ATLANTA — Phil Simms said Tuesday that the Giants should bring back Eli Manning in 2019 but also draft his successor, and draft him now. And the former Giants legend believes they will do exactly that.
“I think it’s evident they gotta get somebody ready,” Simms said at a CBS Super Bowl press conference. “Let’s say it’s a Philip Rivers situation [behind Drew Brees in San Diego], you have to wait two years or whatever. They need to get a quarterback in that they know is gonna be the next guy.
“They’re gonna draft a quarterback this year. I think they should. Time to do it. Eli could handle it. We drafted Dave Brown the first round [of the 1992 supplemental draft] when I was with the Giants. It worked out all right. We were great friends. We learned to work together and hung out together and it was awesome.”
Simms said he believes Manning would be amenable for the first time in his career to a situation where he would start the season — but not necessarily finish it.
“I don’t think they’re gonna go out and sign a free agent and take Eli’s job. I don’t see that,” Simms said. “They need a transition, and that transition’s gonna be a year, it could be two years, it could be six games, whatever. I think [Manning will] be their starting quarterback opening day.
“They’re gonna bring a quarterback in, in-waiting, and how Eli plays and how the team does determines how long Eli’s in there.”
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Asked if the Giants should bring Manning back, Simms said, “I’m not saying that as an ex-Giant or anything like that, I think they should.
“He’ll make whoever they bring in with it, it’ll be a great transition. He’s a gentleman, he’ll do the right thing, he’ll work hard, and they’ll hold the kid, whoever it is, they’re gonna see the standards really high and how tough it is. I lived it.”
Simms played his entire 14-year career with the Giants, and after fleetingly visiting Cleveland thinking about playing for then-Browns coach Bill Belichick, Simms passed, and is glad he did. Everyone knows Manning would relish retiring a Giant.
“I think it means a lot to him,” Simms said. “It should. I almost went somewhere and played. I’m so glad it didn’t work out, because it’s so much better to be known just as that. I went anyway, but we don’t remember Joe Namath playing for the Rams.”
Simms does not see Nick Foles as a Giants option.
“The Giants are not gonna sign Nick Foles,” Simms said. “I would be shocked if they signed Nick Foles.”
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It isn’t because Simms feels that Foles would be a bad fit in New York.
“I just think they’re looking for something different,” Simms said. “I think they’re looking for the new guy. If they’re looking for a one-year player, I don’t think that’s Nick Foles. He wants to go somewhere where he has a chance to be ‘the guy’ for three or four years or whatever.”
Simms has yet to fully study Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins — the top-rated quarterback in the draft, followed by Missouri’s Drew Lock.
Asked if the Giants can win with Manning, Simms said, “Will they win the Super Bowl next year? No. Probably not. But I kind of thought they came together pretty good at the end of the year, I could see where they’re going.
“I’m still a big fan of [coach] Pat Shurmur’s offense, and I’m a big fan of [coordinator] James Bettcher’s defense. They had some rough moments that kind of surprised me on the defensive side, but I think they’ll straighten out. Sometimes you just gotta go back and look at the work and go, ‘We didn’t have the guys to do what I was doing here,’ so you learn even as a coach.
“I think the Giants will be definitely a different product next year. It’ll be better.”
Bring back Manning. And let him pass the torch. And sooner rather than later.