The biggest decision for the New York Giants this offseason is what to do with their 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning.
The two Super Bowl titles Eli Manning brought to the city has made him a New York legend, and the fact that he’s in the top 10 all-time in passing yards and touchdowns will land the New York Giants QB in the Hall of Fame one day.
But the NFL is a cruel business and teams will have to eventually move on from fan favorites and players that have helped them win championships.
Manning still has two years remaining on his contract, but after coming off a 3-13 season, with the Giants having the second pick in the draft and a young quarterback in Davis Webb already on the roster, his future with Big Blue is very cloudy.
He does have a no-trade clause, but after going through a season where his consecutive start streak was snapped due to him being benched for Geno Smith, he might be open to waiving his no-trade clause. Especially if the conversation he has with general manager Dave Gettleman does not go smoothly.
For as many reasons as there is to bring him back, there are just as many reasons to part ways with Manning.
1. Best option available
Since the Giants have the second pick in the draft they can select one of the top two quarterback prospects in this year’s draft in UCLA’s Josh Rosen or USC’s Sam Darnold.
Rosen and Darnold might have bright NFL futures ahead of them, but neither of them nor Davis Webb will be better than Manning in 2018.
Young quarterbacks go through growing pains as they get accustomed to the speed of the NFL, and you can expect Rosen, Darnold or Webb would have more downs than ups in 2018.
Some will say Manning is on the decline and that 2017 was proof of it with his dismal 41.7 QBR. But, in fairness to Manning, it’s hard to truly gauge his effectiveness in 2017 when he lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall for the season in Week 5. Plus, he has been playing behind a poor offensive line that no quarterback could thrive in.
With a healthy OBJ and the Giants seeming to make an effort this offseason to improve the offensive line, Manning can have a bounce-back 2018 and show that he’s still in the top half of quarterbacks in the NFL.
— New York Giants (@Giants) December 17, 2017
2. Most respected player on the team
Nobody is more respected in the Giants locker room than Manning. He never throws a player or coach under the bus, and always says the right thing when addressing the media.
To have a quarterback leading you on the field and showing young players how to carry themselves is an intangible that you cannot take for granted. As dysfunctional as the Giants locker room was this season, it would have been worse if Manning wasn’t there. His presence off and on the field will be needed in 2018.
3. Can learn the new offense quickly
With offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan becoming the Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach, we don’t know what offense the Giants will run in 2018. But with Manning’s experience playing in different offenses, he’ll be able to comprehend and execute whatever offense the Giants decide to go with for 2018.
1. He’s 37 years old
Manning turned 37 a few days ago, and as the case with most quarterbacks his age, he’s been on a steady decline.
He was never known as a workout warrior, which could have helped him achieve his 210 consecutive game streak because his muscles were loose. But as he approaches 40, not being a gym rat could be to his determent.
He would show signs that he can still be a top-tier quarterback when he threw for 434 yards against the Eagles in Week 15, but then he would look like a shot quarterback the following week against the Cardinals when he threw for 263 yards and had three turnovers.
Nkemdiche for the TD.
That rhymes…kinda. pic.twitter.com/31Iq57zrrS
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 24, 2017
Up-and-down play is common for quarterbacks around Manning’s age and this trend will likely continue in 2018
2. Financial strain on salary cap
Manning’s cap hit for 2018 is $22.2 million. That’s a steep price for an aging quarterback and a team that’s rebuilding with several holes to fill.
If the Giants cut Manning, they would free up $9.8 million in cap space, allowing them to be more aggressive in free agency.
3. Delays the rebuilding process
It’s not just the fact that the Giants are coming off a 3-13 season, it’s also the fact that they have missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.
The Giants’ 11-5 record in 2016 is misleading since they had a six-game winning streak against the Ravens, Rams, Eagles, Bengals, Bears and Browns, teams that finished the 2016 season with a combined record of 29-66-1.
Bottom line is this: The team has not been amongst the NFL elite since they won Super Bowl 46, and all this time Manning has been under center.
With all of the holes the Giants have, it’s unlikely they’ll be Super Bowl contenders in the two years Manning has left on his contract. They might as well see if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause, get something back for him, and start a young quarterback who can help the Giants long-term.