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Eli Manning staying at quarterback for the Giants, and there are no sure-thing replacement options

It’s open season on the veteran quarterback, but is his time really up?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur addressed the “quarterback question” clearly and succinctly on Friday. There will not be a change at the position and Eli Manning will start when the Giants face the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football in Week 7.

“No,” Shurmur said when asked if such a change could be considered. “We believe in Eli.”

With the Giants at 1-5, Manning coming off a poor game and the Giants headed for yet another disappointing, playoff-less season the question about a quarterback change had to be asked. Shurmur’s answer, though, was entirely predictable. At this point, it was the only one he could give.

The Giants went all in on the idea that Manning could still play and that they could win games and be successful on offense with him. The record is an awful 1-5, but there has been some good mixed in with the bad.

Despite the public perception, and calls like the one I made for the Giants to move on at the end of the season, they can’t do that just yet.

Heading into Thursday’s game they believed they were making progress, and had a 31-point showing against the Carolina Panthers to offer as evidence.

“We lost games. I think what’s important is we keep trying to improve, we keep working, and we keep doing what we can to win the next game. I don’t know anything about expectations,” Shurmur said. “I know there’s reasons why there’s new coaches, I happen to be one of the new coaches in the league from last year, and you’ve got to do what you can to get your locker room right, get everybody playing the right way and coaching the right way, and do it in a way where you can win games.”

For now, that means Manning stays at quarterback.

“We just keep going. Everybody around us is doing the math. We don’t do the math, we just keep playing,” Shurmur said.

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

What about 2019?

I wrote on Friday that “there is no point in going forward beyond this season with Manning as the quarterback.”

So, what are the Giants’ options?

Kyle Lauletta

The Giants really like the fourth-round pick out of Richmond. They chose to work with him rather than Davis Webb as the young backup behind Manning.

The calls for Lauletta to play have already begun. For now, though, Shurmur isn’t having it.

Asked Friday about moving Lauletta up to second string so he would be active on game days, Shurmur said “there’s no reason to discuss that right now” and that “we’re not talking about a quarterback change.”

Make no mistake though, if this season reaches the point of no return the way 2017 did Shurmur and Dave Gettleman will not make the mistake that Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese did. If and when the Giants are eliminated from the playoffs I fully expect that Lauletta is going to play.

If and when that time comes, Lauletta will have an opportunity to show whether or not he deserves an opportunity to be the quarterback in 2019.

The 2019 NFL Draft

Fans are already speculating about the possibility of the Giants drafting Justin Herbert of Oregon or Drew Lock of Missouri, right now the top college quarterbacks expected to be available in the draft.

There is really no point in arguing about the viability of drafting any college quarterback at this point. We have no idea how the rest of the season will play out at the college or NFL level, where the Giants will be drafting, who will be available, how the pre-draft process will play out. Still, get used to hearing names like Herbert, Lock, Ryan Finley and whoever else gets added to the conversation.

Free agency

Teddy Bridgewater is expected to hit the market, and he has ties to Shurmur from the Minnesota Vikings. Other than that, it’s names like Tyrod Taylor, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trevor Siemian.

Of course, there could be someone out there languishing on a team’s bench that Shurmur or Gettleman really like who could emerge as a mystery candidate. We’ll see.

Eli Manning

Wait? What? I know you’re thinking “wasn’t this supposed to be about who would replace Manning in 2019?” Well, actually it’s about who will be the Giants’ quarterback in 2019.

Fact is, despite what you, me or anyone else other than Gettleman, Shurmur and John Mara think should happen doesn’t matter. As we sit here, it’s entirely possible they will end up deciding that Manning remains their best option for 2019.

Leading up to the season, Gettleman made it clear that he still believed in Manning. At times, when he is comfortable in the pocket, we have seen that Manning can justify that faith.

Manning, though, has been sacked 20 times and hasn’t been comfortable in the pocket often enough.

Manning is still under contract for 2019. The Giants could save $17 million by moving on, but would still incur $6.2 million in dead money. What if, over the next 10 games, Gettleman, Shurmur and Mara decide that the offensive line is still a bigger problem than Manning and they don’t want to jettison the two-time Super Bowl winner until they take one more shot at upgrading the offensive line in front of him?

Unthinkable for some. Still, however, possible.