No one would be affected more profoundly than Eli Manning if the Giants, next week early in the NFL draft, select a quarterback. Manning, of course, knows this better than anyone, and he is not only bracing for this possibility, he is expecting it to happen.
“I figure the Giants will get a young quarterback,” Manning said Monday on a conference call. “I understand that. Hey, I still got to do my job and do my part. My job as I see it is to go out there and play quarterback and win football games, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The Giants gathered Monday for the start of their offseason workout program and Manning was at the facility, once again, for a 16th year that was not guaranteed to be there for him.
Last year, the Giants had to rally from a 1-7 first half of the season to finish 5-11, and soon after the final game — fittingly, a 36-35 loss to the Cowboys — Manning met with Dave Gettleman. The general manager wanted to hear from Manning but would not offer any thumbs-up or thumbs-down about whether there would be a return for the franchise quarterback in 2019.
“I knew pretty quickly I still wanted to play,” Manning said. “I told the Giants very quickly. I didn’t have to think about it long. This is what I know, this is what I like to do and what I work extremely hard at doing. I’m excited for it. I like kinda the way the team rallied at the end of the year and started playing better football and I think came together with the coaches. Still could have won a few more of those games. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
As far as being left in professional limbo, Manning said: “It was right after the season, they had a lot to look at and a lot to figure out and a lot to determine. I understood that. I just wanted to let them know how I was feeling before they made the decision.”
Manning spoke again with Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur, but, he said, the limbo was not lifted until “just in the last month or so, they kinda told me that I am coming back and will be on the team this year.” That timing likely coincided with the Giants paying Manning a $5 million bonus for being on the roster the first week of March.
For the first time, Manning will enter a season on the final year of his contract. He will receive $17 million in bonuses and salary and does not have a deal in place for 2020.
“I’ve never concerned myself with that,” Manning said. “I think every year I’m just worried about that next year. I’m thinking about right now, this team, getting wins and doing whatever it takes to be a good teammate.”