When Olivier Vernon signed his five-year contract with the Giants, the $85 million played a large role in his decision. At the time, though, he said there was one other factor that carried just as much weight. After four years with the Dolphins and missing the playoffs each season, he wanted to come to an organization that had a championship-caliber quarterback, one who had already won a title, and one who could help Vernon get his own ring.
He wanted to play with Eli Manning.
“I told (Manning) I’m here because of you,” Vernon told Newsday during last year’s training camp. “Eli, he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He’s been there before. It’s hard for a team to get a quarterback. There are not too many teams that have a quarterback nowadays.”
Not even two years into his tenure with the Giants, Vernon is back to being on a team that doesn’t. At least not this week. Manning has been benched for Geno Smith, who may at some point this season be benched for Davis Webb, and by the time the season starts in 2018 all three of them may be afterthoughts behind some first-round rookie.
“At the end of the day, it’s football, it’s a business,” Vernon told Newsday on Thursday. “There are not too many things I’m shocked about when it comes to this business. I told myself, ‘Man, just do what you have to do and everything else will work itself out.’ ”
Vernon said the decision to bench Manning is “above my pay grade. I have no control over that. I didn’t think we were going to be in this situation. But whatever decision they make is the decision they make. I have nothing to do with that.”
Now Vernon faces the possibility of playing the rest of his time with the Giants — potentially longer than he’s already spent with the team — without Manning. He may have to play through a rebuild if there is a new coach and a new young quarterback. It is, quite literally, not what he signed up for.
“Man, I respect the hell out of Eli,” he said. “It’s unfortunate what happened. But all I can do is sit back.”