New York Giants: Evaluating the 'back nine' of Eli Manning's career
Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers during the second half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Since the loss to the Green Bay Packers, Giants fans have shifted their focus to next season, especially with regards to their rapidly aging quarterback.

Few men across all of sports evoke the kind of controversy Eli Manning can.

Every football fan across the country has heard the bar room arguments. Long winded debates about whether a non-elite quarterback could win two Super Bowls, or whether all these interceptions are really Eli’s fault. These have become commonplace when discussion turns to the Giants’ QB.

Whatever side of the equation you personally fall on, no one will deny that the Giants have stuck by their man. Eli has started for eleven consecutive seasons in New York, winning the adoration of the Giants faithful in the process. However, that all may be coming to an end.

When Giants general manager Jerry Reese was questioned about his QB’s future on Monday, he gave a very interesting response. Reese said, “We always think about every position, but Eli is 36, we have started to think about who’s the next quarterback, who’s in line. So we’ll look into that as we move through the offseason…I think he’s probably on the back nine, but I don’t think that’s ancient for a quarterback.”

Golf analogies aside, Reese’s comments are compelling, as it is the first time he has indicated to the media about the Giants’ future after Eli. Certainly, Reese and his team must have thought about it a lot over the years, but this is the first time he’s come out and said it in a press conference.

In New York, if you say something like that in a press conference, the rumor mill starts buzzing.

Will the Giants draft a QB? Will the Giants sign a QB? Will the Giants try to develop Josh Johnson, the only QB on their roster?

Realistically, they could do any number of things, because in all likelihood, Eli will be around at least another two years. With Peyton playing until age 39, and the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, and even Josh McCown playing into their late 30s, I think it’s safe to say Eli has a few good years left in him.

Certainly the trends don’t look good for Eli. From 2015 to 2016, his passing yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, and yards per completion were all down. Additionally, his interceptions, the Achilles heel throughout his career, went up.

However, there’s a lot of factors beyond Eli that may have caused that. The offensive line gave him no time in the pocket. The run game was non existent. He had limited pass catchers at tight end. The play calling was baffling at times.

There’s reason to believe that Eli can bounce back from a mediocre season with some improved personnel.

Still, there seems to be an open desire in New York’s front office to get some fresh blood at QB after the disaster of backup Ryan Nassib over the past few years. My advice for the Giants: don’t rush it.

The Giants are closer than they’ve been in a very long time to being a Super Bowl contending team. Despite the blowout loss to the Packers, this is a team with a ton of young talent on offense, a veteran QB, and a defense that is once again feared by every team in the league.

There’s no need to spend valuable draft picks, or even cap space to draft a QB for the future. If the right prospect comes along, expect Reese to grab him, but drafting a QB simply because it’s a “position of need” would be exceptionally foolish considering how close the Giants are.

Additionally, the same goes for a free agent. Don’t waste cap room, which needs to be used to fill in the holes that New York can’t occupy with draft picks, on a young quarterback who won’t even be starting.

While Giants fans are anxious to get their QB of the future, both the fans and the front office must be patient. Eli Manning will be around at least a couple more years, and while he may be on his “back nine,” he can still play.

Let’s just hope his back nine is better than Archie’s.

Billy Nayden is an SMU Mustang from Connecticut born and raised on New York sports. Avid fan of nearly every sport from MMA to handball. His heart is in NYC, but Billy has seen games on multiple continents, and has frequented arenas ranging from high school gyms to world class meccas.