Owning the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft with a new front office and coaching staff leaves a lot of unknowns heading into the 2018 NFL season. One thing we do know is Eli will be 38 years old next season. Entering his 15th NFL season. He will also be transitioning into his 3rd offensive system. His last transition at age 34 didn’t end smoothly, exemplified by the decrease in production from 2015 to 2017.
In 2017 Eli threw for his lowest passing yardage in almost a decade. A season coupled with the second lowest touchdowns total of his career, minus 2004 when Kurt Warner was the starter to begin the season. Now Eli is faced with adapting to a new system under Head Coach Pat Shurmur, who is also the play caller.
Can he handle it?
According to ESPN Gettleman spoke with Eli since being hired as General Manager, he cited the Week 15 Eagles game as “not a mirage.” A contest in which Eli threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, one interception while completing over 63% of his throws. More recently at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama Gettleman stated, “With the 2nd pick we are going to take the best player available. They screamed at me in Carolina. We need to draft a tackle. If the value is not there when you pick you’re going to make a mistake. We’re going to set ourselves up so that we take the best player available. And if the best player is a quarterback, then that’s what we are going to do.”
Eli Manning’s Carrer Stats
On January 26th, the Giants formally introduced Pat Shurmur as the 18th head coach in franchise history. He did not dodge any questions and looked quite dapper (the suit fit!) in comparison to the last head coach introduction. When asked about Eli’s he stated, “You know, I watched Eli throw a little bit this summer, and I walked away saying he looked really good. He looked fit. He was throwing the ball well…I think he’s got years left. How much, I don’t know. But I think he has time left, and I look forward to working with him.” Is that the truth or an early draft smokescreen?
The Rebuild Repercussions
So let’s say that best player available is a quarterback. In fact, according to Gridiron Experts’ First Mock Draft of 2018 by my colleague, Jacob Hamilton , believes the top 2 players on (and off) the board are Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen. In addition, according to OverTheCap.com Eli carries a 22.2M Cap hit into 2018, 12.4M of which is dead money. That would open up 9.8M in cap space if cut before June 1st.
What could all this mean for Eli? Here are a couple scenarios that I think could happen in order of likelihood.
The Green Bay Replay (Favre and Rodgers)
We all know it is the most difficult positional transition from college to the pros. The playbook, the stage, game speed, and the media! If the Giants draft Mayfield, Rosen, or Darnold it would be highly beneficial for any of them to sit behind Eli and absorb the playbook and the Big Apple. Yes, All accounts are Rosen is NFL ready but is he ready for the Big Apple? Same applies to Mayfield or Darnold for that matter. Also, in hindsight, it might be the best thing that happened to Aaron Rodgers. I strongly believe this is the most likely scenario for 2018. This could also allow Eli to end his career as a Giant. (likelihood <85%)
The Bortles Portal
The connection (bromance) between Eli and Tom Coughlin is real. They have succeeded and struggled together in the toughest market in America. Coughlin now the VP of Football Operations for the Jaguars, who are a quarterback away from a potential Super Bowl run. Coughlin knows Bortles is not the answer! Is 38 year old Eli a real improvement. Would he be able to get them over the hump? Similar to what Peyton did in Denver? Possibly! If the Browns are able to land Kirk Cousins or Tyrod Taylor in Free Agency and draft Saquon Barkley at #1 that would leave the Giants with the QB of their choosing.
If they believe Davis Webb and Rosen/Mayfield can compete for the starting job maybe Eli becomes expendable. I could see Jacksonville or Denver as potential landing spots. This would require Eli to waive his no-trade clause. I think the only team that has any chance of him doing that is Jacksonville. The Giants might get a 2nd but more likely a 3rd in 2019 in return and could potentially save a ton in cap space to fill holes elsewhere. (likelihood >10%)
Cap Space Casualty
Back to the Cap number, Eli carries a 2018 22.2M cap hit. 5M of that is due March 17th, 2018 as a roster bonus. All of the anticipated roster restructuring could potentially equate to tough decisions on who makes the final 53. Do they carry three quarterbacks again? Also, Eli could deny a trade, get cut, collect the 5M, and pick his own next landing spot. (likelihood >5%)
In all honesty, I (selfishly) want Eli to retire a New York Football Giant, what are your thoughts?
Lifelong addict of the New York Football Giants! Kevin is currently moonlighting on the Giants beat for the Gridiron Experts. He is a graduate of West Virginia University and an avid follower of all things Mountaineers! Kevin is also a fantasy football aficionado who got started in the late 1990s, known for his chaotic waiver wire moves!