Eli Manning wants to keep playing football, and he prefers to keep playing it with the Giants. He said in a radio interview on Wednesday that “it’s hard to imagine” playing in another uniform.
But he knows that’s happened to some of the biggest names in sports, many times before.
So what happens if things do go wrong with Manning and the Giants between now and the start of training camp in July? What if the only place for Manning to continue his NFL career does turn out to be someplace else?
Where could he possibly go?
There are, not surprisingly, very limited options for 38-year-old quarterback who still wants to be an NFL starter. He’s almost certainly not going someplace else to be a backup, unless the Giants outright cut him. And he’s not going to want to go someplace else to simply be a placeholder for a young quarterback getting ready to play.
That leaves him with only a handful of non-Giants options – if he has any real options at all:
This has long been a rumored possible destination for him due in large part due to team VP Tom Coughlin. Also, two years ago they were in the AFC championship, and they felt they had the talent to make a championship run this season, but no one believes quarterback Blake Bortles is the one to get them there.
If Manning is available, would Coughlin bring him in to try to get the Jaguars over the top? It’s possible. Manning would certainly be comfortable there. They also apparently have some interest in Joe Flacco, if and when the Ravens dump him. And some around the NFL think a Manning-Coughlin reunion isn’t the slam dunk that many believe.
John Elway tried this before, adding a Manning to the mix to lead what he thought was a championship-ready team. It worked out the first time with Peyton, and there’s no doubt he’d have some interest in Eli. The Broncos have been on a quarterback carousel under Elway, and he’s got no problem with bringing in someone to be a short-term fix.
He also has a couple of great pass rushers on defense and some decent pieces on offense, including young running back Phillip Lindsay to take some heat off the quarterback. Manning would be an upgrade over Case Keenum. Maybe he couldn’t do what his brother did, but he could give the Broncos a shot.
No way he’d play in the NFC East, you say? Sure, and Bill Parcells would never coach the Cowboys (or Jets). If he has no other options, Manning will go where he has a chance to play and start. That makes the Redskins intriguing, because they felt they were on their way to the NFC East title before quarterback Alex Smith broke his leg. Given his setback after surgery, no one seems sure he’ll be back for the start of the 2019 season – or the 2019 season at all – and they’re not going to ride Mark Sanchez or Josh Johnson for a full season.
Would they lure Manning down I-95 to try to make a run before they go find a quarterback of the future? If Manning isn’t happy with the way things end with the Giants, this would be definitely be a good way to get his revenge.