There was uncertainty a year ago, but not like this. After another losing season and one day removed from his 38th birthday, Eli Manning on Wednesday sounded very much like a quarterback unsure he will ever again suit up for the Giants, or for anyone else in the NFL.
“We’ll see,’’ Manning said on WFAN.
It has never been this tenuous for Manning. General manager Dave Gettleman, in his state-of-the-Giants media session, would not commit to Manning for 2019, promising “some brutal honesty’’ and some “tough decisions’’ in the days and weeks ahead as he evaluates what went down as the Giants finished up 5-11. Gettleman certainly did not rule out a return for a 16th season for Manning, though.
“I don’t know if it’s leaning one way or the other right now,” Manning said. “I think this is kind of the time to reflect and figure out what’s the best thing going forward.”
Giants won't commit to Eli Manning after 'no holds barred' meeting
The day after another losing Giants season came to an…
Manning said all involved with the decision need to do some “soul-searching’’ to determine if he can be the quarterback on a team that can cast aside the losing and get back to winning. The Giants have missed the playoffs six times in the past seven years and have 24 losses the past two seasons — tied with the Browns for the most in the league.
“It does take a toll,’’ Manning said. “You got to search and try to figure out what you can do different or what you can do better. It’s tough on you personally, it’s tough on family, it’s tough on the team.’’
At this point, he is not thinking about retiring. Manning reiterated, “I love playing football’’ and he likes this team and the coaching staff. Physically, he feels fine, having once again started all 16 games in a season.
“I want to play because I like the team and the players and the personnel,’’ Manning said. “I think there’s an opportunity to be a good team. I feel healthy, I can last a full season, can still make throws, can still make all the throws I need to make to be a quarterback in the NFL.’’
With a full no-trade clause in his contract, Manning can block any move to another team and admits he cannot see himself in another uniform. His goal is to finish where he started, with the Giants.
“Those are things you just got to figure out once everything presents itself,’’ he said, adding, “It’s hard to imagine that’’ when asked about playing elsewhere.
If the Giants decide to move on from him, Manning said, “That’s when you just got to truly think about what you want to do and how it’s gonna go. Especially as you get older, and I know what it’s like to go into a new offense and new players and a new coach, it’s not always that easy transition you hope it’s gonna be.’’
Manning, after stability for 12 years with Tom Coughlin as his head coach, has been rocked with two new coaches in the past three years, with new offensive systems to learn.
Manning could certainly be asked to take a pay cut by the Giants, as he is scheduled to count $23.2 million on the 2019 salary cap. He is due a $5 million bonus if he is on the roster March 18, so that is one target date to keep in mind.