In the end, it became more evident than ever that the Giants must plan for their football life after Eli Manning. It does not mean Manning will be or should be released, indeed he could well be important for the inculcation of the next Giants starting quarterback, which could take several months or more than a year.
But Manning, who will be 38 years old next month, isn’t going to turn back the clock. If things go as poorly in the Giants’ final two games this month as they did against the Titans, it’s possible Manning will retire. Adding to the pressure of that decision will be the harsh reality of Manning’s 2019 salary, which is slightly more than $23 million.
The Giants will have a hard time affording a new, young free agent quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater, currently with New Orleans Saints, and Manning.
For the hearty fans who braved a drenching rain to watch the Giants get shut out Sunday — MetLife Stadium was never more than a third full — the notion that Manning’s days as the face of the franchise were dwindling had to be omnipresent.
It was a dreary afternoon, and for Giants fans clinging to be joyous memories of Super Bowl victories in 2008 and 2012, the end of the Eli era will be far more depressing than a day of soaking rain. A career Giant, Manning not only helped revive a dormant franchise, he willingly gave his time and money to countless causes in the New York-area community. He carried himself laudably after wins and losses in a demanding media environment, something he was still doing late Sunday afternoon.
At a podium just off the locker room, Manning took the blame for the missed connections with his receivers — “poor throw by me” or “just didn’t execute like I wanted” — and he conceded that he had not done enough to help the Giants resurrect their season.
Of his ill-timed third-quarter fumble, Manning was, as he almost always is, plain-spoken: “It slipped out of my hands. I tried to push it out late. But right there, I have to back up, hold onto the ball and take a sack if I have to. I can’t turn it over to them and give them that good field position.”