New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman hinted Wednesday that starting quarterback Eli Manning will return next season, but added the front office is planning to select the best player available with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, even if it's another QB.
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post passed along comments from Gettleman, who noted Manning's strong performance against the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15 "was not a mirage." He added that won't change the team's draft outlook, though.
"With the second pick we're gonna take the best player," he said. "They screamed at me in Carolina, 'You got to draft a tackle, you got to draft a tackle.' If the value's not there when you pick, you're gonna make a mistake. We're gonna set ourselves up so we can take the best player available and if the best player available is a quarterback, that's what we're gonna do."
Manning endured an up-and-down 2017 campaign that included getting benched for the Giants' Week 13 clash with the Oakland Raiders. It marked the first time since his rookie season in 2004 that another quarterback started a game for the organization.
In all, the 37-year-old Ole Miss product completed 61.6 percent of his throws for 3,468 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games.
Gettleman wouldn't expand on what went wrong with the Giants offense—"I'm not going there"—but said he's in agreement with new head coach Pat Shurmur about the veteran QB and discussed the potential downside of going all-in on one of the position's top prospects, per Schwartz.
"If you take a guy just to take a guy, especially at the quarterback position, and he fails, you set yourself back five years. There are teams that are in what I call quarterback hell," he said. "They got a quality defense, they've got a good special teams and they're going 9-7 and 8-8, 9-7 and now if there is a legitimate guy, they got to trade up and give away the farm to get the guy."
There's also a financial incentive to stick with Manning. He's under contract through the 2019 season, and releasing him would leave $12.4 million in dead cap space, according to Spotrac.
Six quarterbacks are being discussed as potential first-round options: Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Sam Darnold (USC), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Josh Allen (Wyoming), Lamar Jackson (Louisville) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma). No one has separated himself from the pack yet, however.
If Gettleman doesn't view any of them as a long-term franchise signal-caller, he could opt for a player like NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb or Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, stick with Manning for another year and re-evaluate the sport's most important position in 2019.