It was an interesting season for the New York Football Giants in 2018. While we saw the emergence of a star running back in Saquon Barkley, we also witnessed the regression of a two-time Super Bowl MVP in quarterback Eli Manning. Following the exciting announcement of Barkley’s 2018 Rookie of the Year honors last weekend, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the Giants are starting to develop a core of players they can build around ahead of their 2019 schedule and the subsequent seasons to come.
After being drafted out of Penn State University with the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Barkley put together an historic rookie campaign during which he amassed a total of 2,028 yards from scrimmage, 15 overall touchdowns and zero fumbles for the G-Men while becoming only the third rookie RB to surpass 2,000 yards from scrimmage in NFL history, joining Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only other players to achieve that success in their respective rookie seasons (in 1983 and 1999).
While I still believe that the Giants failed Eli Manning over the past three years; from firing Tom Coughlin (his coach since his rookie year and through two Super Bowl runs), to being forced into a West Coast type offense under a terrible head coach that did not utilize his strengths, and finally to being stuck behind an offensive line that hasn’t provided protection for the last six seasons, I think there is still a lot of potential for this new era of Giants football that will most likely come to fruition after Manning is gone.
While I continue to view Barkley as one of the core players which the Giants can build around (and not as their 2018 NFL Draft blunder), this makes the Giants next ten draft picks (plus at least one additional pick after compensatory draft picks are awarded) in the 2019 Draft even more significant as they continue to rebuild their hole-ridden roster before training camps open in late July 2019.
This means that the Giants will most likely be drafting a quarterback with their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins seems to be their rumored target early on in every ‘experts’ haste to fill out their mock drafts. Moreover, there’s been some speculation that seems to indicate the Giants will try to trade up from their current number six pick in the draft to get a higher selection to secure Haskins and ensure they exit the first round with the quarterback of their choice.
However, regardless of which QB they end up with, it appears that the Giants will look to follow the Kansas City Chiefs blueprint for grooming their future franchise quarterback and have him shadow Eli Manning for one year, like Patrick Mahomes II did behind Alex Smith, before promoting him over Manning to become Big Blue’s permanent signal caller. Assuming this is the plan, Eli Manning will be the starting QB for the Giants in 2019 (the last year of his current contract), playing the part of former Chiefs QB Alex Smith, and Haskins will play the part of current Chiefs QB Mahomes and hopefully turn out to be as great or better, once he takes the reins in 2020.
From Eli Manning’s perspective, however, this may be the motivation for him to seek a trade to another team; perhaps one who is just a QB away from Super Bowl contention. Personally, I don’t think Manning is done with football just yet. Even Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner echoes a similar belief when commenting on Manning’s situation, “It’s time to go somewhere like his brother did, and find a better fit, so he can still have success.”
Maybe Warner is right and maybe it is time for Manning to go to a team where he could finish his career with some postseason success. Obviously as a Giants fan I would hate to see him go to another team, but as an Eli Manning fan I must agree with Warner and wish for Manning to play somewhere he can win and not be the blame for seemingly every single bit of misfortune that has befallen this Giants team in recent years; and that is not on a rebuilding roster.
But there is also hope for the Giants and a promising future. Saquon Barkley is coming off a season in which he was appropriately named the Rookie of the Year over Cleveland Browns QB, Baker Mayfield. Odell Beckham Jr. is under contract through the 2023 season. Landon Collins’ status with the G-Men remains to be seen, following his 2018 season-ending shoulder surgery and free agent status. However, I think the Giants will end up franchise tagging him and bring him back as someone they can begin developing a strong defense around.
Now as the NFL offseason begins for all teams, I suspect General Manager Dave Gettleman will have loads of hard decisions to make before the Draft in April, including how he will spend his ten-plus draft picks, and whether he will use his high draft picks on a Quarterback, or a Defensive back, or an Offensive Lineman to address the Giants needs on both sides of the ball.
As of now, all I know is that Eli Manning will still be the signal caller in 2019, and what I don’t know is how ready and close his replacement will be and what shape that will leave the Giants in the post-Manning era.