ATLANTA – Former Giants quarterback Phil Simms believes Eli Manning will return as the starter in 2019, but that the Giants are likely to draft a quarterback as soon as this year to groom as Manning’s replacement.
“I’m getting the sense that the Giants are more determined to draft a quarterback, and I think they will,” said Simms, the longtime NFL analyst for CBS. “When, I don’t know. Everybody says they’ll take one (in April) with the sixth pick. I’m not so sure of that. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Simms said last month that he believes Manning could be the starter in 2020 as well, but was a bit more tepid on that assessment during Tuesday’s CBS pre-Super Bowl news conference on Tuesday.
“I think so,” he said when asked if he felt Manning would return next season. “I think Eli knows if he comes back, he’s going to be the starter. What rookie is going to do well enough to unseat him? (But) from there, the grace period (for Manning) is very small.”
Simms said the Giants’ 5-11 season in 2018 was “rough” for Manning and the team. “They had some good moments,” Simms said. “I thought the team came together toward the end of the year and like all quarterbacks, if your team’s playing pretty well, you’re gonna do pretty good. But sometimes you have to overcome and do more. I think that’s probably what’s frustrating to him, to the fans. Sometimes, you’ve got to find a way to win. I played in a lot of those. It was rough. Not saying I won the game, but you just fight, and you hang in there and you take your beating and the game is over you go, ‘God, I can’t believe we won.’”
Did the Giants’ organization learn something the way they handled the end of Simms’ career and perhaps consider how they’ll handle the day Manning is told to move on?
“Oh, you mean after the year we won a playoff game, we went 11-5 and I went to the Pro Bowl that year? Oh, I’ve gotten over that,” Simms said sarcastically.
Clearly, his release after the 1993 season still hurts. Simms underwent elbow surgery after the season and never played in the NFL again.
“It’s a different world now,” Simms said. “They would have never let me go, because I’d have been a franchise quarterback. This new phrase, God, we bow and kiss and that’s why they keep them. It’s hard to take a franchise quarterback out. Why? Perception ... money.”