Eli Manning

NFC Notes: Verrett, Peppers, Packers

The 49ers are placing a lot of faith in their training and medical staffs, as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle observes (Twitter link). The club’s two major offseason acquisitions, Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford, come with medical red flags, as do new cornerback Jason Verrett and the recently re-signed Jimmie Ward. But Verrett could offer the most bang for San Francisco’s buck.

Verrett’s one-year deal carries a cap charge of just $1.5MM and maxes out at just $3MM. As Branch writes in a separate piece, Verrett has been told that the starting cornerback position opposite Richard Sherman is up for grabs, and Verrett, a 2015 Pro Bowler, is determined to make the most of his chance. He said, “[t]he opportunity is there for me. Wide open. It’s just there for me to take. It’s just for me to get back healthy and get back there on the football field and do what I love to do.” Verrett’s primary competition for the job is Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Eli Manning will not collect his $5MM roster bonus until tomorrow, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv (via Twitter). It had previously been reported that Manning earned his bonus yesterday, all but ensuring that he will remain with the Giants in 2019. But Vacchiano says Manning is still expected to return next season and that he will not be cut within the next 24 hours.
  • Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes that the Giants are very excited about the acquisition of Jabrill Peppers, part of New York’s return in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Per Schwartz, Big Blue sees Peppers as a classic strong safety, but the club will take full advantage of his versatility. Peppers will not line up in the same position from snap to snap and will be asked to line up deep, up near the line, at slot cornerback, and at nickel linebacker. New York brass has been heavily criticized for the OBJ deal, but if Peppers can live up to his draft pedigree, that will go a long way towards the Giants’ rebuild.
  • Eagles top personnel executive Howie Roseman has made it abundantly clear that he does not value the running back position, as Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com observes. Roseman has invested neither top dollar nor top draft capital in running backs, and that remains an area of glaring need at the moment. But since Roseman has built a strong offense and a roster that is in win-now mode, and since he has again avoided the free agent market for running backs, one has to think that he will use one of his three picks in the first two rounds of the 2019 draft to add some talent to the offensive backfield.
  • The Packers made a rare foray into the top end of the free agent market this year, and thus far they have dished out free agent contracts with a total value of $184MM (though less than one-third of that figure is guaranteed). But as Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com notes, Green Bay ranks near the bottom of the league in 2020 salary cap room, and it opted for smaller salary cap hits on its big-ticket FAs this year in exchange for bigger hits down the road. That means that at least a couple of the club’s major signees — Za’Darius SmithPreston SmithAdrian Amos, and Billy Turner — will have to pan out, and GM Brian Gutekunst will have to have a successful draft in order to field a competitive team over the next several seasons, as he will not be able to splurge again next year.

NFC Notes: Giants, Diggs, Easton

Eli Manning collected his $5MM roster bonus Saturday afternoon, essentially ensuring he will be with the Giants for a 16th season. This confirms what has been reported throughout the offseason. Less certain: whether or not this will be the year the Giants draft a true option to be Manning’s successor. After early indications that move would be coming this year, that now appears far from a locked-in strategy. Not only are the Giants not believed to be looking to package their Nos. 6 and 17 picks to move into the top five for a quarterback, sources informed The Athletic’s Mike Lombardi the team is not enamored with any of the passing prospects in this year’s draft (subscription required). This follows an SNY report that pegged the Giants as less bullish on Dwayne Haskins, the most popular Giants mock pick at this point. Issues with Kyler Murray‘s height also may persist among Giants brass, though that may be a moot point given that Murray could be the No. 1 overall pick.

The Giants may be looking to solidify their defense, which is full of holes, instead of using a first-round selection on a quarterback. Shifting away from the Giants, here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Interesting NFL art emerged this weekend. Stefon Diggs‘ brother shared an image of the Vikings wide receiver in a Redskins uniform, but this does not appear to be an indication of another wide receiver trade. A Vikings source emphatically informed ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter there has been no talk of dealing Diggs to Washington (Twitter link). (A Redskins source informed ESPN.com’s Dianna Russini, via Twitter, they may not be in position to make such a move.) The Diggses are from Maryland, which may be at the root of this Photoshop job.
  • Three teams remain in the mix for Nick Easton, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter). The Vikings submitted an offer to their two-year starter, who also visited the Saints. These two comprise two-thirds of the interior lineman’s suitor list, with an unnamed third team also in the mix, per Tomasson. Easton wants to make his decision by Monday. It’s possible Max Unger‘s retirement prompts the Saints to make a stronger push for Easton, but they have two veteran salaries and Andrus Peat‘s fifth-year option price allocated to their offensive line.
  • In case you missed it, the Rams are set to host five-year Jaguars starter Blake Bortles on a visit.

