The New York Giants kicked off Week 8 with a firesale by trading cornerback Eli Apple and stud defensive tackle, Damon Harrison, clearing $8 million in cap space for next season and acquiring 2019 fourth- and fifth-round picks and a 2020 seventh rounder.
After a disappointing 1-6 start to the season, New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman is stocking up on draft equity before Oct. 30th’s trade deadline to begin his rebuild of a franchise that has gone 4-19 in its last 23 games.
With the possible exceptions of superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr., rookie running back Saquon Barkley and All-Pro safety Landon Collins, no one on the G-Men is guaranteed untouchable.
All eyes have been on two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, Eli Manning, who does have a no-trade clause in his contract. Whether No. 10 finishes his career in New York or doesn’t, a full team rebuild is not ideal at this point in the soon-to-be 38-year-old’s career.
Plus, is there are market for Manning’s services?
Manning’s time in the NFL is short, which makes his place in the New York Giants future plans murky. The question of whether he has what it takes to make the Giants winners again has long been an elephant in the room since ex-head coach Tom Coughlin was nearing the end of his tenure in New York.
It’s not as if the Giants organization hasn’t tried to avoid this inevitable roster Ragnorok to spare what was left of Manning’s prime.
Even former GM Jerry Reese has made the effort to put talent around Eli on the offensive side of the ball. Since the Super Bowl XLVI victory, Reese, Gettleman and the New York Giants front office have used six of their last seven first-round picks on offensive players.
When the Giants failed to make the playoffs from 2012-15 despite the attention to offense, Reese responded by breaking the bank for defensive superstars spending a staggering $193.75 million in free agency for defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and Harrison.
The Giants broke their playoff drought in 2016 thanks to a solid season from Manning who impressively adjusted to a new scheme but also benefited from an admittedly soft schedule where seven of New York’s 11 wins came against opponents who finished the season at .500 or below.
Still, Manning looked destined to finish his illustrious career with at least a couple of more shots at postseason glory.
Then, 2017 happened.
Injuries and ex-head coach Ben McAdoo’s miscues led to a lost year and another major coaching staff change. Unfortunately, Manning turned another year older in the process.
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Enter 2018, the Giants made the decision to pass up on a quarterback at No. 2-overall for the best football player in the draft in current Rookie of the Year front-runner, Barkley. Despite Saquon’s historic season thus far, the bottom has quickly fallen out.
Again, another lost year for Manning – another year older.
This week’s trades
Now, Harrison and 2016 first-round pick, Apple, are gone. Jenkins could be next. Out of those six first-round offensive players selected since 2012, only tight Evan Engram, OBJ and Barkley remain while running back David Wilson and offensive tackles Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers are a distant memory.
To fix the mess created by former New York Giants brass, Gettleman will need time and money—luxuries Manning has exhausted. Per Spotrac, he is set to account for $23.2 million against the team’s cap in 2019—his final contract year—creating a rock-and-a-hard-place situation for both Gettleman and Manning moving forward.
Eli is likely safe from being moved this season for many reasons but the two biggest being his no-trade clause and that he still is the best quarterback on this team’s roster, giving the New York Giants the best chance to win in a season already lost.
If the G-Men do select a quarterback in the upcoming draft, there would be no better leader, teacher and teammate than Manning to groom the future of the Giants franchise.
But depending on head coach Pat Shurmur and Gettleman’s plans, $17 million may be too steep a price to pay for a mentor and the sunset that Manning has rightfully earned to ride off into.