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On Tuesday morning, the Giants made it official: They’re pulling the plug on veteran quarterback Eli Manning and turning things over to rookie Daniel Jones.
Essentially, this marks the end of an era for Manning and the Giants. Manning won two Super Bowls with the franchise. But it was obvious the end was near when the Giants used the No. 6 overall draft pick on Jones. Although Manning wasn’t terrible in the first two games, the Giants are in full rebuild mode. So, it makes sense to go with Jones.
What does this mean for Manning? Well, he’s always been a team player and has never made waves, so it’s not hard to imagine him quietly sitting on the Giants’ bench for the rest of the season and, then, gracefully retiring.
But there could be a surprise. Due to injuries or ineffective play, there are some teams out there that could be in the market for a veteran quarterback. Plus, given their current situation, the Giants would probably be thrilled if they could get a draft pick or two in exchange for Manning.
The only drawback is that other teams might be hesitant to pursue Manning because of his salary. He’s in the final year of his contract and has an $11.5 million base salary any team that trades for Manning would have to pick up his pro-rated salary for the remainder of this season.
But there are some teams out there with big problems at quarterback. And desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.
Let’s take a look at eight teams Manning could spend the rest of the season with.
The most likely scenario for Eli Manning is that he will ride out the season with the only team for whom he ever has played. There’s a good chance that his $11.5 million salary would make it prohibitive for another team to trade for him. Even though the New York is a tough media market, it’s unlikely that there would be any major problems or controversies if Manning stays around for the rest of the season. It simply isn’t in Manning’s personality to stir the pot. Plus, even if Jones struggles, Manning’s not going to reclaim his starting job. Once you make a move like this, you stick with it. The only way Manning would play again is if Jones gets injured.
Marcus Mariota is an average starting quarterback, and backup Ryan Tannehill is a backup for a reason. The Titans are strong just about everywhere else and think they can go deep into the playoffs. But they’re not going to do that with the two quarterbacks currently on their roster. However, Manning is the type of steady quarterback that could take the team a long way.
Manning could keep playing in the same stadium and living in the same place if he were to end up with the Jets. That’s a team that already has endured some terrible luck at quarterback this season. Sam Darnold is out with mononucleosis, and backup Trevor Siemian injured his ankle in Monday night’s loss to Cleveland. Manning could step in and give the Jets instant stability.
Division rivals are usually hesitant to trade with each other. But the Eagles and Giants are in totally different situations this year, and they’re not threats to one another. The Eagles have Super Bowl aspirations, while the Giants are rebuilding. Philadelphia has an excellent quarterback in Carson Wentz, but he’s got an injury history. Adding Manning would be a nice insurance policy and an upgrade over current backup Josh McCown.
Remember who’s running the Jacksonville front office? Yep, it’s Tom Coughlin, the coach who Manning worked with during his most successful days with the Giants. Coughlin is obviously a Manning fan. Plus, Jacksonville starter Nick Foles is out for an extended period with a clavicle injury. Rookie Gardner Minshew has stepped in and played fairly well. But the Jaguars entered the season with big expectations, and they’re off to a disappointing start. Coach Doug Marrone’s job could be on the line. Don’t rule out a Manning/Coughlin reunion.
This scenario is tantalizing. Think about it for a minute. Manning was born and raised in New Orleans, and his family is royalty in that city. Manning might actually love to come to New Orleans. His father, Archie, also likely would be happy to see his son come home. Remember, Archie Manning was a No. 2 overall draft pick by New Orleans and quarterbacked the Saints from 1971 to 1982. And Archie has had a big influence on Eli’s career – it was Archie who orchestrated Eli’s trade to the Giants in the first place. Plus, the Saints will be without Drew Brees for about six weeks. The Saints do have Teddy Bridgewater. But adding Manning is not out of the question. Coach Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis never have been afraid to make daring moves. And bringing Manning home likely would play well with New Orleans fans.
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Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury. The Steelers are going with second-year pro Mason Rudolph, who is totally unproven. Maybe Rudolph can spark a team that is off to an 0-2 start. But if Rudolph struggles and the Steelers fall apart, that could cost coach Mike Tomlin his job. Bringing in Manning might keep the Steelers competitive and solidify Tomlin’s job security.
Manning would make a lot of sense for Chicago. The Bears have an excellent team. But quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is off to a bad start and may never develop into the kind of quarterback the Bears want. In fact, if Trubisky keeps playing like he does, he could drag down a talented team and cost the Bears a playoff berth. Manning has made a career of being a solid, but not elite, quarterback. With very good talent around him, he won two Super Bowls. Put Manning on the Bears and he might be able to get them where they want to go.
Pat Yasinskas has covered the NFL since 1993. He has worked for The Tampa Tribune, The Charlotte Observer and ESPN.com and writes for numerous national magazines and websites. He also has served as a voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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