There are only five more games left in the disastrous 2017 season for the New York Giants—and likely the Eli Manning era for Big Blue.
Once the season began to unravel, there were animus signs that the coveted Eli Manning era in New York was coming to an end. No sign was as prominent as when Ben McAdoo benched Manning in favor of Geno Smith, ending his consecutive start streak at 210 games.
That benching makes it almost impossible to envision him in a Giants uniform in 2018. Instead, whether it’s by trade or if the Giants release him, he’ll wind up with the Jacksonville Jaguars next season.
Here are five reasons why Manning will end up in a Jaguars uniform come next season.
1. John Mara burnt the bridge
He may never admit this publicly, but Manning is still hurt that he was benched and that his consecutive game streak ended abruptly. Though the decision was made by McAdoo, John Mara could have overruled the decision and demanded that Eli remain the starter.
Manning has never been one to talk about individual accomplishments, but you know he took pride in the streak and always being out there with his teammates. The lack of respect he was shown in being benched must still bother him, making it so much easier to walk out the door and take up the pigskin for another team.
2. Reunited with Tom Coughlin
The love and admiration Coughlin has for Manning was evident during his exit press conference following the 2015 season. He also spoke very highly of Manning a few weeks ago following Manning’s benching, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Full, complete Tom Coughlin quote on Eli Manning today pic.twitter.com/RCmKzsLeBE
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) November 28, 2017
Coughlin and Manning have as close to a father/son relationship as a coach and player can ever have. Coughlin is the VP of football operations for the Jaguars, and he would love to have Manning be his quarterback in 2018. Many feel the 9-4 Jaguars are a veteran signal-caller away from being true Super Bowl contenders.
With Manning on the Jaguars next season, these two will have a good chance of winning their third Super Bowl together.
3. Revenge is sweet
The Giants play the AFC South next season which means they’ll play the Jacksonville Jaguars. When these two teams played last in 2014 and the Jaguars won 25-24, the game was in Jacksonville. Next year’s contest will be at MetLife Stadium.
The idea of coming back to the place he called home for 14 years and hearing the ovation of the fans—and having a chance to prove to Giants ownership that they were wrong for benching him—might intrigue Manning.
Whether he admitted it or not, the revenge narrative would be real.
4. Makes financial sense for the Giants to move on
According to Spotrac, Manning carries a $22.2 million cap hit in 2018. The Giants will need to have as much money as possible to rebuild the offensive line and to offer a long-term deal to Odell Beckham Jr. and others they deem worthy of retaining.
The Giants have a ton of issues and it won’t be a quick fix to resolve them. By the time they are able to have a solid offensive line and weed out the bad apples in the locker room, Manning will be 39 or 40. Giants will need to part ways with him to begin the rebuilding process.
5. The Giants will draft a quarterback in the first round
Prior to being fired, former general manager Jerry Reese went out to the UCLA vs. USC game on Nov. 18 to scout quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold.
The Giants have a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL Draft locked up. Hopefully, this will be the last time they pick that high for a long time, so the chance to select one of the two quarterbacks in this year class will be too good to pass up.
It wouldn’t make sense for the Giants to have Manning along with Davis Webb and either Rosen or Darnold on their roster next season, because the best way to groom a young quarterback is to play them. The Giants aren’t going to make the same mistakes the Jets did and carry two young quarterbacks on the roster without knowing if either of them is a possible long-term answer at the position.
So expect the Giants to part ways with Manning and have Webb compete with Rosen or Darnold to be the starter in 2018.
While we might not be able to imagine Eli Manning in a completely different uniform, that’s what we’ll see next year. And Giants fans, it won’t be pretty when he returns to his former stomping grounds.