As the New York Giants prepare to possibly draft his successor on Thursday night, Eli Manning may be willing to play elsewhere in 2020.
With two first-round picks and Eli Manning heading into the final year of his contract, the New York Giants may very well draft a quarterback on Thursday night. But according to ESPN’s Sal Palantonio (via Pro Football Talk), the two-time Super Bowl MVP intends to play “somewhere” in 2020.
If the Giants draft someone Thursday night (Daniel Jones? Dwayne Haskins?), or trade for Josh Rosen after the Arizona Cardinals draft Kyler Murray, Manning is unlikely to be offered a new contract. So if he wants to play in 2020, at age 39 (and approaching 40) it stands to be for another team.
It has been believed that Manning wants to spend his entire career with one team. A willingness to play for someone other than the Giants has to be met with one of the other 31 teams being willing to sign him, even as a veteran backup, and that will be a limited market.
That said, even with the eye test showing a multi-season decline, Manning put up some good numbers last season. He set a career-high for completion percentage (66 percent), with the fourth-highest yardage total of his career (4,299), his third-highest yards per attempt (7.5), his third-highest adjusted yards per attempt (7.3) and his fourth-best passer rating (92.4). His QBR (51.2) and touchdown total (21) leave a lot to be desired, but Manning also took a career-high 47 sacks in 2018.
If he performs well in 2019, Manning should, as a practical matter, be putting together audition tape for another team. Giants’ general manager David Gettleman has been consistently complementary of Manning, but he himself has said he expects the team to draft a quarterback this year.
If Manning plays out his final season or two elsewhere, he will join a long list of notable NFL players who did not play their entire career with one team. It might not be as sad to see as the depleted states of others in the past, but it’s weird to imagine Manning in anything other than Giants’ blue.