was sacked 39 times last season and threw a league-high 27 interceptions. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Could Eli Manning be on the decline? It's a question the New York Giants front office may be asking itself, according to ESPN.
Now 33, Manning had his worst year in 2013 since becoming a full-season starter. He finished with a 69.4 quarterback rating after throwing a career-high 27 interceptions and being sacked a career-high 39 times. His 18 touchdown passes were his fewest since 2004, when he only played in nine games as a rookie.
MORE: 2014 NFL Mock Draft | Top WRs | Top TEs | Top QBs | Top RBs | SI64
His poor play has understandably raised concern about his skill level moving forward, and that may have played a part into why the Giants opted not to extend Manning's contract this offseason, even though such a move would have saved them significant money on their salary cap.
There are those who wonder whether Manning is a player in decline at age 33. This is a question that has not gone unasked within the ranks of the Giants' front office. It is part of the reason the Giants decided not to try this offseason to extend Manning's contract, which runs through 2015, even though doing so would have offered them significant salary cap relief. They would like to see him pull out of his downward trend before they commit to his late 30s. Their hope is that he has a big year and that extending him next offseason makes sense.
While Manning looked nothing short of awful last season, in fairness to the former Ole Miss star, he was dealing with a near absent running game and a patchwork offensive line.
Regardless, the upcoming season could be make or break for Manning, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle April 10 and is expected to be sidelined six weeks.