Eli Manning

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eli, Eagles

Let’s take a look at the latest from the NFC East, starting with the Cowboys’ contract situation. The team has now extended four high-profile players over the past several months and remains at work on at least two other deals.

  • Cowboys VP Stephen Jones was adamant that new contracts with Jaylon Smith and La’el Collins were not done to try to put some pressure on Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott or Amari Cooper. “We’d consider other agreements right now and it wouldn’t affect what we’re doing with Dak, Amari or anyone else,” Jones said (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jon Machota). The Cowboys now have Smith, Collins, Elliott and DeMarcus Lawrence signed long-term; they are still working on re-ups for Prescott and Cooper.
  • On his “Hail to the Podcast” podcast with Erin Hawksworth, former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall said that Trent Williams could make his return “sooner (rather) than later.” Despite his holdout, GM Bruce Allen recently confirmed that the disgruntled Pro Bowler will not be traded and that he does not see him retiring.
  • According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Giants officials have privately told him that Eli Manning will remain the starting quarterback as long as they are in the playoff race. Moreover, sources also told Vacchiano that Pat Shurmur will have a significant say in the matter. “It’s Shurmur’s call,” one team source said. “Let’s just see how it goes. When and if it’s time, we’ll all know.” Manning confirmed this past summer that he is not rushing into retirement.
  • Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham was thought to be AWOL after missing the team’s preseason finale against the Jets, and the team was “livid” at his absence, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane. However, Bradham said he was “under the weather” and needed to communicate better with team officials. Bradham signed a five-year, $40MM deal in 2018 and has been a key contributor to the defense since coming over from the Bills in 2016.

Giants Still Eyeing Daniel Jones Redshirt?

People inside the Giants organization acknowledge the perception of Daniel Jones has changed over the summer, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv noting the rookie’s rise has been “dizzying” to many staffers. The No. 6 overall pick has surprised most of the football community with his preseason readiness.

After a take-notice drive in his preseason debut, Jones completed 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown (while losing two fumbles) against the Bears on Friday. Eli Manning was 4-for-4 in limited duty. Despite Manning’s struggles in recent years and Jones’ August work, the hope remains the incumbent will play throughout 2019, per Vacchiano. The team does not believe Jones needs to be rushed.

Big Blue will not hold a quarterback competition in the near future. The belief still appears to be that Jones is not ready to usurp Manning, and Vacchiano adds the plan will be for the 16th-year starter to keep his job until at least the playoffs are out of reach. The Giants believe Manning can keep them in contention, so Dave Gettleman‘s hope to execute the “Kansas City model” — where Jones would play the Patrick Mahomes role to Manning’s Alex Smith — would be in play in this unlikely (per Las Vegas) scenario. John Mara said recently he hopes Jones “never sees the field” in 2019.

If the Giants fall out of contention, it should be expected their 22-year-old hopeful heir apparent will see the field. But for now, the organization does not look to be giving legitimate consideration to demoting its 38-year-old cornerstone.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eli Manning Isn’t “Rushing Into Retirement”

Eli Manning completed his 15th NFL season, and the Giants proceeded to use their sixth-overall pick on Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. The writing would seemingly be on the wall for the veteran signal-caller, but Manning recently told Rod Walker of NOLA.com that he won’t be joining Peyton Manning in retirement anytime soon.

“I’m not rushing into retirement, and Peyton’s not telling me to rush into it,” Eli said. “I still love being around the guys and the teammates and playing this game. I’m going to play it for as long as I think I can hang with these guys.

“You take it year by year. I’ve been blessed going into my 16th year. That’s been a blessing in itself. I love what I’m doing. I love the work that goes into it. You never know when it’s going to be your last year or when it’s going to be the end for you, so you try to take advantage of the years you’re here and enjoy every moment.”

The two-time Super Bowl MVP had plenty of success through the first nine years of his career, but the Giants have struggled mightily since 2013. Over the past six seasons, Manning’s team has only finished above .500 once, and the Giants have combined for only eight wins over the past two years. Despite that, Manning is still proving he can be productive in his late 30s; he finished last season with a career-high completion percentage and a career-low interception rate.

The Giants have moved on from all of their Super Bowl mainstays, and the Giants are seemingly starting to embrace a youth movement. However, that sentiment doesn’t seem to include Manning, who said his younger teammates are helping him stay fresh.

