Should the Giants re-sign quarterback Eli Manning to back up Daniel Jones in 2020?
Manning had a very special farewell game in his last home win against the Miami Dolphins in week 15, but it is clear that the soon to be 39-year-old can still play.
In two starts with Jones out, Manning went 1-1 with a 63.5% completion rate, throwing for 486 yards, four touchdown passes, and three interceptions.
He also had the offense playing at a highly competitive level getting into overtime against the Eagles, only to have their defense squander the game away.
The following week against Miami, the Giants thumped the Dolphins 36-20, racking up a then-season high 412 total yards.
Of course, some might argue the Giants 0-2 record with Manning at the helm to start the year.
The Giants offense accumulated over 400 yards of total offense in each game as it was rather the defense that didn’t give them much of a chance allowing a combined 63 points against the Cowboys and Bills.
While Manning wasn’t the reason they were losing games, head coach Pat Shurmur felt it was time to make the switch to his sixth overall draft pick in Jones with hope to provide a spark.
The Giants would win their first two games with Jones starting under center, but then go on to set an abysmal new franchise mark losing nine straight games, eight of which occurred with Manning on the bench.
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To go further back, the Giants started out 1-7 last year with Manning at quarterback. This was due in part to the offensive line struggles, which general manager Dave Gettleman was able to semi-patch up when acquiring guard Jamon Brown from the Los Angeles Rams at the trade deadline.
Once Brown was acquired, things began to clique for Manning and the Giants offense in the second half of the season as they finished with a 4-4 record averaging 27 points per game.
They arguably could’ve finished 7-1 to cap off the season had their defense not collapsed with the lead in the final minutes of several matchups against the Eagles, Colts, and Cowboys.
Manning started 210 straight regular-season games and did not miss anytime due to injury in his 16-year-career. Jones has already sat out two games in his rookie season due to a high ankle sprain.
While he did not miss a large chunk of time, anytime missed by a quarterback can have repercussions on a team’s season which is why having an experienced quarterback is important.
Given that Jones becomes a target, especially when he turns into a runner—all quarterbacks are prone to injury, but the odds tend to increase even higher with a mobile quarterback given that you have two people moving at top speed facing the potential for a collision—there is a concern that Jones could be vulnerable for such a hit that could lead to time lost.
With Manning’s contract expiring after this season, it's been reported that he still wants to play and believes he can still be effective. Could he go elsewhere? There is certainly that chance but given that he was not willing to waive his no-trade clause in his contract this year, it's fair to wonder if he really wants to uproot his family for what would likely be a short-term stint with another team.
However, if he’s still able to play and wishes to stay put—and the two late-season games played demonstrated that he still has some gas left in his tank—why not bring him back on a two-year deal with incentives that’s fair for both sides?
It would be beneficial for Jones if Manning stuck around as a mentor and he could also serve as an insurance plan if Jones misses anytime next year with an injury.
And if Manning, who appears to still enjoy playing the game as much as he did when he himself was a rookie, can’t find another team willing to make him a starter, then why not explore the possibility of extending his tenure, already at a franchise-record 16 years, for at least one more season?