Eli Manning’s relationship with the New York Giants is in tatters. After forcing a trade to them in 2004 and then winning the Super Bowl with them in 2007 and 2011, the manner in which Eli Manning was unceremoniously pushed aside last week was dreadful.
Much has been made of the Giants decision to bench him and end his 210-game starting streak, but that is done now. The milk is spilt and there is no use in discussing how it ended up on the floor.
However, it is clear that the competitive fire still burns inside Eli. After Sunday’s game, and he re-iterated his desire to be back on the field and playing next season. The only question is; where?
New York Giants
The Giants have Eli Manning under contract until the end of the 2019 season. So he isn’t going anywhere else unless they say so. However, there is no doubt that the relationship between Eli and the team is severely damaged.
General manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo have just been fired, clearing the way for Eli’s relationship with the team to be somewhat mended. However, there is no doubt that ownership was on-board with the move to bench Manning as well, and their swift dismissal of those publicly responsible for the decision is as calculated as it was justified.
The Giants are currently sitting in the #2 spot in the draft, giving them a very valuable chip come draft season. While the Cleveland Browns are likely to take who they consider the best quarterback available, whoever the new general manager and head coach is could easily fall in love with one of the several strong quarterbacks expected to come out this year and select them, leaving Eli on the outside.
The Giants will save $10 million on their 2018 cap by moving on from Eli, which is a good incentive to do so, and could recoup some draft choices from desperate teams after a veteran arm by trading him. However, Eli’s $5 million roster bonus vests on March 18th, before the draft, and he has a full no-trade clause.
The Giants will not have the luxury of waiting until draft day and playing the market on both Eli and that #2 pick and work the best deal. They will have to make a decision about their quarterback long before they get on the clock, which severely weakens their hand.
I would suspect that ownership rather Eli Manning’s contract come off the books one way or another, but it would be to Eli’s benefit, both contractually and in landing spot, if he forced them to cut him.
If Eli doesn’t stay in blue, the Jaguars seem like the most viable other option. The team is currently run by his old coach Tom Coughlin, and they are in need of a quarterback for next season.
Blake Bortles is once again having an extremely inconsistent year under center for the Jags yet again, and he currently stands to cost $19 million against the 2018 cap. That is a high hit for someone of Matthew Stafford’s talents, never mind a rollercoaster like Bortles. With the defense firing on all cylinders and the running game ready to explode, it would seem that an immediate upgrade at quarterback would create a Super Bowl contender in Jacksonville.
Manning is unlikely to be traded within the NFC, making a deal with Jacksonville even more possible. And what is not to like about no state income tax when you are making upwards of $15 million a year?
John Elway’s best asset as general manager in Denver is that he is a salesman. He charmed and convinced Peyton Manning into Bronco orange, and it wouldn’t be impossible to get the little brother in too. The Broncos are seemingly set to sweep their quarterback room clean in the offseason, and not only do they have good defensive pieces that can support an offense but they have a reasonable offensive line and two very good receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to help him.
The sibling rivalry between Peyton and Eli has never been emphasized in the media spotlight, but you know it is there. They both have two Super Bowls to their name, but Peyton is the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. What would be better for Eli than to follow in his brother’s footsteps of having a second career in Denver only then to better it?
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