Barring A Big Turnaround Over Final 10 Games, Veteran Manning Will At The Very Least Be In A Competition Next Season

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The end may be near for Eli Manning in New York.

Barring something dramatic happening over the final 10 games this season, the Giants appear ready to change their quarterback dynamic in 2019. They could acquire someone through a trade or in free agency to compete against Manning or cut the two-time Super Bowl MVP outright, The New York Times reported Monday.

Manning, who will turn 38 in January, has been good in certain areas so far this season, averaging 277 yards per game and completing a career-high 68.7 percent of his passes, but the Giants are among the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL, sitting 27th with just 19.5 points per game, heading into Monday night’s meeting with the Falcons in Atlanta.

Eli Manning, Michael Bennett

Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, scrambles before fumbling the ball on a hit by the Eagles’ Michael Bennett during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 11, 2018. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Manning threw just 19 touchdown passes last season and the Giants finished 3-13. He has just six scoring tosses so far in 2018 and Big Blue is 1-5. While no one is saying Manning is mostly to blame for New York’s rough start, that type of production has led to normally staunch supporters questioning if he still has what it takes to be a big-time starting quarterback. Odell Beckham Jr. called out Manning in an interview with ESPN earlier this month. Though the loquacious wide receiver later apologized for the manner in which his words came out, he did not back away from his sentiment.

Perhaps Manning can’t throw the deep ball anymore.

“I don’t know,” Beckham said when asked if there was an issue at quarterback. “Like I said, I feel like he’s not going to get out the pocket. He’s not — we know Eli’s not running it. But is it a matter of time issue? Can he still throw it? Yeah, but it’s been pretty safe and it’s been, you know … cool catching shallow (routes) and trying to take it to the house. But I’m, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody.”

Even Giants owner John Mara offered just lukewarm support to Manning during an interview last week at the owners meetings in New York.

“I think when you’re 1-5, it generally means that everybody needs to play better, so he’s not alone,” Mara said of Manning. “I still… we still believe in him, but everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now that’s not happening. I know he’s the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better when you’re 1-5.”

Manning went 24-of-43 for 281 yards and an interception in the Giants’ 34-13 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6. New York played like it never had a chance against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Now, who exactly could challenge or replace Manning as the Giants’ starter is anyone’s guess. New York passed on several top-flight quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, deciding instead to select Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick. And while Barkley has been as good as advertised, it has led many to wonder who exactly the heir apparent to Manning will be. The Giants will likely need to come close to being as bad as they were last season to have a shot at getting a high enough pick to select Oregon’s Justin Herbert, who is the consensus top signal-caller right now in college.

But there’s no guarantee Herbert, who is only a junior, will declare for the NFL Draft.

Other potential options include West Virginia’s Will Grier, Duke’s Daniel Jones and Missouri’s Drew Lock.

Hence, the New York Times’ report on Monday suggesting the Giants will likely look to the trade market or the open market to find someone to at the very least compete against Manning next season. The top free agents available are expected to include Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater. As for in-house options, it’s hard to know how the Giants really feel about Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta, though one or both could see some significant playing time during the second half of the season if the losses keep piling up.

Manning is scheduled to make $23.2 million in 2019, the final year of the four-year, $84 million contract extension he signed on Sept. 11, 2015.