The big headline from Indianapolis today is: “Manning Will Be Released.”
One day that could be the headline here. Or maybe it will be “Manning Traded.” Or “Manning to Retire.” Or “Manning Decides to Give PGA Tour a Try.”
However it happens, whenever it happens, it will happen. Hate to shoo away the post-Super Bowl glow, but Eli Manning will not be the Giants’ quarterback forever. If you think he will be, that there is plenty of time left to enjoy his play on the field and maybe collect a few more of those shiny trophies, just ask a Colts fan how time flies.
Consider this. Manning has only four years left on his current contract at a value of $55.9 million. $17 million of those dollars are in his base salary for the 2015 season, the final one on his current deal. He’ll be 34 years old during that season. Will he get another deal from the Giants before that expires? How rancorous will those negotiations get? Did his eventual replacement on the Giants just recently sign his national letter of intent to attend some big-time college?
Eli Manning’s current deal expires just shortly after his 35th birthday. Peyton Manning is 35 right now (although he turns 36 in a few weeks).
Eli knows this. He spoke about it in January, the day after he missed one practice with a stomach bug while his big brother was missing an entire season with neck surgery.
“I think we’re reminded every year how fortunate we are to play this game and how quickly it can slip away,” he said just a few days prior to the NFC Championship Game. “Whether it’s an injury, whether it’s one of your teammates who you’ve had here who gets let go, you never know when your last play might be.”
“You [don’t take any] play for granted, any season,” Manning added.
Not that Eli needs to worry about any of that now. He’s in his prime, having just turned 31 with a pair of Super Bowl MVPs to his name. He has a young, dynamic receiving group, a stable franchise, and the apparent health and strength to continue playing for as long as he would want to.
It is a business, though. A ruthless one. With little sentimentality.
But if a time ever does come when Manning’s days with the Giants are over, when they decide that they have to start looking for their future quarterback and stop paying him millions of dollars, Eli shouldn’t worry too much.
The Jets will probably be in the market for a quarterback at that time. He can always play for them.