Eli Manning

Extra Points: Giants, Manning, Dolphins, Sitton, Seahawks, Kendricks, Cowboys, Bryant

One of the most talked about storylines of the 2018 NFL offseason was what the Giants would do with the second overall pick. Many thought they would take a quarterback to succeed Eli Manning in New York, but the team opted for running back Saquon Barkley instead. Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report is out with a new feature on Manning and the Giants where he writes about Manning’s determination to prove the Giants didn’t make a mistake.

While he writes “the decision to stick with Manning could go down as one of the worst blunders in NFL history” due to the high-level quarterbacks, like Sam Darnold, available at number two in this year’s draft, Manning still believes he’s got a lot left in the tank. Manning said he’s entirely focused on proving to the Giants that “they did make the right decision” and that he has one last title run left in him. The full piece is full of juicy tidbits and well worth a read to get a look inside the 2018 Giants and the last few tumultuous years for one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in recent memory.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Dolphins lost starting guard Josh Sitton for the season earlier this week, but despite the huge blow to their offensive line, the team won’t be looking for outside help to replace him according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). The Dolphins also expect Sitton to be back with the team in 2019, Jackson notes.
  • The Seahawks signed legally troubled linebacker Mychal Kendricks in part because they were upset with the play of rookie Shaquem Griffin according to Bob Condotta of The Athletic. Condotta notes that coach Pete Carroll specifically called out Griffin following the team’s loss to the Broncos, and that the front office immediately began looking for linebacking help.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and free agent receiver Dez Bryant were recently spotted at a concert together, sparking rumors of a potential reunion between the two sides. Stephen Jones, the team’s Executive Vice President, threw cold water on the speculation, saying “we feel really good about our receiving corps moving forward” and indicating they wouldn’t be looking for outside help according to Jon Machota of Dallas News. While he mostly denied it, it’s worth noting he didn’t 100% rule out the team bringing Dez back in.

Extra Points: Giants, Eli, Chiefs, Cowboys

To the dismay of many analysts, the Giants didn’t use the second overall pick on a franchise quarterback, instead opting to select running back Saquon Barkley, who figures to make a more immediate impact. Incumbent signal-caller Eli Manning, however, was — perhaps obviously — pleased with New York’s decision not to draft his successor. “It was kind of a vote of confidence in that they trusted in me that I can play at a high level, can win games, take us deep in playoffs and win championships and win championships still,” Manning said, per SiriusXM NFL Radio. “And you know what? I want to prove them right and I want to make them look smart and make them to have made the right decision in doing that.” The Giants are going all-in with Manning under center, and are hoping new head coach Pat Shurmur can do for Manning what he did for journeyman Case Keenum in Minnesota in 2017. Last year, the 37-year-old Manning finished just 23rd in both adjusted net yards per attempt and passer rating.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Chiefs second-round defensive end Breeland Speaks had been on Kansas City’s radar for awhile, as general manager Brett Veach explained (link via Josh Norris of Rotoworld). After initially grading Speaks as a third-round pick, the Chiefs quickly realized that not only would Speaks likely be off the board by the time their third-rounder came up, but he might not even be available when Kansas City selected at No. 54 in the second round. Therefore, the Chiefs sent a third-round pick to the Bengals for the right to move up to No. 46, and took Speaks — an Ole Miss product — there instead. Speaks, whom Veach characterized as a “high-motor, intense player,” will vie for rotational snaps in Kansas City’s 3-4 scheme behind starters Chris Jones and Allen Bailey.
  • Defensive tackle Maliek Collins isn’t a lock to return for the Cowboys‘ Week 1 contest after breaking his foot in May, and if the third-year interior defender doesn’t recover quickly, he could lose his starting job to trade acquisition Jihad Ward, according to Jori Epstein of the Dallas Morning News. Collins underwent a similar foot operation in January and underwent a foot procedure in the 2016 offseason as well, so he’s no stranger to lower extremity issues. Collins, who was selected in the third round of the 2016 draft, is even more critical given that fellow defensive tackle David Irving is suspended for the first four games of the season. Ward, meanwhile, managed to play in only five games a season ago before being shipped to Dallas in exchange for wideout Ryan Switzer.
  • The Alliance of American Football will offer players non-guaranteed three-year, $225K contracts, which puts them in line with the XFL’s pay scale, writes Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Additionally, AAF players will be allowed to leave their contracts in order to join the NFL, indicating a policy which differs from that of the Canadian Football League. The AAF will allocate players to rosters based on where they attended college, which should help draw fans. “If the Birmingham teams has [former Alabama running back] Trent Richardson, we think that will be something that would be a significant gate attraction,” league co-founder Bill Polian said.

