New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was conspicuously absent during Super Bowl week. He was nowhere to be found when the past winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year crowned the 2018 recipient. It turned out Manning had a pretty good reason to not be around: the birth of a child.
Manning and his wife, Abby, welcomed son Charles Elisha (Charlie) Manning within six hours of the completion of Super Bowl LIII. Charlie is the fourth child of the Mannings. He joins sisters Ava (age 7), Lucy (age 5), and Caroline (age 3).
Manning has a young family. It is highly unlikely he would want to uproot them in order to continue his NFL career. On Wednesday, the notion of him departing the team that traded for him more than 14 years ago became a moot point.
Head coach Pat Shurmur took the podium at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Wednesday. He put all the talk surrounding Manning’s future with the team to rest quick fast and in a hurry.
“I think Eli can help us win games. He proved—when the players (around him) started playing better—that he can play at a very high level,” Shurmur said. “I want Eli back. He’s back. Let’s get ready to go.”
It only took 36 words to evaporate a year’s worth of speculation.
For what it’s worth, Manning put up respectable numbers in 2018: 380 of 576 for 4,299 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His 66 percent completion percentage was the highest of his career and quarterback rating of 92.4 was the fourth highest. Manning had his seventh 4,000-yard season while throwing the second-fewest interceptions in a season where he started all 16 games.
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Unfortunately, the Giants went 5-11 and missed the postseason for the sixth time in the seven seasons since winning Super Bowl XLVI. Manning was front and center for blame when the team began ’18 with a 1-7 mark. The Giants played infinitely better in the second half of the season, going 4-4 and averaging 26 points per game.
Still, the media in attendance continued to grill Shurmur about sticking with Manning. Shurmur, known in NFL circles as a quarterback guru, refused to bow down.
“I fully expect him (back),” Shurmur said. “I’m a body collector. I want to keep all the players we have and add new ones. And I really feel that way about Eli.”
In 2019, Manning will make $11.5 million in base salary, a roster bonus of $5 million, and a workout bonus of $500,000. He will carry a cap hit of $23.2 million. It is possible the Giants restructure Manning’s deal to make it more team-friendly.
Shurmur made it abundantly clear the Giants could still take a quarterback in April NFL’s Draft. It could work out in the team’s favor to do just that. There is no better teacher for a young quarterback than a two-time Super Bowl winner who never missed a game due to injury with a Hall of Fame resume.