The New York Giants voted unanimously to bench starting quarterback Eli Manning on Tuesday. Manning has played 14 seasons in the NFL, all with the Giants, and has accumulated a streak of 210 consecutive starts at quarterback for the G-Men. That streak will come to an end this Sunday when the Giants start Geno Smith in Manning’s place.
Manning ranks 10th on the Most Consecutive Starts in NFL History with 210 consecutive starts, including 12 consecutive starts in the playoffs. Manning has started every game for the Giants dating back to November 21, 2004.
Manning is a two-time Super Bowl Champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and a four-time Pro Bowl player in his 14-year career.
The benching of Eli raises the age-old question in sports: How do you part ways with a player who is past their prime?
Manning, 36, led the Giants to the playoffs last season, their first playoff trip since 2011. In the 2016 playoffs, the Giants were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers.
The Giants have played very poorly this season, posting a 2-9 record through 11 games. Manning has thrown 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season. The main culprit of the Giants’ woes this season are injuries; with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. being the biggest loss for the Giants’ offense.
Other notable players that have been injured for the Giants this season include defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Kelvin Sheppard, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
All signs report to this being the last start in a Giants uniform for Eli Manning, who has two years remaining on his current contract. Although Manning has two years remaining, the Giants do not owe him any more money, as they already have paid him all of his guaranteed money. Therefore, the Giants could cut Manning without having to pay him money. The only affect that would result in cutting Manning would be a salary cap hit of $12.4 million in 2018 and $6.2 million in 2019. Comparatively speaking, those are manageable cap hits for the Giants, who are located in the number one market in the nation.
The Giants plan to start quarterback Geno Smith, 27, this week when they play against the Oakland Raiders, and are hopeful that their 2017 third-round draft pick, Davis Webb, 22, will also see some playing time.
The possibility of the Giants trading Manning is very low. The NFL is currently in a youth movement when it comes to the quarterback position, and the aging Manning would not add significant value to a team that is trying to make a late playoff run.
The issue with Manning is that he throws too many interceptions. Excluding this season, due to his benching, he has only thrown less than 10 interceptions once in his career, when he threw 10 interceptions during the 2008 season.
Quarterback Geno Smith was drafted in the second round in 2013 by the New York Jets. When given the opportunity to start for the Jets in 2013, Smith was abysmal. He recorded only 12 touchdowns, while throwing 21 interceptions and losing four fumbles on the year.
Smith had some playing time for the Jets in 2015 when he replaced the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. Smith ended up getting injured during the game, forcing the Jets to substitute him with the injured Fitzpatrick. In his last NFL start, Smith only survived eight pass attempts before having to be replaced by Fitzpatrick.
The Giants may also opt for Davis Webb, a third-round draft pick in 2017 from the University of California – Berkeley. In his only season at Cal, Webb threw for over 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns, while only allowing 12 interceptions in 12 games.
The Giants have a lot of question marks entering the game against the Oakland Raiders, but one thing that is for certain is that Eli Manning will not be the starter and his time in New York may finally be coming to an end.