NFC Notes: Manning, Solder, Bears, Seahawks

Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long has missed 14 total games over the past two seasons, and the three-time Pro Bowler underwent neck, shoulder and elbow surgeries this past offseason. Naturally, the 29-year-old was limited during his team’s OTAs last month. However, Long still found a way to help his fellow linemen.

“He really wants to be good,”said the team’s new offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand (via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune). “He’s fun to be around. He comes in the meeting room every day with a smile on his face, looking forward to working. He’s very interested in helping the other guys. After I’ll say something, the meeting will break and they’ll be walking out to get a break and he’ll be talking out there with the young guys. That part’s been really good about him.”

The offensive guard is confident he’ll be good to go during training camp, and he’ll be hoping to improve a Bears line that allowed 39 sacks last season.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Following Kam Chancellor‘s unofficial retirement, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks will surely eye the free agent safety market, a grouping that includes Eric ReidKenny Vaccaro or Tre Boston. However, as the writer notes, the Seattle front office had anticipated Chancellor’s decision, and several of their offseason moves operated under the assumption that the veteran wouldn’t be with the team in 2018. The team currently has three starting-caliber safeties in Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald and Maurice Alexander. Of course, as Condotta notes, if Thomas is traded or decides to hold out through the start of the regular season, the team will definitely need to add some depth at the position.
  • Instead of taking one of the highly-touted quarterback prospects, the Giants ended up opting for running back Saquon Barkley with the second-overall pick in this past year’s draft. Eli Manning recognized his team’s decision to not take his eventual replacement, and he’s aiming to prove their decision right. “It was kind of a vote of confidence in that they trusted in me that I can play at a high level, can win games, take us deep in playoffs and win championships and win championships still,” Manning said during an appearance on SiriusXM’s “The Opening Drive.”And you know what? I want to prove them right and I want to make them look smart and make them to have made the right decision in doing that. I want to go out there and do great things, do my job and lead this team and make guys around me better and do what I’m supposed to do to put us in position to win those games.”
  • Manning also touched on his team’s addition of left tackle Nate Solder, who the Giants added on a four-year, $62MM deal this past offseason. “He knows how the offensive line is supposed to work together as a group,” Manning said. “He has them in there early, has them eating lunch together, has that (bond), (which) I always thought was most important with offensive line. It’s not having the five best players at each position. It’s having five guys that just work together. They communicate, they’ve got a toughness about them, they’ve got a pride in their job and being able to get that third-and-two, being able to run the ball, being able to pass protect and give us enough time and pick up the stunts and the blitzes. So I think he’s kind of bringing that attitude to this group.”

Eli Manning On Retirement, Giants’ Window, Odell Beckham Jr.

After an offseason that broke down favorably for his status with the Giants, Eli Manning is eager to show the franchise’s new decision-makers their faith wasn’t misplaced.

The Giants didn’t trade him nor draft a quarterback at No. 2 overall, and Manning has a clear path toward likely multiple additional seasons as a starter. He addressed his timeline and other subjects from the Manning Passing Academy in New Orleans.

Obviously it has been an unbelievable run, but I want to continue doing it. It’s not over,” Manning said during an NFL Network interview (video link, via Giants.com). “I know that. … I’m excited for this upcoming year and really prove that I can still play at a high level. We can win games. We can win championships.”

New York flopped massively in 2017, going 3-13 with an injury-riddled roster. This coming after an 11-5 season in 2016 represented the Giants’ biggest single-season regression since they went from 14-2 in 1986 to 6-9 in a strike-shortened ’87 season.

But Dave Gettleman did not use the draft real estate Ernie Accorsi once did in adding Manning. Conversely, the 37-year-old signal-caller remains under contract through 2019 and does not have a clear-cut successor like he would have had Gettleman used the Giants’ only top-five pick since 2004 to select a quarterback.

Big Blue wasn’t in agreement on the rookie passer class, allowing Manning’s run to continue unimpeded. He’ll be at the center of the Giants attempting to return to the playoffs for the second time in three years.

We’ll get some guys back healthy, get Odell [Beckham Jr.] back healthy,” Manning said. “There is a lot of anticipation, and that’s a good thing. There’s an urgency to get better quickly and make something happen.”

