The New York Giants are at a crossroads this offseason and have a decision that could have ramifications leading into the next decade.
Eli Manning’s future with the Giants remains very much in doubt. The four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback is, at 38-years old, not the future quarterback of the New York Giants. It remains to be seen, however, if he is the Giants’ quarterback of the present.
At least one former NFL general manager, Jeff Diamond, thinks that the Giants can and should find a role for Manning this year while drafting for their future at the same time.
While Manning could be the answer for 2019, it is clear that more of his Hall of Fame career is in the rearview mirror than ahead of him. In the final year of his contract with the Giants, the team could extend him another year to get some cap relief.
They also could draft his replacement in this April’s NFL Draft, where they hold the sixth pick. Going quarterback in the first round is the way that Diamond thinks the direction this Giants team should go.
“My vision would be the Giants take a quarterback in the first round and this would be Eli’s last hurrah,” Diamond said.
Diamond thinks the Giants can use this as a transition year between Manning and a successor such as Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock or Kyler Murray.
“I think he’ll be there one more year is my inclination, as I consider it.”
“I think they are going to draft a guy and I think it will be in the first round. This is a quarterback-driven league. Yes, Eli is a two-time Super Bowl winner, but he hasn’t been a playoff quarterback for several, but mobility is a major factor in today’s NFL.
“I think they need an injection of new blood to excite the team, excite the fanbase. Eli has had a great career definitely, but the last few years have not been great. He was what, 5-11 last year? I think he’ll be in a similar boat as [Joe] Flacco last year.”
In this scenario, Manning acts as not just the elder statesman, but also a gateway between the current Giants, in the midst of a rebuild, and the future of the Giants under what would be a first-round pick at quarterback next year. It is eerily similar to 2004 when veteran quarterback Kurt Warner served as that bridge between the Giants present and the future.
At that time, the future was a rookie named Manning.
Diamond, a former senior vice president of the Minnesota Vikings and a general manager of the Tennesse Titans, is currently a sports business consultant. He also has a regular column for The Sporting News.
He concedes that the Giants could draft elsewhere with the sixth pick. There are glaring needs at pass rusher and along the offensive line that could be addressed this early in the draft.
Quarterback, however, is the way he’s leaning for the Giants to go.
“That makes the most sense to me but it may not make the most sense with the Giants,” Diamond said.
“They might look and say ‘Hey, there’s a great talent in the edge rushers.’ And they’ve had a lot of success with the [Michael] Strahans and [Osi] Umenyioras
and [Jason] Pierre-Pauls – guys they drafted high and became great pass rushers for them. But it is a quarterback-driven league and I think that makes the most sense.