Giants Interested In Josh Rosen; Latest On Eli Manning

The Giants are interested in trading for Cardinals’ QB Josh Rosen, per Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. However, they are unsure as to whether Arizona will actually make him available.

It is unclear exactly how acquiring Rosen would impact the status of Eli Manning, but both Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv and Graziano report that the current plan is to keep Manning in 2019, the last year of his present contract. We had been hearing that for some time, of course, but New York’s decision to trade Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns last night sparked a new wave of speculation that the team could also look to move on from Manning.

That speculation was fueled by the fact that Manning is due a $5MM roster bonus on Saturday — which the Giants could avoid if they cut Manning before that point — and the fact that the team is clearly embracing a full-blown rebuild. But Manning is the best option that New York has, and it’s not as though there is currently a long-term answer on the roster whose development is being hindered by Manning’s presence.

Big Blue did not select one of the best quarterbacks available in a loaded class last year, and the club may not take a first-round signal-caller this year. Although the Giants will do their due diligence on Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, they may have their eye on next year’s more heralded prospects.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been heavily linked to Murray, and there have been plenty of rumors that the club would be willing to trade Rosen and make Murray the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Indeed, we heard a little over a week ago that Murray to the Cardinals was a “done deal.” That may or may not be true, but we recently learned that multiple teams have inquired on Rosen, and the Giants may be one of those teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

OBJ Notes: Manning, 49ers, Bills

In the deal of the day, the Giants sent Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns. In return, New York received a 2019 first-rounder (No. 17 overall), a 2019 third-rounder (No. 95), and safety Jabrill Peppers. This marks the end of an era for the Giants organization, and it also means the front office may be preparing for a full-on rebuild.

There have naturally been a number of Giants-centric and Beckham-focused notes since the deal was reported earlier this evening. We’ve compiled some of the more notable rumblings below…

  • The 49ers were among the teams that expressed interest in OBJ, writes ESPN’s Adam Schefter. San Francisco has been connected to several big-name playmakers, and the team could certainly use some additional weapons for Jimmy GaroppoloMarquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis currently lead the 49ers’ depth chart, and while the pair certainly have plenty of talent, the team could easily transform the duo into a trio.
  • The Bills also had discussions about Beckham, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo (on Twitter). Tim Graham of The Athletic clarifies (on Twitter) that the Giants approached Buffalo about a trade, not the other way around. It’s not entirely surprising that Buffalo was considering a premier wideout, especially after the team failed to complete an Antonio Brown deal. The Bills have already added two free agent wideouts in John Brown and Cole Beasley, but their additions probably wouldn’t have prevented the organization from adding a player of OBJ’s caliber.
  • Following the Beckham trade, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com explores whether the Giants will end up holding on to veteran quarterback Eli Manning. There’s no denying that the organization is rebuilding, as the team has also moved on from Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon. Ultimately, the writer opines that the pairing doesn’t make sense for either side; the Giants won’t want the one or two extra wins that Manning could provide, while the veteran quarterback surely doesn’t want to spend his last few years playing for a middling team. The Giants may have to make some kind of decision by Monday, when Manning is set to earn a $5MM roster bonus that counts for a portion of his $23MM cap hit.
  • We heard that Beckham may be seeking a new contract with the Browns, and it sounds like the two sides are already talking. Jason La Canfora tweets that “there has been contact” between the Browns and the receiver’s reps. The reporter attributes the negotiations to the “ramifications of the [Antonio Brown] contract,” noting that Beckham should look to capitalize on the trend of traded players securing guaranteed money.

Giants Notes: Collins, Foles, Manning

All signs have been pointing to the Giants using the franchise tag on Landon Collins, but that’s far from a done deal, according to GM Dave Gettleman (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). The Giants are “still evaluating” whether to use the tag on the safety, so it’s a situation to monitor between now and the March 5 deadline.

These decisions aren’t made in a vacuum,” said Gettleman when asked about the safety who is less-than-pleased with the notion of the tag. “So many things come into play.”

Collins may or may not have cleaned out his locker earlier this month, but the 25-year-old has already made it clear he doesn’t want to be cuffed by a one-year, $11.2MM tender.

