When New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman unhappily took the podium following an underwhelming 5-11 season, his first order of business was to discuss quarterback Eli Manning.
Although Gettleman wouldn’t commit to Manning moving forward, noting that film study and evaluations still had to be done, the overriding belief from anyone residing in the real world was that Eli would return in 2019.
With that evaluation period now over, little appears to have changed as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports the Giants are “convinced” Manning hasn’t regressed, isn’t slowing down and can still lead Big Blue back to the Super Bowl.
Eli Manning is not expected to go anywhere. It is believed Gettleman and Shurmur are convinced the 38-year-old can function as a more-than-competent NFL quarterback, and they greatly value his professionalism, attention to detail, calm demeanor and ability to process information and relay it to his teammates. 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.
This does not mean the Giants hierarchy sees Manning as the same quarterback he was when he was 28. There is a realization he needs more help now, a sturdier offensive line and a strong running game to allow him to use his prowess at the play-action passing game.
Despite what they discovered in watching Manning’s film, the Giants recognize that at 38 years old, Manning is still on borrowed time. Accordingly, they want Eli to return as the starting quarterback but with a caveat — he’s going to need to groom his eventual heir.
Eli Manning as the starting quarterback. A draft pick such as Dwayne Haskins waiting in the wings as the backup, absorbing as much as he can from the veteran, waiting to take over in 2020.
Think Patrick Mahomes, sitting one season behind Alex Smith in Kansas City, before moving in.
The “brutally honest’’ assessment Gettleman promised will not result in parting with Manning, but it will lead to a high-alert effort to find his successor. The Giants realize the 2018 backups, Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta, are not the answer. Manning never has shared the roster with anyone close to a threat to wrest the job away from him. The Giants will try to make sure that changes in 2019.
The only question remaining is whether or not Manning wants that job. He’s previously expressed a desire to return in 2019, but also seemed to hint at a possible change. Reports have been floated that Manning may be open to playing for another team if what awaits him in New York isn’t quite to his liking.
Would Manning accept the role of mentor? Would he put his career on a doomsday clock? The former seems like a given, while the latter may lead to some questions. But if the New York Post reports is accurate, then the ball is now in Manning’s court.