There is much hullabaloo in New York Giants-land about General Manager Jerry Reese dropping the “bombshell” this week that the organization has begun to look for its next franchise quarterback, they guy they hope will eventually replace the now-36-year-old Eli Manning.
Here is what Reese said Monday during his season-ending press conference:
“We always think about every position. But Eli is 36, and we have started to think about who is the next quarterback, and who is in line, so we will look into that as we move into the offseason.”
That, of course, has the Inter-Google speculating about how early the Giants will select a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft. Like it’s a fait accompli that they will do exactly that.
Thing is, Reese’s “bombshell” wasn’t anything of the sort. It wasn’t even news. Reese acknowledged the need to begin thinking about the future during his bye week press conference more than two months ago:
“How long does he have to play? Who could we get in line? Who’s the next guy in line? Like you said, Eli is not going to play forever ...”
Manning just completed his 13th season. He won’t stay indestructible. He won’t maintain his arm strength.
Thing is, there is no need for the Giants to push the panic button. There is no need for them to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick at No. 23 or mortgage a bunch of picks to move into the top five to do the same.
This is what I wrote when Reese made his initial remarks, and I stand by it:
As I have said previously, it isn’t imperative that the Giants find that successor this offseason. It is imperative that they begin looking for a guy they think can lead the franchise once Manning is gone, and that they make a move when they believe they have identified the right quarterback.
Here is the rest of the Reese quote above:
“ ... we still think he has a lot of football left in him.”
Statistically, Manning’s completion percentage of 63 percent was up from 62.6 in 2015. Most of his numbers, however, were slightly worse than a season ago. Passing yards (4.432-4,027), touchdowns (35-26), interceptions (14-16), interception rate (2.3-2.7 percent), yards gained per pass attempt (7.2-6.7), yards per completion (11.5-10.7), passing yards per game (277-251.7) and passer rating (93.6-86.0).
What is difficult to assess, though, is how much of that was due to Manning and how much was due to issues around him. Those include poor offensive line play, lack of a reliable running attack, no real threat at tight end, perhaps even the play-calling and overall offensive philosophy. Perhaps it was a little of all of those things, Manning included. There’s no way around the fact that he did miss some throws during the season.
Coach Ben McAdoo said this week that Manning still has some quality football in front of him.
“Eli, to me, was moving better in the pocket than he has since I got here. He threw with tremendous zip all season. He had a couple come out funny, but a lot of guys do in weather games,” McAdoo said. “I don't see anything from this year that says he can't play at a high level.”
Manning has three seasons left on his four-year, $84 million contract. The Giants don’t need to replace him now, and with the holes they have on the roster it would seem imprudent to use a high draft pick on a player who likely spend most, if not all, of his time sitting for the next couple of seasons. If you find someone in the middle to late portions of the draft you believe you might be able to develop, fine, but it’s not time to invest an early pick.
The best course of action, in my view, is to use those high draft picks and available free-agent dollars to supplement the roster and give Manning the best possible chance of taking the Giants to a third Super Bowl title before his time is done.