What does the Odell Beckham trade mean for Eli Manning? If you take Archie Manning’s yesteryear warning as fact, it may just spell the end of No. 10 in New York.
“If Eli is done playing, I’m fine with it,” the elder Manning told ESPN just before the new year. “But if he comes back, the Giants have got to win. They can’t go through another season like this.”
Focus on those last eight words.
Back then, there was a glimmer of hope GM Dave Gettleman could turn it around for one more miracle run with Eli at the helm.
The Giants won five games last season — with Odell Beckham and Landon Collins.
Now both are gone, with the star receiver following Collins out of town in a stunning trade Tuesday night. Beckham is off to Cleveland, where he’ll team up with the type of franchise quarterback Gettleman passed on last April — Baker Mayfield, taken one pick before Saquon Barkley — and a roster craving its first postseason trip since 2002. The Giants allowed Collins to leave uncontested in free agency.
That leaves a depleted defense and an offense now void of threats, Barkley aside. The Giants might as well change their famous moniker to Big Bust.
The Giants brought back a first-rounder, third-rounder and safety Jabrill Peppers for Beckham. They got nothing for Collins. Combined with the Giants’ limited offseason moves to date, that won’t be enough to inspire hope for a suffering fan base. And suffering Giants fans are angry Giants fans. Loud ones.
Which brings us back to the top: What to do with good, ol’ Eli.
What is he still doing here?
Manning is due a $5 million bonus Monday. If Archie was speaking on behalf of his son, then Gettleman might as well pull the plug on the longtime face of the franchise. Hand him the money as a parting gift, set up a farewell and be done. He can’t go through another season like this.
If Gettleman wants to go that route, this is the season to do it. Between Beckham and Olivier Vernon, whom the Giants also shipped to Cleveland, the team has $24 million in dead cap this season. That is, money counting against its salary cap for players no longer on the roster. That is also, almost 13 percent of the cap for two guys on the Browns. Not the best circumstances for a 5-11 team looking to retool.
At the NFL Combine, Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur confirmed speculation that Manning will be back. The duo’s plan is to follow the “Kansas City Model” — draft a quarterback early, whether that be Dwayne Haskins or in a more unlikely scenario, Kyler Murray, and have him sit in the shadows until he’s ready to take the reigns. Then again, Gettleman also said he “didn’t sign Beckham to trade him,” so his words aren’t exactly reassuring.
The News’ Pat Leonard has long-suggested the franchise ax Manning and his $23.2 million cap hit, which would save the team $17 million this coming season, and go another direction. Leonard proposed Foles, but he’s off to make Kirk Cousins money with the Jaguars. Options are slim.
But options are slim no matter what. Especially if Eli thinks he’s going to play for a winner.