New York Giants: Let Eli Manning Walk


Why the New York Giants shouldn’t wager their future on Eli Manning

Every new NFL season brings with it a mix of excitement, optimism, expectations, and question marks.

The 2015 New York Giants team is no exception. There is plenty of excitement about Odell Beckham Jr. and what a 16 game season would mean for the Giants offense in year two of offensive coordinator Ben Mcadoo’s west coast offense, especially considering that the team has had a season to adjust to the new scheme. Optimism that young players like Devon Kennard and Weston Richburg will continue to develop into reliable starters. Expectations that the defense will improve by playing a more aggressive attack style scheme with the return of former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to run the defense.

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And plenty of question marks. Will Jason Pierre-Paul play? How will the offensive line play? Who will play safety?Last but not least; if and when will Eli Manning sign a contract?

Eli Manning is a great quarterback that deserves more credit than he deserves. If his last name did not start with the letters MAN and end with ING, I believe he would be considered as elite as Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Joe Flacco.

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He is also going to be 35 at the start of next season. He enters the season with the longest streak for consecutive starts with 167 starts, and is reportedly demanding a long-term contract that will make him the highest paid Quarterback in the NFL.

The toll of playing football for so long and so often begins to affect every player eventually. No player is invincible. Manning is more susceptible to an injury having a longer term negative impact on his play than others who are younger and have had time off during their careers.

The important question is when, and under what scenario will it be a signal to the New York Giants front office and coaches that it is time to move on from Eli Manning?

If Manning puts himself before the team with contract demands that are too high and will jeopardize their future, the Giants need to move on from him.

Here is a scenario where, if the Giants sign him for too much, it could backfire against them.

Manning resigns for five-years at an average salary of $22 million a season, taking up most of the Giants’ salary cap. Year one of the deal he is injured and misses significant time. The injury lingers into years two and three of the deal, and he never returns to the same level of play he was o before the injury.

Having so much money invested in him, the team is unable to keep a high level of talent around him. Players like Beckham Jr. and Kennard may be due for big time contracts if they continue to develop. Without money to sign those players, the collective talent of the whole team would downgrade.

Dec 21, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) calls a play at the line against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Another scenario would be the Giants signing Manning to a big deal, and not parting with him because they want him to retire as a Giant.

It almost happened to the Indianapolis Colts. The Indianapolis Colts went 1-15 after Peyton Manning missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury. He was due a lot of money the next season, and with the Colts holding the first pick in the draft, they had to choose between remaining loyal to one of their best all-time players, or rebuilding. They chose to rebuild. It wasn’t an easy decision. If not for the fact they had the chance to draft Andrew Luck, a player projected to be as good as Peyton, I believe Peyton Manning would still be playing for the Colts.

This leads us to Eli’s potential successor Ryan Nassib, a fourth round pick the Giants uncharacteristically traded up for, and the reason why the Giants could afford to make the same decision the Colts did four seasons ago if need be.

Many analysts had him pegged to go in the top ten of the 1st round of the 2013 draft to the Buffalo Bills where he would’ve to joined his former head coach from Syracuse, Doug Marrone.

The skills that had him with such a high draft grade have been evident every time he has played. He has showed poise, and put up stellar numbers while gaining valuable experience in the NFL. He may not be as talented as Luck, but he has shown the skills necessary to be a long term answer at quarterback, allowing the Giants the leverage and confidence to move on from Manning if that is what is best for the team.

I wish Eli many more years of injury free, highly productive seasons. If Eli Manning takes the high road and signs to a team friendly deal that allows the Giants flexibility to re-sign current players and acquire new free agents, by all means sign him. But if he turns greedy and is more concerned with being the highest paid player in the league, he can find another team to play for.

In that case, the Giants are better off without him.

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