The two-time Super Bowl MVP now has Saquon Barkley in the mix and a new-look offensive line. However, the Giants’ most important weapon remains Beckham. He’s entering a pivotal season, angling for a receiver-record contract and pondering a holdout.

Despite not doing team drills, however, Beckham worked with Manning last week and is viewed to be at or close to 100 percent after his ankle injury.

Got to throw some routes with him in minicamp. He looks great, looks healthy,” Manning said Friday. “Last year was tough on him, getting injured and going through those things. He wants to have a big year and play well.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Wentz

Following the Cowboys’ decision to move on from Dez Bryant, the offense was left with only two wideouts from last year’s roster: Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams. The team did an admirable job of adding Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson via free agency, Tavon Austin via trade, and Michael Gallup via the draft, but none of their options profile as a top-tier wideout.

While the team’s depth chart may be lacking, quarterback Dak Prescott believes the Cowboys’ offense will be just fine.

“I don’t know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver,” Prescott said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “It’s about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes.”

Of course, while Prescott is confident in his ability to lead the unheralded offense, he understands that there’s still work to be done.

“I mean the only thing you can do is just get out there with routes on air, things like that,” Prescott said. “We did a bunch together. Me and these young guys have been here before we even started OTAs, getting that timing down so we can get in OTAs and have good feel for each other and now with the defense in front of us, grow off of that and grow from what we’ve already accomplished. That’s the best thing I can do.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of the NFC…

  • After having seen several Giants practices, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com opines that 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb has been the team’s most impressive signal-caller. However, the writer emphasizes that there isn’t a quarterback controversy, noting that the team’s offseason moves indicate that the front office wants to make a playoff push with Eli Manning. Still, since the Giants weren’t sold on any of the top quarterback prospects in the draft, Webb has been doing a nice job of making his case to be Manning’s heir apparent.
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com takes an early look at the Eagles projected depth chart. The writer’s opinion of the offensive tackle position is of particular note, as Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are currently slotted in as starters. However, Shorr-Parks wonders if Halapoulivaati Vaitai could take over as the starter for Peters if the veteran doesn’t recover from his major knee surgery. The writer also notes that there will be a battle between Josh Sweat and Steven Means for third-string defensive end reps. If Means earns a spot on the active roster, the Eagles could choose to stash the first-year Sweat on the injured reserve.
  • Carson Wentz participated in the Eagles OTAs this week, and reports indicated that he looked good as recovered from an ACL and LCL tear. Still, while there should be optimism around Wentz’s progress, Dr. David J. Chao of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that it’s too early to “anoint his full return for the season opener.” While the quarterback is on track, he still has plenty of steps to complete until he’s back to full mobility. Wentz will have to focus on running and cutting before he’s ready for regular season action.

Pat Shurmur On Eli Manning’s Status

Five months ago, Eli Manning accepted a benching that ended his historic start streak and triggered a massive shakeup within the organization. But even after getting his job back a week later, the 14-year veteran was still viewed as either a trade candidate or a lame duck, given the Giants’ rare draft real estate.

But Big Blue’s new power structure immediately said Manning wasn’t going anywhere, and their actions on draft weekend leave no clear succession plan from a 37-year-old quarterback who is coming off one of his worst seasons. Pat Shurmur reiterated the Giants believe in their starter, viewing Saquon Barkley‘s talent as too difficult to pass up despite Albert Breer of SI.com reporting the team did like Sam Darnold to an extent.

I don’t know what [taking Barkley] means for Eli,” Shurmur said, via Breer. “What it means for us organizationally is we picked the guy we thought was the best player in the draft. I believe in Eli. What I know is that Eli is going to be the very best Eli he can be, and we believe in him.”

Shurmur was reported to have preferred Josh Allen in a Giants war room that reportedly did not produce a definitive answer on which of the 2018 draft class’ top passing prospects was the best. That the team devoted its offseason to adding the draft’s top non-quarterback prospect and three new offensive linemen figures to help paint a better picture of where Manning’s at than what transpired last season leading an injury-ravaged Giants offense.

But Shurmur remains confident the Manning he studied on film from a shootout loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles in December is one on which the franchise can still rely.

It came down to the last score,” Shurmur said, via Breer, of a game that saw Manning throw for 434 yards and three touchdowns despite being without Odell Beckham Jr. “It’s not one thing, it’s Eli over the course of time. And it’s gotten solidified now getting a chance to work with him. … [on film] I saw a guy that could still throw the ball. I could tell he was still operating the offense pretty well. I saw that he had command of the offense, and I saw all the elements you see when things don’t go well.

