As New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning stood at the podium on Sunday night following a Week 17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, he was reflective, but didn’t offer much in the way of his future intentions.
Manning was noncommittal on a return to the Giants in 2019, acknowledging that he hadn’t given it too much thought and had no idea one way or another what the team is thinking.
“No, not right now,” Manning said when asked if he had a gut feeling he’d return next season. “We will figure it all out.”
Although Manning appeared uncertain, head coach Pat Shurmur was not. He unapologetically backed Manning, saying he very much “believes” in the two-time Super Bowl MVP and wants him back next season.
“Absolutely,” Shurmur said when asked if Manning has good football left. “I do . I know everyone thinks I’m nuts, but I’ve seen the good in Eli. And I believe in the good, especially at the quarterback position. And I believe everyone around him has to do their job as well.
“I believe in Eli. I believe in him.”
Whether or not Manning ultimately returns to the Giants in 2019 remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt it will be a top offseason storyline. And there won’t be any inside information coming from Eli’s father, Archie Manning, who told ESPN on Monday that he’s “fine” with it if Eli is done playing.
“If Eli is done playing,” Archie said. “I’m fine with it. But if he comes back, the Giants have got to win. They can’t go through another season like this.
“It’s hard to leave football. It’s hard for players to really look at themselves and say, ‘I need to retire.’ At the same time, there’s some value in walking away from the game healthy and playing your entire career in one place. Peyton doesn’t regret his decision , but there’s a little something in there that he wishes he could’ve done it all in one uniform.”
If Eli does ultimately decide to return in 2019, Archie believes there’s still plenty left in the tank.
“I haven’t seen any decline in his arm strength,” Archie said. “And he never did run fast. Eli understands the game. He knows how to run a football team, and he’s still physically capable of playing at a high level. That’s just the way I feel, and of course I’m his father. But I know this: If Eli felt like he couldn’t do it anymore, he would quit. I know he would.”
It’s obvious the Giants don’t currently have Manning’s replacement in the building, and with few options available in free agency and a relatively weak draft class, odds are that Eli will not only return in 2019, but will once again be under center as the team’s starting quarterback.