Eli Manning

NFC Notes: Pioli, Falcons, Lions, Decker, Giants, Jones, Manning

Falcons front office exec Scott Pioli raised some eyebrows when he suddenly resigned the other day. Pioli had been an assistant GM and top lieutenant to GM Thomas Dimitroff, so it was a pretty significant departure. Pioli was the Chiefs’ general manager for four seasons before being canned, and he joined the Falcons in 2014. Rumors swirled about the circumstances surrounding his departure and whether he was forced out, but Pioli is insisting nothing happened. In an interview with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, Pioli said “I’m fine. My family is fine. This was my choice and it’s just time. Time for what, I don’t know, yet,” he said somewhat cryptically.

Dimitroff backed up Pioli’s account, and said his resignation wasn’t to take another specific job. Still, it’s interesting timing considering recent reports that Arthur Blank, the Falcons’ owner, is getting restless with the direction of the franchise. Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn are under a lot of pressure to win in 2019, and if they don’t deliver they could be joining Pioli on the open market after the season. With his experience running a team, it’s possible Pioli could be a candidate for future GM openings.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Many members of the 2016 draft class are getting ready to sign extensions. One first round pick from that class who isn’t preparing for that is Lions left tackle Taylor Decker. Decker has battled injuries and inconsistency since Detroit took him with the 16th overall pick a few years ago, and knows he needs to show out the next couple of seasons. “In my mind, I’m going to play two more years before that’s going to happen,” Decker said, referring to a new contract, per Nate Atkins of MLive.com. The Lions recently exercised the fifth-year option on Decker, meaning he’s under team control through the 2020 season. Atkins writes that the team’s current plan is “waiting and seeing” with Decker, and that they aren’t completely sold on him. Decker has been solid but not spectacular during his time on the field, and his development will be very interesting to monitor in 2019.
  •  The conventional wisdom is that the Giants are 100 percent committed to Eli Manning as their starter in 2019, and quite possibly beyond. But in a recent piece, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com argues that Daniel Jones could be given the chance to supplant Manning before the season even begins. That would be in direct contrast with Giants brass’ stated intentions to sit and develop the sixth overall pick, but crazier things have happened. Florio writes that the “team’s hope that this happens could be hiding in plain sight,” referring to the potential for Jones to shine during training camp and the preseason and force them into playing him right away. It’s still very unlikely to happen, but it’s possible Manning’s place atop the depth chart isn’t quite as secure as everyone is assuming.

Dave Gettleman On Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, Eli Manning

Roger Goodell uttering the name “Daniel Jones” served as perhaps the most shocking moment of the draft, and the decision that led to the commissioner reading that card did not come easy for the Giants.

Dave Gettleman had another name in mind, in the event the Giants felt their short-term need at defensive end was too great to ignore at No. 6. The second-year Giants GM said (via NBC Sports’ Peter King) the decision to bypass Josh Allen for Jones was “agonizing.”

I agonized over that,” Gettleman said. “I agonized. Before the draft, we discussed that thoroughly as a group — first last Friday, then again Wednesday. Obviously we had great regard for Josh Allen. But the one thing I have learned is you don’t fool around with a quarterback. If he’s your guy, you take him.”

Gettleman said post-draft he knew of two teams that would have taken Jones before the Giants’ No. 17 pick. The Jaguars snapped up Allen at No. 7, doing so despite not expecting the Kentucky edge rusher to be there. Jacksonville was expecting to make a decision between T.J. Hockenson and Jonah Williams, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting Hockenson was the Jags’ likely pick had the Giants gone with Allen as many expected. After the Jags’ Allen pivot, the Lions took Hockenson at No. 8.

The Giants have possessed three top-six picks since 2004, the first of those leading to Eli Manning and the second producing Saquon Barkley. Gettleman did not indicate last year he had any kind of debate between choosing Barkley or Sam Darnold. A year later, the Giants GM said his team might not have another near-future chance to grab a top quarterback prospect without sacrificing plenty in a trade, helping lead the Giants to Jones this year.

There are no guarantees. So the bottom line is, if you believe this kid can get you to the promised land, why wait?” Gettleman said, via Breer. “You have to have confidence in what you’re doing. You’re drafting players. The team will be better. Now, what happens next year? What if you don’t take him this year, and next year you’re picking 22? You’re going to have to move heaven and earth. This is the closest we’re going to get. It made the most sense.”

