In a year marked by a spate of early-season quarterback injuries, the Giants are in remarkably good shape at the position.
Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), Drew Brees (thumb), Cam Newton (foot), Nick Foles (clavicle), Matthew Stafford (hip) and Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) are all hurting to varying degrees. In a quarterback-driven league, the fact that the Giants have all three of their healthy quarterbacks available is an obvious luxury.
But with Daniel Jones having supplanted Eli Manning as the starter and with the list of quarterback injuries around the league getting longer by the week, two questions come to mind as the Oct. 29 trade deadline approaches:
1. Would a contending team in need of a quarterback contact the Giants to see if Manning is available?
2. Would Manning, at age 38 and in the final year of his contract with the Giants, consider waiving his no-trade clause if he had a chance to play somewhere else?
When asked about his future shortly after Jones was elevated to the starting job last month, Manning was vague.
“I’ll get into futures later on,” he said. “Right now, my future is I’m the second-string quarterback for the Giants.”
Manning has been the dutiful backup, assisting Jones when he can in practice and on the sideline during games and largely remaining in the background to give Jones a wide berth as he navigates the transition.
It is an awkward and uncomfortable position for a player who had been the starting quarterback through nearly all his previous 15 seasons with the Giants, although Manning has gone out of his way to stay out of Jones’ way.
But with more and more teams facing injury problems at quarterback, there certainly is the possibility that teams will at least inquire about Manning’s availability. He entered the season believing he still can play winning football, and despite his 0-2 record to start the season, it stands to reason he continues to feel that way.
Would he be tempted if a team with legitimate playoff hopes makes an inquiry? My sense is that he would.
Is there a scenario in which Manning actually would allow a trade to go through? I don’t think you can completely discount it, because he is as competitive a player as I’ve ever been around, and it must be eating at him that he’s not playing.
But would a trade come off?
At this point, my sense is that Manning will remain a Giant and retire a Giant at season’s end. The one caveat: If he wants out and there is a team willing to deal for him. At this point, though, the options seem limited.
Despite the plethora of injuries around the league, there might not be as big a market for Manning as you’d think.
In Pittsburgh, for instance, 2004 draft classmate Roethlisberger is out for the season after undergoing elbow surgery. But the Steelers seem intent on giving Mason Rudolph, a third-round pick in 2018, a long-term look until Roethlisberger returns next season.
Manning frequently has been linked to the Jaguars as a potential landing spot because of the presence of former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, now the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations. Foles will be out for an extended period after undergoing surgery for a broken clavicle. But rookie backup Gardner Minshew has done quite well in Foles’ absence, which probably closes the door for Manning in Jacksonville.
Stafford wound up on the Lions’ injury report before last week’s game against the Chiefs but wound up playing the entire game in a 34-30 loss. A bye week helps, but if Stafford’s injury persists, the Lions could have some interest in Manning, because they are not deep at the position.
The Bears appear set with Chase Daniel as Trubisky’s understudy.
Brees’ return to the Saints after undergoing thumb surgery is only a matter of a few more weeks.
Kyle Allen has won both starts for the Panthers in Newton’s absence.
A potentially more overarching factor than quarterback injuries on other teams is the Giants themselves. Despite the early switch to Jones, the Giants might not want to part with Manning for purely selfish reasons. They’re 2-2 and only a game behind the first-place Cowboys, so why give up the luxury of having a viable backup with Manning?
There’s no guarantee that Jones will get through the season without running into injury problems, especially because he is prone to running with the football and leaving himself open to taking some big shots.
And with the Giants looking much more competitive in their last two games and Jones showing an athletic maturity far beyond his years, they figure to remain competitive in the near term.
That may keep Manning on the sideline, but it also might keep him on the roster.
After all, you’re only a quarterback injury away from disaster. When you have an insurance policy as good as Manning, why give that up?