So let’s go to the conversation of eliminating distractions,” he said. “You tag a guy. He’s mad. And that’s all you guys are going to write about. For six months it’s what it’s going to be. So I have to say to myself, ‘Is it worth it?‘”

While Gettleman mulls that question, here’s more on the G-Men:

Giants Want Eli Manning Back

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur says quarterback Eli Manning will return to the Giants in 2019, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. Things have been trending in that direction, but this marks the first real confirmation we’ve heard on the matter. 

Well, I think Eli can help us win games,” Shurmur said. “He proved, when the players around him started playing better, that he can play at a very high level and help us win games. Yeah, at this point I want Eli back. He’s back. Get ready to go with him.

Last season, Manning raised his completion rate to a career-high 66% and his 7.5 yards-per-attempt average was considerably higher than it was in the previous two seasons. He also dropped his interceptions total (11) to the lowest its been during his 14 seasons a full-time starter. The Giants also won four of five games during a midseason stretch behind improved play from Manning.

If Manning is on the Giants’ roster on March 15 – and it sounds like he will be – he’ll receive a $5MM roster bonus. His 2019 cap figure is set to be $23.2MM, which is no longer a top number for QBs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Manning, Taylor, Falcons

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post examines some of the difficult decisions facing the Giants as the 2019 draft approaches. The Scouting Combine gets underway this week, and when New York GM Dave Gettleman speaks on Wednesday — which will mark the first time he speaks publicly since the end of the 2018 season — Schwartz expects he will formally commit to Eli Manning as the team’s starter for 2019.

After that, though, the picture gets a little fuzzy. Gettleman would of course love to find Manning’s successor in the draft, but he eschewed high-end collegiate QB talent last year, and the quarterbacks in this year’s class are not as heralded. Gettleman has long maintained that he will not grade quarterbacks on a curve just because there is pressure on him to pick one, and the Giants have plenty of other needs to fill, so they will be one of the more interesting teams to follow in the next couple of months.

Let’s take a look at a few more NFC items:

  • In a separate piece, Schwartz looks at three players the Giants will be monitoring closely at the Combine, all of which fill one of their above-referenced needs: QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), LB Devin White (LSU), and OT Jonah Williams (Alabama). Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com says the team’s top priority this offseason should be adding defensive playmakers, and he takes a deeper dive into some of the collegiate prospects that Big Blue should thoroughly examine.
  • The 49ers will certainly add a receiver or two to the top of their depth chart this offseason (like Antonio Brown, for instance), but there should still be plenty of opportunities for third-year player Trent Taylor. Taylor underwent back surgery in June, and while he ended up playing 14 games last year — compiling 26 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown — he says he never felt fully healthy. But as Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area writes, Taylor believes he is finally back to normal, and he thinks a regular offseason of work will prime him for a breakout campaign. He is also looking forward to working with his new position coach, Wes Welker, who certainly knows a thing or two about making hay as an undersized wideout.
  • The Falcons recently re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive end Steven Means to one-year pacts, and D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution passes along the contract details. Carter will earn $930K (making his contract a veteran minimum deal), while Means will earn $895K. The minimum salary for a player with Means’ service time is $805K, but Atlanta gave him a $90K signing bonus. He will carry a $735K cap hit, while Carter’s cap number is $645K.
  • It appears that Cardinals pass rusher Markus Golden will be allowed to hit the open market next month.

NFC East Notes: Thomas, Eli, Guice, Eagles

Linked for more than a year now, Earl Thomas and the Cowboys could be a match soon. Thomas seems certain to hit the market, and the Cowboys offered a second-round pick for him last year. It would only take money to bring Thomas to Dallas this year, but the sides may not be as strong of a match. The Cowboys hold nearly $50MM in cap space, but a big chunk of that will likely go to another DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag. Other funds will be earmarked for extensions for several young talents. The Cowboys could use safety help, but Albert Breer of SI.com does not get the vibe the organization will be ready to shell out top-end safety money to bring Thomas to Dallas.

