Keidel: Eli Manning Extension Talk Another Sign Giants Lack A Concrete Plan

Jason Keidel
April 01, 2019 - 12:42 pm
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For fans who dismissed Dave Gettleman as a snake-oil salesman who is trying to airbrush Eli Manning's image just to make his final season more palatable, think again.

The Giants' general manager, who publicly and profoundly defends his quarterback against all cynics and pundits, is more than a short-term fan of the man under center.

Gettleman is all-in on Eli. And maybe not just for 2019. 

If you listened to "Boomer and Gio" on Monday morning or read the reports they referenced, you should wince at the idea that Big Blue still expects big things from Peyton's younger brother, who's hardly a young man.

Last week, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano wrote two troubling stories about Big Blue's brass going with the "Kansas City model" and extending Manning into 2020 is not out of the question.

In their eyes, the Giants can roll with Manning -- who plays the role of Alex Smith -- until they unearth their next franchise quarterback -- who will play the role of Patrick Mahomes.

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The glaring hole in this plan is twofold. First, Alex Smith was 33 when the Chiefs bagged Mahomes out of college. Eli will be 39 next year. 

Second, Smith was still playing at a Pro Bowl level while they groomed Mahomes. Smith completed 67.5% of his passes and threw for 4,042 yards with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2017. He also led the NFL in interception percentage (1.0) and passer rating (104.7).

By contrast, Manning was 37 last year. He passed for more yards (4,299) than Smith did a year earlier, but he also threw fewer touchdowns (21) and considerably more interceptions (11). Plus his passer rating (92.4) was noticeably worse. And that was one of Manning's better years.

Let's remember that the Chiefs were 9-6 in Smith's final 15 starts in Kansas City. The Giants are 8-23 in games Manning has started over the past two seasons.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning and general manager Dave Gettleman
USA TODAY Images

Plus there's the fact that the Giants don't have Mahomes -- or anyone remotely similar -- in the pipeline. 

In fact, Giants co-owner John Mara has asserted that there's no pressure on Gettleman to draft a quarterback this year if the GM doesn't see one with sterling grades.

So if we take the shot-callers literally, there's no rush to draft or trade for Manning's successor in 2019. That means the Giants could indeed keep Eli around this year and next year -- just keep his contract open-ended until they decide it's time to replace him.

The Mara family is known for prudence and patience. They didn't give into public pressure by booting Tom Coughlin before he bagged two Super Bowls. Since Manning was at the helm perhaps they've sprayed faerie dust on his decline, devolving from old-world sagacity to outright silliness.

The Giants lost the long PR leash when they passed on a quarterback in 2018. While Saquon Barkley was a wonder, he didn't turn the team into a winner. A running back doesn't have the QB's power, or the potential to save a floundering franchise.

So we assumed (erroneously) that Gettleman passed on a passer in 2018 because he had a plan for 2019. 

What's worse is the folks above the GM on the G-Men totem pole have his back no matter how myopic he is. 

So what now? The Giants wait until Manning is drawing two checks -- from the team and Social Security -- before they consider his replacement?

The Cleveland Browns went from a farce to a force with one move -- drafting Baker Mayfield. Likewise, the Jets and Bills are giddy over their sophmore signal-callers.

The Giants have a slew of draft picks. Yet it looks very possible that none of them will be used to find their next franchise quarterback.

Fans don't mind if you stink today as long as you have a fine plan for tomorrow. 

The Giants have the first half covered. They will get back to you on the rest, which already tells you too much.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel.