NFL: How The Giants Shaped Today's NFL

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer INovember 19, 2008

A Look Back On the QB Roulette of 2004

In April of 2004, the New York Giants decided to make Eli Manning’" onclick="return(Jiglu.overlayOpen(this))">Eli Manning their quarterback of the future. With the fourth overall pick in the draft, they chose North Carolina States' Philip Rivers and then traded him along with a package of draft picks to San Diego for Manning.

New York GM Ernie Accorsi took some heavy criticism for this move, from the day it happened to February 4th of this year when Eli was named Super Bowl MVP in the Giants' 17-14 upset win over New England.

Looking back to 2004, I shake my head at the events that led up to this move and how the fates of all involved were changed by it.

Draft day was turning out to be the night of the long knives. The Chargers had the top pick in the draft and took Manning knowing Accorsi wanted him and set a deal in motion.  Manning had stated he would not play for San Diego. The Giants picked Rivers with the fourth pick knowing that the Chargers would take him in package for Manning.

Falling through the cracks, meanwhile, was Ben Roethlisberger, the strong-armed QB out of Miami’" onclick="return(Jiglu.overlayOpen(this))">Miami of Ohio. He would eventually go to Pittsburgh. The Giants almost chose Roethlisberger before pulling the trigger on the Manning deal. As the clock ticked between the first and 4th picks, the Chargers were hardballing Accorsi asking for not only Rivers and draft choices but promising DE Osi Umenyiora as well.

Accorsi balked and almost went for Big Ben, but then the Chargers backed off their request for Osi and the deal was made.

Needless to say, that decision would alter the careers of five of today's top QBs and the fortunes of five NFL teams.

The Giants' starting QB at the time of the move was Kerry Collins. The shine had come off the apple for Collins in NY. The Super Bowl run of four years prior was well in the rear view mirror and the Giants were ready to go in a different direction. Collins was released, Manning was drafted and free agent QB Kurt Warner was brought in to handle the snaps until Eli could get up to speed.

Collins would go through Oakland before landing in Tennessee in 2006, where he has served primarily as a back up to Vince Young. But this season, Young crapped out, and the Titans turned to Collins, who has led them to a 10-0 start here in 2008.

Warner played only one season for New York, giving way to Eli after 10 games in 2004. He ended up in Arizona, who drafted USC's Matt Leinart, hoping that he would solve their QB woes. He hasn't. The Cardinals have given the ball back to Warner, who has returned to the MVP-caliber player he was in St. Louis in the early 2000's.

Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in SB XL. They have continued to build their team around him and are currently in first place in the AFC North at 7-3.

Rivers has become one of the NFL's best passers and fiercest competitors, taking his Chargers to the AFC Championship Game in 2007. He is currently second behind Warner in passer rating this season, even though San Diego has a losing record.

Eli has led the Giants to the playoffs in each of his first 3 full seasons as a starter, culminating with the SB XLII victory last February. This season, he has the Giants at 9-1 after 11 weeks.

This further demonstrates the acumen of the Giants' front office. Look at those players they did not keep and the others they considered. Even with trading their first and fifth round choices in 2005 to San Diego, they still walked away from the draft table with Corey Webster, Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs