The speculation has begun as to where Eli Manning will play football next year and it already seems to be a race between the Broncos and Jaguars.
The MMQB’s tied-in staff seemed to think it was a slam dunk that Manning would wind up in a Broncos uniform in 2018.
Here is Andy Benoit’s take: It’s been a miserable season for the Giants…and head coach Ben McAdoo’s idea (or someone above McAdoo’s idea) is to now bench the most iconic, respected leader on the team, even though he hasn’t played poorly. Has Eli Manning missed some throws this year? Sure. Has he had a few bonehead turnovers? Of course (he’s good for four or five a year). Do his positives still outweigh his negatives? Overwhelmingly.
Manning has played with no wide receivers (New York’s top four all got hurt), a suspect offensive line and without a running game. Best case scenario: replacing him with Geno Smith changes none of this. Worst case scenario: it exacerbates the problems.
The Manning Era has run its course in New York. He’ll be in the Ring of Honor one day. But next year, expect to see him in a Broncos uniform. An elder Manning has helped John Elway’s team once before, and Elway knows he still has a Super Bowl caliber defense, though maybe for only another year or three years. Manning can immediately right Denver’s reeling offense. Look for that in 2018.
Here is Peter King: Manning’s smart enough to survey his options in 2018 before doing anything rash. The Broncos will want him, to be sure. John Elway could recreate history; six years after bringing Peyton Manning to Denver to reignite his career, he could do the same with his brother. Jacksonville too, with Tom Coughlin importing the prize passer he won two Super Bowls with. But what if McAdoo gets fired and a coach who intrigues Manning – and who loves him – gets hired? What would Josh McDaniels or David Shaw think of Manning and what would he think of them? Plus: Keeping Manning could allow the Giants to trade the second or third overall pick in 2018 (or whatever it turns out to be) for a treasure trove of draft choices if either the GM doesn’t love the college quarterback crop, or he feels Manning has three or four good years left.
The Jaguars would actually be a better fit for Manning if his first intention is to win another Super Bowl. He’s obviously extremely tight with Coughlin and the Jags defense is already one of the best units in the NFL. Denver has better top-flight receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas but we’ve seen the Denver D slide dramatically this season. There also the real possibility that Eli doesn’t really want to follow in Peyton’s shadow. His legacy would look much better if he brought Jacksonville (of all cities) a title over the been-there-done-that Broncos. Of course, Eli once scoffed at going to small market San Diego in favor of the bright lights of NYC. San Diego is Tokyo compared to Jacksonville.