The Giants did not leave Manning in the dark about the Jones decision. He called the Giants’ 16th-year quarterback while on the clock at No. 6. Gettleman said Manning could potentially be Big Blue’s starter for multiple additional seasons.

I was on the phone with Eli. I told him, ‘You’re our quarterback, let’s go,'” Gettleman said, via Breer. “And by the way, we’re drafting the Jones kid, and your job is to be the best quarterback you can be and help us win. It’s his responsibility to crawl up your fanny and learn.”

New York attempted to trade up to land Denver’s pick at No. 10, but the Broncos went with the Steelers’ proposal instead, King reports. It’s possible the Giants wanted to trade up to land Rashan Gary or Brian Burns, whom the Packers and Panthers respectively selected. The Giants selected defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at No. 17.

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Eli Manning To Start For Giants

The Giants shocked the world on Thursday night by drafting Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick. Despite the significant investment in the position, GM Dave Gettleman says that Eli Manning is still on course to be the team’s starter in 2019 (via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). 

In fact, it could be a long time before Jones sees the field. After the draft, Gettleman was asked about his plans for Jones and indicated that the team will take an ultra-patient approach to his development.

Maybe we’re going the Green Bay model,” Gettleman said. “Where [Aaron] Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows? You can never have too many good players at one position.”

When pressed further, Gettleman gave a puzzling response.

Who knows?” the GM said. “I might go out to my car and get hit. … You don’t know. We drafted a quarterback that we believe is a franchise quarterback.”

Manning has at least some assurance that he’ll be the Giants’ starter in 2019, but there’s not much guaranteed beyond that. The veteran is entering the final year of his deal and the two sides have not engaged in serious contract talks this offseason. Meanwhile, Manning plays on playing in 2020, whether it’s with the Giants or another team.

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Giants Select QB Daniel Jones

The Giants have apparently found Eli Manning‘s successor. The team has selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall pick. Connor Hughes of The Athletic was first with the news (via Twitter).

The Giants had been connected to seemingly every quarterback prospect leading up to the draft. There were reports last week that the front office was focused on Ohio State signal-caller Dwayne Haskins, although there were persisting whispers that the interest was merely a smokescreen. The team was also reportedly eyeing Missouri’s Drew Lock. There was even talk that the Giants could bypass quarterbacks at No. 6 and No. 17, acquire a late first-rounder, and opt for West Virginia’s Will Grier or North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley. The Giants were also connected to Cardinals quarterback Josh Allen. Ultimately, Jones proved to be their guy.

Jones was a three-year starter at Duke, and he saw his draft stock improve after a solid 2018 campaign. The quarterback finished the season having completed 60.5% of his passes for 2,674 yards, 22 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 2018. There was apparently conflicting opinions on Jones heading into the draft, with one scout referring to him as a “pedestrian talent” while another lauded his “fairly high ceiling.”

Either way, Jones might not be required to take over the Giants offense come the start of next season. After all, the team is still rostering Manning, with the veteran recently stating that he plans on playing through at least the 2020 season. In 2018, the 38-year-old 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.

Considering the draft capital the team just invested into the position, it isn’t unrealistic to alternatively envision Manning playing elsewhere next season. If the Giants decide they immediately want to pair Jones with reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley and former second-rounder Sterling Shepard, it may be in their best interest to shop Manning.

For what it’s worth, Jones has a connection to Manning via Duke coach David Cutcliff, who led both Eli and Peyton Manning in college. Jones also attended the Manning Passing Academy multiple times.

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Eli Manning Plans To Play In 2020

Giants quarterback Eli Manning plans to play in 2020, according to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN (link via PFT). However, that doesn’t mean he’ll be playing in New York next year. 

Manning is in his walk year and, eventually, the Giants will have to move on to a younger QB. The Giants are sticking with Manning for now, despite his rocky performances over the last couple of years, but it’s hard to see them sticking with the two-time Super Bowl hero into his age-39 season, unless he turns back the clock in a dramatic way.

Manning may prefer to spend his entire career with one franchise, but that might not be an available option. Manning may also prefer to be surrounded by better offensive weapons – the Giants’ aerial attack may have shed some headaches with the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, but it’s also without much of its former firepower.

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, so there’s some reason to believe in the old signal caller.

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Giants Rumors: Haskins, Draft, Manning

More steam is building for the Giants bypassing a quarterback at No. 6 overall to take a pass rusher. They have been rumored to be interested in this draft’s bevy of front-seven talents while simultaneously being less than enthralled by this crop of passers. One Giants source informed Ralph Vacchiano of SNY the team will have a tough time passing on a defender at 6.

