The last time the Giants made concessions to their future at the expense of their present, Eli Manning was the beneficiary. He was named the starting quarterback as a rookie in 2004 on a team that was still vying for a playoff spot.
Now he’s on the other end of the equation, the centerpiece of the win-now plan that has been abandoned seven weeks into the 2018 season and without a definite place in the team’s long-term plans.
So how does a 37-year-old quarterback with a short shelf life to his NFL career handle being with an organization that is gazing down the road to a nearly complete rebuild of its roster?
Manning said he’s trying to focus simply on his day-to-day responsibilities.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about,” Manning said. “I’m thinking about playing for the Giants this week against the Washington Redskins. That’s the mindset. I haven’t brought myself to think about another scenario.”
Others, of course, are. With the Giants trading CB Eli Apple and DT Damon Harrison this week, anyone could be next. Including Manning.
Manning told Newsday he expects to be a Giant at this time next week, once the NFL’s Oct. 30 trade deadline has passed. He has a measure of control over that with a full no-trade clause in his contract, something he said was “just kind of agent stuff” inserted in the deal he signed before the 2015 season. He said no one has approached him about waiving that clause.
Manning also told Newsday on Wednesday that he still wants to finish his career with the Giants. He’s said that in the past, but this was a recommitment to the franchise on his part in light of the recent trades.
How much longer the franchise will be committed to him remains to be seen.
Over his 15 years in the NFL, Manning has seen a lot of changes. This, though, is the first time he’s watched a team be dismantled around him during a season. It’s a jarring situation for all of the players. For Manning, who just this offseason received a huge vote of confidence from the new regime running the team, it must have him wondering if the next time he’s around to see the Giants put a winning team on the field will be when he comes back for induction in the Ring of Honor.
“My focus and my worry is on Washington and playing good each game this season,” Manning said.
After that? Well, that might bring about another first for him.
With Bob Glauber