The Future of Eli Manning: Evaluating all Future Quarterback Options for the Giants
The Eli Manning era in New York is coming to an end, so what should the Giants plan at the quarterback position be going forward?
The 2018 NFL season has come to an end.
After finishing the season with a unimpressive 5-11 record, the Giants have missed the playoffs for the eighth time in the last 10 years. Pouring more salt into the wound, the Giants have a combined record of 8-24. Only the Cleveland Browns have been worse over that stretch with a record of 7-24-1. Even the Browns finished with a much improved record of 7-8-1, and appear to be heading in the right direction. Meaning the Giants, on the other hand, are now at the bottom of the NFL with no bright future in sight. And a big reason for this is the production, or lack-thereof, the Giants are getting from the quarterback position.
Let’s face reality Giants Nation, Eli Manning is no longer the quarterback that lead the Giants to two Super Bowls. In 31 games over the past two season, Eli has thrown 40 TDs to 24 INTs, as well as 7767 yards. That’s an average of 20 TDs, 12 INTs, and 3883.5 yards per season. Furthermore, his passer rating is just 86.4 over that span.
While there are undeniably other problems with the Giants aside from Eli, there’s also no denying that those numbers are simply underwhelming, especially when you look at quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady all leading their teams to the conference championship. More often than not, you need at least above average quarterback play to contend for championships in today’s passing league. Eli Manning has proven that he is no longer capable of providing the Giants that consistently enough for them to compete for a title.
So now we have to ask the question, how do the Giants do about their quarterback situation? It’s time to dive in and look at all of the options the Giants have on the table at the most important position in all of sports?
90 percent of the time, the best way to address the quarterback position is through the draft. The Giants had the opportunity to draft Eli’s potential replacement last year in a loaded quarterback draft class with the second overall pick. Instead, new general manager Dave Gettleman opted for running back Saquon Barkley. There’s no denying that Barkley is a generational talent, but the decision to draft him and not a quarterback leaves the Giants with a hole at the position.
So now we look at the 2019 NFL Draft, in which the Giants have the sixth overall pick. Unlike the 2018 draft, this draft class focuses more on defense and pass rushers, as is not nearly as deep in the quarterback department as last year. Despite this, there are still some solid quarterback options in this years draft, enough to have captured the Giants attention. According to Charlie Campbell of Walter Football, the Giants like three quarterbacks from the 2019 draft class. Specifically, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, and Kyler Murray.
My personal favorite of the bunch is Dwayne Haskins, the quarterback from Ohio State University. Dwayne Haskins. Haskins is widely considered to be the best quarterback from the 2019 class, and for good reason. In his first and only season starting for Ohio State, Haskins completed 70% of his passes, threw for 4831 yards, 50 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a passer rating of 174.1. He set multiple Big Ten records while leading the Buckeyes to a conference championship and a victory in the Rose Bowl.
Even looking beyond the stat sheet, in terms of tools you look for in a franchise quarterback, Dwayne Haskins checks all the boxes. What jumps out at you the most is his natural arm talent. He has the accuracy and arm strength necessary to make all the NFL throws consistently. Another thing to really like about him is his work at the line of scrimmage, particularly his football iq and eye deception. He’s got solid measurables at 6’3″, 220 pounds, with enough mobility to escape pressure and make plays on the run. Most of all, he is a natural leader on and off the field, having the perfect character necessary to play the quarterback position.
So now that we’ve covered the positives, what are some of the knocks on Haskins? The main one is that, since this was his only year starting at Ohio State, he’s only started 14 games in his college career. That is a small sample size to go on when spending a top 10 pick. Furthermore, with the lack of experience, he looked skittish at times under pressure early on in the season. However, his prescience inside and outside of the pocket greatly improved throughout the season. Dwayne Haskins is without a doubt on the top of my draft board for the Giants. He’s the type of quarterback that not only that would I take with the sixth overall pick, but that I would trade up for if necessary.
Another solid draft option for the Giants is Daniel Jones, the quarterback out of Duke University. Jones is more of your prototypical NFL quarterback. He’s got excellent measurables at 6’5″ 220 lbs. In 36 games with Duke, Jones threw for 8201 yards, 52 touchdowns, 29 interceptions for a passer rating of 122.9. His junior season was his best ever, throwing for 2674 yards, 22 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a passer rating of 131.7, leading Duke to an 8-5 record and a victory over Temple University in the Walk-On Independence Bowl. The best thing to like about Daniel Jones is his intermediate accuracy. He throws the ball in a way that makes it very catchable for his receivers, yet hard for defenders to intercept. Most of all, he was coached by Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, the same man that coached both Peyton and Eli Manning.
The biggest flaw with Daniel Jones is his lack of natural arm talent. He does not have the arm strength to make all the NFL throws consistently. Furthermore, he often struggles with throwing the ball into tight windows. These limitations make Daniel Jones a prospect that I like, but not enough to take with a top 10 pick.
