Eli Manning is getting his $5 million roster bonus. That means he will be the New York Giants quarterback in 2019.
There is, of course, a segment of both the fan base and the media flabbergasted by the idea that after six losing seasons in seven years the Giants will continue down the road into 2019 with the 38-year-old Manning returning for a franchise-record 16th NFL season.
That angst is, honestly, normal. It’s to be expected. There is unrest in the fan base because the Giants have been bad for most of the past seven years. Even the one year they were good it was mostly because of the defense, not Manning’s offense.
Quarterbacks, as we know, generally get too much credit when things go well. They get too much blame when things go wrong. That is just part of playing the single most important position in the sport of football.
GM Dave Gettleman teased the Manning-weary section of the fan base earlier in the offseason by hinting that he might to open to quarterback alternatives. The Giants have to move on. Soon. Maybe they should have moved on a year ago.
A question. Realistically, what alternative to Manning was available this offseason that CLEARLY would have made the Giants a better football team in 2019?
Acquiring Case Keenum, Joe Flacco or Ryan Tannehill via trade?
Signing Nick Foles, who has never played a full season anywhere or been successful outside of Philadelphia? Teddy Bridgewater? Tyrod Taylor.
Drafting a quarterback and starting the rookie Week 1? Not in this class. Maybe there are guys who will be successful down the line, but not guys who should be leading teams from Day 1. Maybe one of those guys will be learning from Manning this year, and playing by season’s end.
At this point in his career Manning is a generally average (some would say below average) quarterback. Debating what he is, and isn’t, is pointless.
Manning has a $23.2 million cap hit. Realistically, though, that’s a middle of the road salary for a starting quarterback in the current market. His average salary is 14th among quarterbacks and his cap hit is seventh. Ben Roethisberger has the identical cap hit and Philip Rivers’ numbers is $23 million.
I know the Giants could save $17 million against the cap by cutting Manning. That, though, ignores the fact that a move like that might have actually cost the Giants money. Foles has a four-year, $88 million deal with a $12 million cap hit this year that escalates to $22.125, $26.875 and $27 million the next three seasons. Flacco has a $22.55 million 2019 cap hit.
Would the Giants really have saved money by moving on?
We have been making these points for a while. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reiterated many of them Friday during an appearance on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast:
“I’m sorry for all the people out there who want to blame it all on Eli Manning, it’s not his fault. The defense has stunk, the line has stunk, you can go up and down the roster and see people that under-performed ...
“The biggest reason he is coming back is they don’t have a good Plan B. Taking a chance on Teddy Bridgewater’s knee wasn’t going to be a good Plan B. Spending $25 million on a 30-year-old Nick Foles who’s never had a full season, only been good in Philadelphia, that wasn’t going to be a good Plan B. Just handing the ball to draft pick on Day 1 in a draft where people are a little bit down on the quarterbacks, that’s wasn’t going to be a good Plan B, either.”
There was always going to be a “bridge” quarterback under center for the Giants in 2019. Someone the organization felt was capable of playing the position successfully and, perhaps, helping to groom a young quarterback.
The Giants chose to stick with Manning. They aren’t banking the future of the organization on him. He’s just holding down the fort a little bit longer. The more important remains finding the right guy to follow him.