Karpin: Eli is a Giant Question

Three Dog Night had a hit with “Eli’s Coming” but the Giants will have an emotional hit with “Eli’s Going.” It’s not a matter of if but when.

As their dismal 2018 season comes to an end after Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, the Giants will begin their prep for 2019. All indications are that will include Eli Manning as their starting quarterback.

Are the Giants making the right decision? Of course, that remains to be seen but there is no questioning the fact that the Giants need to start the process of finding Eli’s replacement.

Manning’s contract will carry a $23.2 million dollar hit against the Giants’ cap next season so I’m wondering if management will ask Eli to take a pay cut. If the Giants cut Manning, they would save $17.2 million against the cap and take on $6 million dollars in dead money.

The cynical crowd that includes “Eli haters” are saying the Giants made a mistake by not taking a quarterback in the Draft, but that argument is weakened a bit by the fact that they made a good decision in drafting Saquon Barkley. If Barkley was a bust, then the Giants deserved to be lambasted for a bad choice but that is not the case.

The bottom line is that the Giants need a quarterback for the future but that future should also include a big wide receiver, an ingredient that tends to be overlooked when assessing Eli and the Giants’ offense of the past few years.

The Giants have shown the ability (with Eli) to move the ball between the 20 yard lines but then stall when they get in the “red zone.” Part of the reason for that lack of success is the lack of a big, physical receiver. With less room to operate, opposing defenses can be physical with the smaller receivers like Beckham Jr, and Sterling Shepard. The Giants can’t expect Beckham Jr to out jump the defenders, he needs room to operate which limits his productivity in the “red zone.”

Manning had a big receiver in Plaxico Burress when they won Super Bowl 42. They had smallish receivers like Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham when they won Super Bowl 46 but they had a big, bruising running back in Brandon Jacobs and a big tight end, who wasn’t great, but was functional in Jake Ballard.

Even if the Giants had taken Sam Darnold, he would’ve sat behind Manning this season and, all things being equal, would have maybe gotten some snaps down the stretch. Darnold wasn’t following anyone of Manning’s ilk with the Jets. The eventual successor to Eli will be trying to fill some pretty big shoes and will be measured by the accomplishments of the 15-year veteran, particularly the two Super Bowl wins.

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