris Calloway had Carter been on the squad? Maybe not. At this point, Stephen Baker’s star was fading, and Mark Ingram’s numbers were down.

In ’92, Carter took a step back catching 53 passes for 681 yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers would’ve been tops on the G-Men payroll.

Barring injury, Phil Simms remains as the New York Giants starting quarterback, but who knows how far he, Carter, and McCaffrey can take the passing game. Without Carter, the Giants passing game was ranked in the mid-to-high 20s. With Carter, it’s possible they get to middle of the pack. Rodney Hampton was a Pro Bowler, but Big Blue’s defense stunk mostly because Lawrence Taylor only played in 9 games.

Next: 1993-1995