As the New York Giants have salvaged a disastrous start to the 2018 season with a recent 4-1 stretch, it looks like the reign of Eli Manning under center is going to continue for at least another year. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday that the 37-year-old “may be playing his way onto the roster” next season.
It’s a complete 180-degree turn in philosophy from the Giants, who were indicating that Manning’s 15-year run as the organization’s starting quarterback was on the verge of ending after the team started 1-7.
While the Giants offense was one of the worst in the NFL for over a year at the halfway point of the 2018 season, it was difficult to pin the blame on Manning. An inept offensive line gave the immobile quarterback no time in the pocket to hit his aerial weapons. Unable to find a suitable answer to bolster the offensive line, it seemed that the Giants’ best bet was to shift things to a more mobile quarterback that could at least extend the play.
But in-season tinkering that was headlined with the acquisition of Jamon Brown during the team’s Week 9 bye week along with a shift in prioritizing rookie running back Saquon Barkley and the rushing attack has seen the Giants offense reawaken.
The Giants are averaging 31.4 points per game after posting just 18.8 during the first eight weeks of the year.
All the while, Manning has actually been solid when looking at his numbers. He’s on pace for a career-best in completion percentage with a 67.7-percent mark while amassing 3,460 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He’s thrown just two picks in his last 143 attempts entering Week 15.
But should the Giants invest next season in Manning, who will turn 38 on Jan. 3?
If there is a lapse or injuries along the offensive line, Manning once again becomes a sitting duck, which will only stall the offense like the 2017 season and the first half of 2018.
This recent stretch of winning play has doomed the Giants from having a chance at drafting a franchise quarterback in 2019. With a weak class of upcoming passers, the only forecasted star is Oregon’s Justin Herbert, who will likely be snapped up in the top five if he officially enters the draft.
As a placeholder for a long-term solution, the Giants could think about considering Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who is not expected to return to the franchise that drafted him 18th overall in 2008 after the emergence of rookie Lamar Jackson.
Flacco, a New Jersey native, is 33 and a fellow Super Bowl MVP like Manning. His numbers have never jumped off the page with a career 61.7-percent completion percentage and a 16-game average of 3,754 passing yards, but he provides a small upgrade when it comes to mobility, albeit not much. With a sizeable chip expected to be on his shoulders after his unceremonious benching, it could be worth the Giants taking a flyer on him this offseason if Manning struggles in the final few games.