Sooner than later the New York Giants will need to decide on whether to have Eli Manning as their starting quarterback for the 2019 season.
The NFL offseason is officially here and now, all 32 teams are evaluating their roster and strategizing on what moves they need to make en route to the Lombardi Trophy next February at Super Bowl 54.
The biggest decision the New York Giants need to make in the offseason is whether or not to bring back the greatest quarterback in the history of the franchise, 38-year-old Eli Manning.
Manning is not the quarterback he used to be, but he showed that he still has some football left in him. His 4,299 yards were ninth best in the league, and his 66 percent completion percentage was the best of his career.
But his 21 touchdowns were tied for 17th most in the league. But when you play with Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram, you would expect him to have more touchdown passes.
So therein lies the question, “Do the Giants bring Manning back as the starter who is entering the final year of his contract, or do they start fresh by drafting a quarterback such as Dwayne Haskins or sign a free agent quarterback such as Nick Foles, who informed the Eagles his opting out of his contract?”
Here are the pros and cons for the Giants in having Manning as the starter in 2019:
He knows the offense
We saw as the year progressed, Manning the entire unit felt more comfortable in Pat Shurmur’s offense. The boys began to click in the second half of the season.
In the first eight games of the season, the Giants went 1-7, averaged 18 points per game, and scored 30 points once. In the last eight games of the season, the Giants went 4-4, scored 30 points four times, and averaged 27 points per game.
Having played a full season in Shurmur’s offense to go along with the progression of Barkley and left guard Will Hernandez, Manning and the Giants offense start the 2019 season, the same way they ended the 2018 season.
Well respected in the locker room
Manning has always been one of the most respected players in the NFL throughout his career. Even despite the Giants going 8-24 over the last two seasons, he’s never thrown a player or coach under the bus or had anything derogatory to say.
This is an attribute of Manning that cannot be ignored. He’s not a vocal leader but he leads by example and you need high character players in the locker room.
If the Giants part ways with Manning and bring in another quarterback, who knows how their demeanor will affect the locker room.
There’s a saying that a player’s best ability is their availability, and Manning proved last season that he’s as durable as ever. Despite being sacked 47 times and pressured constantly during the first half of the season, he never missed a snap due to an injury.
The only time he’s missed a start in his career was in 2017 when Ben McAdoo benched him for the Giants Week 13 matchup against the Raiders.
The Giants are one of the few teams in the league that never feels the quarterback-injury worry.
His contract limits what they can do in free agency
Manning is due to make $23.2 million dollars in 2019 and that number puts a strain on what the Giants can do in free agency. It’s obvious to everyone that the Giants need to revamp their defense and solidify their offensive line.
Upgrading these positions will be difficult when you’re paying a 38-year-old quarterback that amount of money.
Delays the inevitable
While it’s uncertain if Manning will be the Giants quarterback in 2019, it’s almost a lock that he won’t be the quarterback in 2020. Unless he’s lights out this upcoming season and takes the Giants to the playoffs, it’s hard to envision Manning on the team in 2020.
Unless ownership and Gettleman feel the Giants can truly contend for a title in 2019, it would be in the best interest of the franchise long term to draft a rookie quarterback and have him play immediately to gain valuable experience and be ready to take it to the next level in 2020.
Teams with quarterbacks on a rookie contract are having success as evidenced by six of the 12 teams that made the playoffs, were led by quarterbacks with three years of playing experience or less.
Could see more regression
Father time defeats everyone, and it’s hard to fathom being better at 38 than he was at 37. He was never an athletic quarterback. He’s even less mobile than he was in years past, and he wasn’t great throwing the deep ball.
He missed several deep throws at critical times and failed to have a 40-yard touchdown pass all season. In contrast, Beckham had two touchdown passes of at least 40 yards.
We could see more regression of Manning which will result in another double-digit loss season for the New York Giants.