There were drops, missed blocks. I think everyone had their mistakes. Things tend to get magnified. But just as a player, you could see he could still drop back and throw the ball as well as anybody.”

New York has 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb and rookie fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta behind Manning, but despite numerous calls for the Giants to draft a successor with their first top-five pick in 14 years, the team will attempt to groom the lesser-regarded prospects behind Manning for the time being. Two years remain on the starter’s contract.

No, I didn’t see the age,” Shurmur said of watching the 15th-year quarterback on film. “There’s no substitute for experience and he’s got it. So no, the age doesn’t bother me.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Manning, Eagles

If the Giants use the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback, that’s just fine with Eli Manning.

Obviously knowing I will be a New York Giant, that helped. Been told that, so that’s a starting point,” Manning said (via Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record). “Now just keep going about my job an learn this offense, obviously got to wait for spring and start back practicing with the team and get everybody up to speed.”

Manning also says that he is willing to help the Giants to mold a rookie quarterback, though he does not view that as his primary task:

Yes, in a sense. I wouldn’t look at it as that role. I would look at it as my job to prepare and compete and be ready to play each and every game and in that process you’re always talking football,” Manning said. “You’re always helping out the guys in the room. With Davis Webb this year, with Geno [Smith], you’re always helping them out. Nothing changes. It’s about doing your job but also helping the other guys around you and having great communication in the quarterback room.”

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • It sounds like the Eagles will have the services of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan in the Super Bowl, even though he’s missed the last two days with an illness. “Because of the position and he’s one of our veteran guys, I do feel comfortable that he’ll be ready,” Pederson told a pool reporter (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer). This season, Jernigan ranked as the No. 33 ranked interior defender in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, making him a quality partner for Fletcher Cox (ranked No. 2) in the middle of the line.
  • Howie Roseman was asked about the Eagles’ decision to block vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas from interviewing for the Texans’ GM job this offseason and offered up a vague explanation. “We were during the season,” Roseman said (via Matt Lombardo of NJ.com). “I think that the way the league rules are, that during the season, it’s not expected that you’d allow people to interview with other teams. That’s the way the rules are written. We’re going to abide by the rules that are written. Joe’s a valuable part of our organization. We love having him in Philadelphia. But, again, during the season we’re going to focus on playing.” Going forward, the Eagles will probably have to give Douglas an elevation in salary and title in order to keep him in the organization.
  • The Cowboys should prioritize a long-term deal for Zack Martin over pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News opines. The Cowboys need a great edge defender more than another Pro Bowl offensive lineman, but Lawrence’s history of back injuries and struggles prior to 2017 give Sherrington pause about the idea of committing to him for years to come. His suggestion is for the Cowboys to tag him for 2018 and take it from there. Meanwhile, Martin has already shown that he’s among the best in the league at his position across multiple seasons.

Latest On Giants’ Pat Shurmur Hire

A difference between how Pat Shurmur approached his Giants interview helped land him the job. The former Vikings OC conducted his Giants meeting in a fashion that left no doubt the Giants were his first choice, which is something, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, team management couldn’t see in Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia.

While Vacchiano reports some in the Giants’ organization preferred the two Patriots coordinators to Shurmur “until the very end,” he notes Shurmur left “by far” the strongest first impression on the Giants of the candidates summoned. One of the reasons management was sold on Shurmur was his desire to land the Giants’ job was far more evident than the other finalists’. Vacchiano writes McDaniels appeared to be more interested in the Colts’ job because of Andrew Luck‘s presence, and Patricia’s Lions connection turned out to be very real.

Multiple sources informed Vacchiano that Shurmur was at one point viewed as the favorite in Arizona and that his personality would work better there, but the former Browns coach, per the Giants, was intent on securing the New York job.

Shurmur’s interview, one John Mara ranked as arguably the best he’s seen, resulted in him edging the New England assistants after they’d been viewed as previous favorites. Shurmur also made the strongest connection with Dave Gettleman of the six candidates interviewed, which is interesting given Steve Wilks‘ history with the new Giants GM. Vacchiano notes Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin did not see eye to eye on key components of the team in their final years together, with a specific disagreement involving the team’s offensive line approach, and adds Mara appeared to indicate Reese and Ben McAdoo weren’t meshing as well as they’d hoped to.

Mara indicated a head coach/GM partnership was critical here, and Shurmur — who made a point of saying how much stock he places in repairing the Giants’ offensive front — appears to be in stride with Gettleman at this point.

