Why New York Giants Shouldn't Bring Back Eli Manning Next Season
Manning, who turns 37 in January, has delivered two Super Bowl championships during his tenure, an ironman streak of 207 consecutive starts, and a lot of goodwill among the fans both at the games and in the community.
He holds every franchise passing record there is and has assuredly locked up a spot in the team's Ring of Honor. He has also probably done enough to warrant retiring his jersey number or, at the very least, taking it out of circulation like the team did for Michael Strahan's No. 92.
But all good things must come to an end, and that includes Manning's tenure with the Giants. Given that he has a no-trade clause in his contract, it's unlikely the Giants will be able to move him for draft compensation.
While cutting him flat-out is probably something that team ownership doesn't want to do given all that Manning has meant to the franchise, the team's 1-7 record warrants a complete do-over of the front office, coaching staff and roster.
Here are some other reasons why bringing Manning back after this year doesn't make sense.
His Cap Figure
Manning will carry a $22 million cap figure next season, per Over the Cap. As part of that figure, he’s due a $5 million roster bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus.
If the Giants were to remove his cap figure from the books, they’d be hit with a hefty $12.4 million dead-money figure while realizing just a $9.8 million savings.
For those who might be intimidated by the dead-cap figure, the Giants could instead designate Manning as a post-June 1 transaction, which would mean a $16 million cap savings and a $6.2 million dead-money figure in 2018 and 2019.
By going the post-June 1 route, the Giants could then use the cap space to address other contracts such as receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s and safety Landon Collins', both of whom should easily take up Manning’s cleared cap space in 2018.
They Have to Prepare for the Future
Manning has been the picture of reliability and durability, which has been a good thing for the Giants. However, the drawback is they’ve been living on the edge a bit in that they have never had a chance to find out what they have behind Manning.
This year the Giants drafted Davis Webb in the third round to presumably be Manning’s heir. At some point, they’re going to need to find out what they have in Webb, lest he becomes yet another Giants third-round pick that doesn’t pan out. The problem is that the coaching staff has been reluctant to turn to Webb so far this year, probably because Manning, rightfully so, gives them the best chance to win.
If, however, the Giants find themselves with a top-three draft pick next year and a blue-chip franchise quarterback happens to be sitting there for them, they would be foolish to pass on that—and even more foolish to spend a first-round pick to sit behind an aging quarterback who seems determined to exit the game on his terms.
The Changing Passing Game
The NFL has long been known as a copycat league, and the hottest fad these days is to have a mobile quarterback under center who can extend the play.
There is a good reason for that. With the current CBA limiting what teams can do contract-wise during the spring and summer, offensive linemen can take a little longer to develop. Having a mobile quarterback, though, can help ease some of the sting that comes with being patient while the offensive line gels.
Manning is a throwback—a classic pocket passer who rarely moves around in the pocket unless he has to. Even when he has to, it’s generally not pretty nor effective.
If the Giants want to keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, and if they are going to stick with the West Coast offense, they need to start looking at getting a quarterback who isn’t going to be a sitting duck back there.
His Skills Are Sliding
To be fair, Manning has been hamstrung for the last few years between playing behind an offensive line that leaks like a sieve and, more recently having that same problem plus losing his top receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, all of whom, by the way, have combined to account for eight dropped passes this season alone.
The lack of supporting talent aside, Manning has struggled to raise the level of competition around him. He’s missing wide-open receivers, as was the case on a couple of passes last week, one to Shepard who would have been gone had he caught it.
Since peaking at a career-high 35 touchdowns in 2015, his totals in that category have declined each year (26 in 2016 and 12 so far this year).
The other issue with Manning? Six fumbles, three of which he’s lost this year. Again, part of the problem has been his lack of protection, but Manning still needs to do his part in protecting the ball.
While one might question if wearing a glove on his nonthrowing (left) hand is at fault, the truth is that Manning is averaging five lost fumbles over the last three seasons.
Manning is still a better quarterback than most, but there’s little question that, all things considered, his skills are eroding as he ages.
It's Too Late for Him to Start Over
Manning is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the NFL, and if anything, he proved it in 2014 when the Giants reversed course and installed a brand-new offensive system and philosophy.
But if the Giants go ahead and fire head coach Ben McAdoo and the assistant coaches and bring in a new head coach with a different philosophy, it would be unfair to ask Manning to learn a new offense all over again at this stage in his career.
Moreover, if the Giants are going to clean house, they really need to make it a clean sweep across the board—and yes, that sadly includes Manning.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.