On the eve of the franchise tag window opening, here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • More evidence for the Eli Manning-will-be-back noise: the 15-year Giants quarterback has been working out at the team facility throughout the offseason, Breer notes. While this is not unusual, as Manning does this annually, his conditioning headquarters may have shifted had the Giants given him an indication they were legitimately considering moving on from him. Although nothing concrete has emerged on this front yet, Manning remaining the starter is the expectation for 2019.
  • The Redskins have experienced some significant trouble with infections lately, with the respective recoveries of Alex Smith and Derrius Guice delayed because of post-surgery complications. Guice’s road back from a torn ACL was sidetracked by two months, but the running back is now sprinting full speed again. The LSU product revealed in a first-person recovery diary for the Redskins’ website (via J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington) he has yet to cut at full speed, though. Training camp, and not OTAs, may be the goal, Finlay points out. That would not be a surprise given how quickly Guice went down last year.
  • With the Broncos completing a trade for Joe Flacco — a move the Redskins explored — might Washington attempt to pursue Case Keenum? Washington’s financial obligations seem likely to prevent that, Finlay writes. Smith and Colt McCoy combine for nearly $25MM of Washington’s cap space, and Finlay expects Keenum — even in the event Denver releases him — to command a high-end backup deal. Chase Daniel‘s accord averages $5MM per year, and Keenum’s 2017 season would seemingly make him likely to surpass that. However, if Washington won’t pay a high-seven-figure sum for a veteran on Keenum’s level, pursuing Teddy Bridgewater would be difficult. If the Redskins are to chase a veteran to start over McCoy, they will likely have to at least enter high-end backup spending territory.
  • Although Jason Kelce said immediately after the Eagles‘ divisional-round loss he was considering retirement, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia gets the sense the All-Pro center is leaning toward returning for 2019. Kelce is only 31 and may have another contract to come. But for now, he’s attached to an Eagles-friendly deal that has him making $6.5MM salary. No guaranteed money remains on Kelce’s deal, which he signed in February 2014.

Giants Leaning Toward Keeping Eli Manning As Starter?

In the six weeks since Dave Gettleman‘s “no holds barred” conversation with Eli Manning, not much has transpired on this front.

With one fewer starting quarterback available, after the Broncos’ Joe Flacco trade agreement, the Giants represent one of the few teams with an uncertain situation atop its signal-caller depth chart. However, signs appear to be pointing toward Manning returning for at least one more season as the Giants’ starter.

All indications lead to this process ending with that conclusion, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes, adding that the belief around the league is the Giants saw enough from their longtime quarterback in the second half of last season to run their 15-season situation back one more time. Several close to Manning have seen no sign the Giants are planning on parting ways with the longest-tenured starting quarterback in team history.

The Giants are doing extensive research on this year’s top quarterback prospects, per Raanan, and are more likely than not to select a passer with their first- or second-round pick.

Manning raised his completion rate (a career-high 66 percent) and yards-per-attempt figures (7.5) considerably from the past two seasons and dropped his interceptions (11) to the lowest total during his 14 seasons a full-time starter. The Giants won four of five during a midseason stretch but dropped their final three games — three of which without Odell Beckham Jr.

If Manning is on the Giants’ roster on March 15, he will receive a $5MM roster bonus. His 2019 cap figure is $23.2MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Expected To Draft Quarterback Early?

With Eli Manning going into a contract year, and the 15-year veteran’s status not completely certain for 2019, the Giants will be connected to quarterbacks this offseason.

While the Giants could take their chances with Manning for one more season with an eye on an as-of-now-promising 2020 group of passer prospects, the team may not be willing to wait another year. The Giants are “looking hard” at this year’s crop of quarterbacks, a source informed Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, adding it would be a surprise at this point if they did not draft a signal-caller in the first two rounds.

The Giants, whose top two picks sit at Nos. 6 and 37, obviously made one of the more controversial decisions in recent draft history by taking all-world running back talent Saquon Barkley over Sam Darnold. While Barkley won offensive rookie of the year honors, the Jets have a potential long-term passer while the Giants remain without a Manning heir apparent.

Manning is still expected to return as Big Blue’s starter next season, but Vacchiano adds the franchise appears more serious about finding his successor this year than it was in 2018. The Giants entered their ’18 war room without a clear consensus on the draft’s top passer and were not blown away by any of them.

No known Manning dialogue has commenced between the Giants and Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, yet. The Giants, however, are not expected to wade into the free agency waters for a quick-fix solution, Vacchiano adds. Their 2019 starter options would appear to be Manning, who just turned 38, or a first- or second-round draft choice. Of course, the historically durable Manning could groom a younger passer chosen this year.

Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones and perhaps Kyler Murray are the quarterbacks receiving first-round buzz this year. Next year’s crop may well include Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm. The Dolphins are looking at the latter contingent; the Giants might not be.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.