There are a ton of great defensive players in this draft,” the source told Vacchiano. “As much as we need a young quarterback, I honestly don’t know how we can pass on one of the pass rushers at 6.”

This follows a Vacchiano report that indicates the Giants are “strongly” leaning in the direction of drafting a pass rusher at No. 6. The Giants’ visit list, so far, includes Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. Both players may be gone by the time New York’s first draft window opens, with Quinnen Williams possibly set to be a top-five selection as well. However, players like Montez Sweat, Ed Oliver and Rashan Gary may well still be on the board at that point. The Giants have gutted their pass rush in consecutive offseasons, trading Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. They finished with 30 sacks in 2018 — the second-lowest total in the league. New York added Markus Golden in free agency but still needs help on the edge.

Here is the latest on the Giants, shifting to the other side of this debate:

  • Despite this buzz surrounding Big Blue and pass rushers, the Giants still have a glaring long-term need at quarterback. And this is peak smokescreen time. As the Giants continue to research Dwayne Haskins, they remain pleased with the results, per Vacchiano. Should the Cardinals be running a historic Kyler Murray smokescreen operation and the Heisman Trophy winner drops to the Giants, Vacchiano adds they would still take Haskins over the 5-foot-10 passer. The Ohio State breakout star is the likely choice, if, in fact, the Giants go quarterback at 6. Haskins is set to visit the Giants.
  • The Giants also sound interested in filling their post-Manning quarterback need via trade for Josh Rosen, if he becomes available. They have discussed this internally and are expected to be a suitor, and many around the league believe New York’s No. 37 overall pick would be enough to get this done. The Giants do not have their own third-round pick, which would have been near the top of the round, but do hold a No. 95 choice as a result of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. That by itself might not be sufficient for the Cardinals’ 2018 first-round QB.
  • The Eli Manning-in-2020 rumors may be quite legitimate. Giants brass do not believe the 38-year-old quarterback has declined to the degree most of the NFL media does, Vacchiano notes. The hope remains the Giants will have Manning’s heir apparent lined up this year, and Daniel Jones has now surged into the conversation, but Vacchiano adds the Giants “will not hesitate” to extend Manning into 2020 if not. They would like him to mentor his successor, whether said passer arrives this year or next.
  • Dave Gettleman is taking plenty of heat for his offseason decisions, most notably the ones that sent away Beckham and Landon Collins. But Giants ownership is fully on board with the second-year GM’s plan, Vacchiano writes, adding that ownership likes that Gettleman has attempted to create a better culture in the locker room.
  • Pass rushers and quarterbacks aside, the Giants are on linebacker Devin White’s visit list.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Foles, Manning

For a minute there, the Eagles considered tagging quarterback Nick Foles. This week, owner Jeff Lurie confirmed what had been widely rumored – the tag was considered only to stop Foles from potentially leaving for the rival Giants or Redskins (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com). However, when it became apparent to the Redskins that Foles would be leaving the conference altogether by signing with the Jaguars, the Eagles opted against the move.

Foles was beloved in Philadelphia, but holding on to him as Carson Wentz‘s backup would have been an expensive proposition. Instead, the Eagles allowed him to fly away while putting their limited cap space into other areas.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • As the Giants evaluate their future at the quarterback position, they have not ruled out the possibility that Eli Manning could be their QB in 2020, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears. If the Giants do not draft a QB at No. 6 or No. 17 overall or trade for Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, this could be the most likely outcome. From there, the Giants would kick the can down the road into 2020, when they would (finally) select Manning’s heir.
  • The Cowboys‘ one-year deal with safety George Iloka is a minimum salary benefit contract that will count for just $735K against the cap, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. He’ll earn a $930K base salary with just $210K of that amount being guaranteed. The longtime Bengals starter is just the latest one-year addition in Dallas, joining fellow vets Randall Cobb, Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, Cameron Fleming, Tavon Austin, and Jason Witten on deals that expire after the 2019 season.
  • The Redskins will move former Giants first-round pick Ereck Flowers from tackle to guard, as John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. They don’t expect there to be much of a learning curve, however. “With his strength and his size and his ability to move I think it will be a natural easy fit,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “[When] we drafted Brandon I remember they came out in the same class and rated right next to each other. Ereck was more a tackle and Brandon projected more of a guard. Both are athletic big and can move. It will be an easy transition.”

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.

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