Sooner than later, the Eli Manning era in New York is going to come to an end.
But for those hoping that it will be sooner, as in this offseason, that doesn’t appear to be the case; rather, the Giants are reportedly leaning toward retaining Manning for at least another year while also stepping up efforts to find his successor in this spring’s NFL draft, according to the New York Post.
Manning, who turned 38 this month, had a “brutally honest” sit down with general manager Dave Gettleman shortly after the 2018 season ended.
While neither man disclosed specifics of what was said, it’s believed that both laid out their respective cards on the table regarding the direction each hoped to take regarding the most important position on the team.
And although neither Manning nor Gettleman sounded certain the Manning would be back for a 16th season in 2019, it needs to be remembered that at the time those comments were made, the Giants were coming off the emptions of a disappointing 5-11 season, with neither man likely wanting to make a statement based off any lingering emotions.
Since then, Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have presumably looked at film and discussed their thoughts on the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
The Post reports that the Giants brass are believed to have concluded that the organization can live another year with Manning at the helm, noting, “Upon detailed film study of the entire season, no alarming signs were uncovered to reveal regression in his physical skills, no category of throws he can no longer make.”
With that said, there is no question that Manning, who has never been known for extending plays with his feet, needs a better supporting cast around him, though given the shakiness of the offensive line at times last year, that was likely going to be an offseason agenda item high atop of Gettleman’s “to do” list regardless of who the quarterback is. ‘
The team will also look to add a big receiving target, something Manning hasn’t really had on a consistent basis since the days of Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, to complement the one-two punch of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.
As far as the quarterback goes, the Post is reporting that the team doesn’t seem interested in pursuing its next quarterback via free agency and will instead look to do so in the draft as neither of the Giants 2019 backups—Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta—are believed to be the long-term answer.
Speaking of the draft, this year’s quarterbacks class is widely considered by draft analysts to be underwhelming in terms of potential first-round talent.
Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins is generally believed to be the cream of this year’s quarterbacks crop despite his limited time as a starter.
However, the Giants, who hold the sixth overall pick, could have some competition for Haskins if that’s who they want. The Raiders and Bucs, both of whom draft ahead of the Giants, could be in the market for new quarterbacks, but the real threat is believed to be the Jaguars, who draft one spot below the Giants and who have been said to be interested in finding an upgrade at quarterback for some time.
considering that plus the fact that the Giants have far too many holes on the defensive side of the ball and who won’t have a ton of cap space to fix everything, it would seem virtually impossible for the Giants to put together a package to ensure they were in a position to get Haskins if he’s their desired pick, without hurting themselves elsewhere.
There is also the possibility of the Giants investing a second-round pick in Senior Bowl MVP Daniel Jones, the former Duke passer who, like Manning, was groomed at the collegiate level by David Cutcliffe.
Jones might have won the all-star game’s MVP award, but his performance in the game was hardly solid, according to Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports, who wrote that despite the absence of wind to speak of, “Jones' downfield passes regularly wobbled, and many of the throws he got away with here on Saturday would be interceptions in the NFL.”
If the Giants do pass on a chance to bring in a veteran free agent as Manning’s successor, then expect to see Manning under center for at least part if not all of another season while the coaches get his successor ready for 2020.
This is the same plan used in the past by other franchises, most recently the Chiefs, who had Patrick Mahomes sit for a year behind Alex Smith.
The Giants also deployed a similar plan when Manning was a rookie, having him sit for about half a season behind Kurt Warner. The Packers and Patriots also did the same thing with their respective franchise quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady).
As for Manning’s contract situation—he’s due a $5 million roster bonus just after the start of the new league year in March—the Post reports that it’s not yet known if the quarterback will be asked to take a pay cut, though the report also claims that it’s “believed” the Giants won’t present any such scenario as a “take it or leave it” type of proposition.
One scenario would be to trim Manning’s $23.2 million cap number but provide reachable incentives for him to earn the money back.
Another scenario would be to restructure some of his base salary and add another year onto the deal to absorb the cap hit, the intention being that Manning never actually sees the additional year.