Last but not least, we have the big elephant in the room and that is Kyler Murray, the quarterback out of Oklahoma, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Kyler undeniably had a season worthy of the Heisman Trophy completing 69 percent of his passes while throwing for 4361 yards, 42 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 199.2 passer rating while leading Oklahoma to a birth in the college football playoff.
Despite this, I am personally not a fan of the idea of the Giants taking Murray with the sixth overall pick. First of all, he’s vastly undersized for the quarterback position at 5’9″ and 190 lbs. Not even guys like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Baker Mayfield are that undersized. And while Murray did have a great season, he did so in the Big 12 conference, which is notorious for inflating quarterback numbers. There are too many of these question marks about whether or not Murray’s game will translate to the NFL. Just because you won the Heisman and were a great college quarterback, it does not mean you’ll automatically be a great NFL quarterback.
Even going beyond evaluating him as a prospect, there are major question marks surrounding Murray and whether or not he’s truly committed to football. He was drafted ninth overall in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft by the Oakland Athletics. So Murray could easily decide to pursue baseball full time instead. Last but not least, he completely bombed an interview with the Dan Patrick Show, giving questions into whether or not he has the type of character to lead an NFL franchise. There are too many question marks surrounding Kyler Murray for me to feel comfortable spending a high first round pick on him.
Kyler Murray is not acing this. pic.twitter.com/FrdhxXgwyF
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) February 1, 2019
Along with this years class, we have to take into consideration next years class, in which there will be many highly touted quarterback options available, highlighted by Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, and Justin Herbert. Even more so, 2021’s class will likely be highlighted by Trevor Lawrence, who is widely considered to be a generational quarterback prospect. If the Giants aren’t in love enough with any of the quarterback options in this years class, they can always wait. However, this is a very risky plan, as the Giant have no idea where they’ll be picking or how many teams will be also searching for a quarterback in the near future.
Taking all of the draft options into consideration, I believe Plan A for the Giants should be drafting Dwayne Haskins, whether at six or trading up for him. With all the boxes he checks and his connections to the New York Giants organization, it makes all the sense in the world for the Giants to get their guy now. There’s no guarantee the Giants will be in better position to find their quarterback of the future than now. However, if another team ultimately steals Haskins away, waiting until 2020 or 2021 makes for a solid Plan B.
Now that we’ve looked over all the quarterback options in the draft, let’s look at all the options the Giants have to be the bridge quarterback. Or in better words, the quarterback that will start for the Giants until the successor is ultimately found and ready.
Obviously, this discussion has to start with Eli Manning. Believe it or not, I believe bringing Eli back as a placeholder until Haskins or whoever the Giants ultimately draft is ready is the best route for the Giants. Despite his limitations at his age, Eli has proven to me that he can still at least play effectively in the NFL. He finished the 2018 season with a career high in completion percentage at 66.0 percent and his second highest passer rating at 92.4. As a bridge quarterback, Eli Manning returning makes all the sense in the world for the Giants.
The question now is, would Eli Manning be willing to accept this role, and at what salary? Eli Manning said in January 2018 that it is not job to be a mentor for a young quarterback. While it is understandable that Eli still wants to play, the Giants are going to need to find his successor eventually. Furthermore, having a bridge quarterback with a cap hit of $23 million is completely ridiculous. Therefore, the Giants will likely have to restructure Eli’s contract.
An option that could be on the table would be splitting the salary across two seasons, with Eli making 11.5 million for each of the next two seasons. Regardless, would Eli be willing to accept a restructured contract and his new role as the bridge to the next quarterback? If the answer is no, it would ultimately be in the Giants best interest to cut Eli in March. Doing so would save the Giants $17 million. It would be a tough decision to end the Eli Manning era this way, but it has to be on the table.
So let’s assume that the Giants do decide to cut Eli. Then they would have to bring in someone else to be their bridge quarterback. In that category, the first name that comes to mind is Nick Foles, the Super Bowl LII MVP for the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite this and Foles’s success as of late, the Eagles are still committed to Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback. Furthermore, it is rumored that they will use their franchise tag on Nick Foles, then try to trade him for what they expect would be a third round pick in return.
Now if you’re the Giants and you have an opportunity to get a quarterback that just a year ago lead a franchise to their first Super Bowl championship for just a third round pick, you do this trade in a heartbeat. Foles has shown this season that his Super Bowl run was not a fluke. In the last three regular season games, when Foles came in to replace an injured Wentz, he completed 76.9 percent of his passes, threw for 962 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions, a 108.4 passer rating, and lead the Eagles to a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
Furthermore, Foles lead his team to an upset victory over the favorited Chicago Bears in the Wild Card Round before barely losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round. Nick Foles as the Giants bridge quarterback from Eli to whoever they end up drafting makes all the sense in the world.
Along with Nick Foles, there are also plenty of other quarterback options on the market. Some of the names that come to mind are Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, and yes, Colin Kaepernick, but that’s a debate for a completely different article. Regardless, whether it’s through the draft or free agency, the New York Football Giants need to have a long term plan at the quarterback position.
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