“In the locker room, I feel their age,” Manning said. “At 8 o’clock at night, I don’t feel their age. I’m ready to go to bed and they are just getting started rocking and rolling. I can’t hang and do everything they can do off the field. But on the field, I still feel like I can still run with them and they keep me young.”

Manning is naturally a great mentor for Jones, and it makes sense for the Giants to ease their rookie quarterback into the lineup. However, if the veteran wants to continue playing into his 40s, there’s a good chance he’ll eventually have to move on from New York.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eli Manning On Daniel Jones, Potential QB Competition

There’s been growing speculation that the Giants’ quarterback situation is far from settled. Recently, the notion that rookie Daniel Jones could push Eli Manning for the starting job in training camp has been picking up steam. At the end of minicamp head coach Pat Shurmur’s comments seemed to suggest the door was open for Jones to start, although there hasn’t been much clarity. 

Speaking at his Manning Passing Academy, the longtime veteran told Rhett Lewis of NFL Network Friday that he isn’t worried. Here’s a look at some of the most notable topics from the interview, which will air in full later this evening.

On the prospect of competing for his job with Jones:

I mean no, I don’t feel like it’s a competition. I feel like I’ve got to do my job and I’ve got to compete every day and try to get better every day. That’s the way it’s been my whole life and that’s just the way I’ve always approached practice every day to improve, to earn my place on the team, to earn the respect of the teammates and do it each year

On mentoring Jones:

I’ve always been good with young quarterbacks, whoever’s been in there, trying to get them up to speed, teaching them about defenses or styles or what our defense plays. So I’m doing the same thing with Daniel and I’m going to be a good teammate, I’m going to do the best that I can do and help everybody on the Giants be successful.

On his own battle for the starting job in 2004, and how it relates to the situation now:

Definitely drawing back on that and I talk to Daniel and I see so many similarities in the situation and how things are going and just what he’s trying to do, his personality. He’s coming into this team, he’s just trying to learn the playbook, learn the names of everybody, got to earn the respect of his teammates. He’s got so much going on. He’s got the New York media, dealing with them; all of a sudden they’re saying things Day 1. … So just work hard, take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously — if you can do that — enjoy your teammates, listen to your coaches and we’re all in this together and we’ll get through it

On people pointing out similarities between him and Jones:

I see it. He’s a good kid, he’s quiet and he’s just trying to learn, get a good feel for when to let his personality come out. I was the same way. My rookie year I wasn’t going to say — Tiki Barber, Michael Strahan, you got these big personalities — I’m just going to keep my mouth shut, be on time, work my tail off in the weight room, ask my questions to the coach after the meeting is over and make sure I know what I’m doing before tell Tiki what his route is or I tell Amani Toomer, ‘Hey, I don’t think you did that right.’ You got to earn the respect. You got to get hit in the mouth a few times and get up … before you do a whole lot of talking.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Giants’ QB Situation

Most of the attention on the Giants’ quarterbacks room this offseason has been focused upon Daniel Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in April’s draft, and Eli Manning, the 38-year-old two-time Super Bowl MVP. But as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, the battle to be Big Blue’s third QB is expected to become quite heated once training camp opens next month.

Jones was able to quiet some of the negative chatter surrounding him with an impressive spring, and Schwartz says that if the Giants are convinced the Duke product will be able to step in for Manning whenever he’s called upon — and OC Mike Shula has already expressed that level of confidence in Jones — then the club may elect to keep just two signal-callers and send both Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney packing.

Between an October arrest and a poor professional debut, Lauletta, a 2018 fourth-round pick, has dug himself into a bit of a hole. Although Lauletta is just 24 and had enough upside to merit a mid-round selection from the Giants’ new regime, Schwartz says that the 31-year-old Tanney — who has played a total of one game in his professional career, which came in 2015 — is the current favorite to stick around. After all, New York signed Tanney to a two-year, $2.1MM contract with $775K guaranteed this offseason, which was a fairly telling show of faith.

Tanney has learned several offensive systems in his career and is a quick study, so the Giants see him as a better complement to Manning and Jones. Even though waiving Lauletta just one year after drafting him would not be a good look for the Giants’ front office or coaching staff, New York can’t worry about that just now.

And although it would be shocking if Jones were named the starter to open the season, there are already some rumblings that the Giants should do just that. If Jones builds on his spring performance with a strong training camp, Schwartz suggests the gap between the rookie and the 15-year year vet could close.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.