Mara previously said he wanted a head coach with previous experience leading a team, and Vacchiano reports Shurmur was “much more willing” to accept his wrongdoings from his first job (with the 2011-12 Browns) than McDaniels (fired midway through his second Broncos season in 2010) was. Shurmur made clear he will hire an offensive coordinator, identifying that as a mistake from his first Cleveland campaign. The Giants ultimately ruled out Wilks because of his lack of experience.

Shurmur also spoke with Eli Manning on the phone on Wednesday from the Senior Bowl and then sat down with the franchise passer in the Giants’ cafeteria on Friday, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. Considering Gettleman’s praise for Manning, and what Shurmur offered about the quarterback’s future at his press conference, it’s starting to look like a strong bet he will be back in New York for his age-37 season.

Schwartz writes Shurmur’s approach with Manning differs from Coughlin’s with Kerry Collins, whom the Giants replaced with Manning in 2004. Coughlin ignored Collins when they saw each other at the facility during the months his and Collins’ tenures overlapped in ’04, Schwartz recalls.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Coach Endorses Eli Manning

It sounds like Eli Manning still has a place in New York. During his introductory press conference on Friday, head coach Pat Shurmur said that he is “looking forward” to working with the veteran quarterback, indicating that he is very much in the plans for 2018. Eli Manning (vertical)

I think he’s got years left – how many, I don’t know,” Shurmur said (via the New York Post). “With regard to the draft, I’m not ducking that question … we’ve got to travel down that road of evaluation. … We’ve got a guy here (Eli) who’s helped this organization win Super Bowls, he’s an outstanding player and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

At this point, all of the key players have expressed interest in moving forward. Back in December, owner John Mara said that he wanted Manning back in the fold, though he stopped short of guaranteeing his return since he had yet to hire his new GM and coach. Before the New Year, Manning himself said that he wanted to stay with the Giants, despite a bumpy 2017. Then, this week, Manning pick up endorsements from GM Dave Gettleman and Shurmur.

Manning, 37, is under contract with the team through 2019 with cap numbers of $22.2MM and $23.2MM. Critics might argue that Manning has lost a step or two, but a good QB is hard to find and his salary isn’t that high compared to others. Manning’s $22.2MM cap hit is still less than that of Matthew Stafford ($26.5MM), Derek Carr ($25MM), Joe Flacco ($24.75MM), Andrew Luck ($24.4MM), Russell Wilson ($23.8MM), and Ben Roethlisberger ($23.2MM).

Of course, even with Manning on board, the Giants could still target Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or another top quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dave Gettleman Wants Eli Manning To Stay

Just as they were 14 years ago, the Giants are in a position to select another potential franchise quarterback with their first-round pick. However, the new GM isn’t ready to abandon the incumbent just yet.

Dave Gettleman wants Eli Manning to stay with the Giants this coming season and be the 2018 starter, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports. The two had a meeting Gettleman described as “great” earlier this week, and Manning confirmed as such to ESPN.

Pat Shurmur will have a major say in the franchise’s choice here, and the man tabbed as the next Giants HC offered a favorable impression of Manning in his interview, Mortensen reports. However, Gettleman explained to Manning during the powwow the team has yet to fully dig in on the 2018 draft class or come to a consensus on Davis Webb.

Manning has said all along he would like to be a Giant through the conclusion of his career, and he reaffirmed his desire to remain with the team in 2018 — regardless of what Big Blue does with its No. 2 overall pick. That selection is expected to be used on a quarterback.

The Giants ended Manning’s historic start streak this season but botched the handling of the benching so badly it ended the tenures of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo early. Gettleman was a high-level Giants executive during both of the Super Bowl runs Manning piloted and was also around when Ernie Accorsi made the deal with the Chargers to acquire Manning in 2004. Accorsi jettisoned previous starter Kerry Collins quickly but added Kurt Warner as a stopgap.

Manning would likely be the stopgap in the upcoming scenario, but Mortensen notes the 37-year-old passer is confident enough in his abilities to compete with whoever the Giants choose at No. 2 — if they, in fact, select a quarterback. Gettleman told Manning during the meeting he wants the team to make a bigger commitment to fortifying its offensive line, which is an area the Giants have struggled mightily with the past two seasons.

Probably the best quarterback in this franchise’s storied history, Manning is under contract through the 2019 season. He’s set to count at $22.2MM and $23.2MM against the Giants’ next two salary caps. While the Giants could fit a rookie signal-caller’s contract on their payroll, they have several other needs that may be difficult to fill if they still have Manning’s salary on the books.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.