4 best trades in NY Giants history
By Toby Grundy
In 2022, we’ve seen some of the biggest trades in NFL history. Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams have all found new homes in blockbuster deals. One team that has been quiet in the period, due to salary cap issues inherited by the previous regime, has been the NY Giants.
This hasn’t always been the case, however, with the franchise being responsible for a number of extremely high-profile trades in its long and eventful history. Let’s take a look at four trades which changed the history of the franchise for the better.
4. Eli Manning in 2004
Undoubtedly the biggest trade in Giants history is the one which brought Eli Manning to East Rutherford. Manning is now known as one of the greatest Giants of all time. He brought two Super Bowl rings to the Big Apple, both on the back of Super Bowl MVP performances. Off the field he was also a star, winning the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year award and being the face of the franchise for almost two decades.
He epitomized everything Giants fans loved about their team, and their city, in a 16-year career filled with memorable moments. The team that beat the 18-0 Patriots, the David Tyree helmet catch, an inch-perfect Super Bowl lob to Mario Manningham, and a recreation of the famous dirty dancing scene with Odell Beckham Jr. – all incredible (in their own way) moments in Giants history.
All involving Manning at quarterback. Famously – or infamously depending on who you ask – Manning was almost never a Giant. Something which would have changed NFL history dramatically.
After an outstanding career at Ole Miss, all the talk ahead of the 2004 draft was that Manning would be the No. 1 overall pick, held at the time by the San Diego Chargers.
The college standout had made it clear that he preferred not to play for San Diego ahead of the draft, however, stating his desire for the Chargers to go in another direction with their pick. Seemingly unphased, or potentially plotting a haul in a trade for the quarterback, the Chargers ignored Manning’s requests and drafted him anyway.
As it turns out, the decision was a good one by San Diego. New York was interested in Manning, and after some draft-day communication, it became clear the Giants would need to draft Philip Rivers, and send some further draft capital in order to facilitate a trade.
Ernie Accorsi, the Giants general manager at the time, would later reveal he had Ben Roethlisberger as his preferred choice with his pick, rather than the Chargers’ choice of Rivers.
"“I would have been happy with Rivers, but I wanted Ben. I took a risk. If he would have called back and said I’m backing out of this trade, there’s no Ben for me.” Accorsi told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette."
Fortunately for both sides, the Giants drafted Rivers and then traded him to San Diego along with a 2004 third-round pick and a first and fifth-round pick in 2005, altering the state of both franchises and the NFL for the next almost two decades.
Impact on the New York Giants
As it would later turn out, the Giants potentially couldn’t have gone wrong with their selection in 2004, with all three quarterbacks finishing with incredible NFL careers. Manning started 234 regular season games for the Giants, finishing his long career in New York with a list of accolades up there with some of the best to ever play.
His 366 career touchdowns on 57,023 yards would result in finishing as a two-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, four-time Pro Bowler, and he’s the holder of almost all the franchise passing records to go with a number of NFL postseason records from that eventful 2011 run. You would be hard pressed to find a single New Yorker who would want that 2004 draft day to go any differently.
It may also be fair to say that San Diego and Pittsburgh are happy with how the 2004 draft day went as well.
Both Rivers and Roethlisberger would go on to play over 220 games each, passing for north of 63,000 yards and 400+ touchdowns in two incredible NFL careers. A long list of franchise passing records now feature on both players’ football resumes, with Rothlisberger finishing his (likely) Hall of Fame career with two Super Bowl victories – an achievement level with that of Manning, while Rivers was never able to win a Super Bowl ring during his career.
There will always be debate about the 2004 quarterbacks, and which franchise got the best signal-caller after that eventful draft day. Regardless, Manning will go down as one of the greatest Giants to ever play the game. Still with the franchise in 2022, albeit no longer as a player, the trade continues to bring reward to the franchise and its fans decades after that eventful day in 2004.