Eli Manning walked out of the Giants’ locker room a day after winning the regular-season finale over the Redskins. Was it the final time he walked out as the team’s starting quarterback?
Manning faces an offseason of uncertainty, and despite receiving initial assurances from newly hired general manager Dave Gettleman that he goes into 2018 as the starter, there are no guarantees.
“This is what I want to do. I want to play quarterback for the New York Giants,” Manning said. “That’s what I hope happens and obviously, we’ll talk and figure out what’s the plan for the franchise going forward.”
He acknowledged, however, that this is the first time in his NFL career that he’s not sure if he’ll be back the following season.
“Yeah, you could probably say that,” he said.
Manning is under contract through the 2019 season and is scheduled to make $16 million in 2018 in salary and bonus money. Would he agree to a pay cut or a restructured contract in order to return next season?
“We’ve got to figure out all those things,” he said. “A lot of conversations have to be had with management before we get into all those things.”
Manning also wouldn’t say whether he’d like to be traded if he wasn’t the starter next season.
“Those are all situations and scenarios we’ll have to talk with Mr. Gettleman [about] and figure out what his plan is and make those decisions later,” he said.
One thing that hasn’t wavered is Manning’s confidence.
“I feel like I can still play at a high level,” he said. “I feel like I can make the throws, and if you get the right guys around, that I can be very effective and play at an extremely high level.”
Complicating matters further for Manning is that the Giants have the second overall draft pick and might select a quarterback. Manning understands that could be the case, and if it happens and he remains with the Giants next season, he’ll be supportive.
“I think I’ve always been a good teammate and whatever quarterbacks are in there,” he said. “I think you’re always talking football. I don’t think you’re ever specifically a mentor. You’ve got a job to play quarterback and get ready, but I think you’re always helping the other guys and learning from the other guys in the room and, hey, they help me, I would help them.”
Manning called the Giants’ 3-13 season the hardest of his career.
“Yeah, I’d say so. Just dealing with a lot,” he said. “It’s never fun losing a head coach [Ben McAdoo] in the middle of the season . . . There’s more uncertainty this year than after others. But it’s always a disappointing day, that the season’s over, [other than] the two years you win Super Bowls, where it’s not. It’s always tough that it’s coming to an end and another year that didn’t go as we wanted. You just try to learn from each game, each year, each situation and try to be better for it.”
Despite the myriad problems this year, Manning said there are lessons to be learned.
“I think you try to find different things,” he said. “I think over these next few weeks, you kind of reflect a little bit more on the whole season and try to figure out how you can prevent it from happening again. If there’s anything you can do — in football there’s things you can control and there’s a lot you can’t control. So, you just try to figure out ways that you can improve upon yourself and how you can make the other guys around you better as well.”