Fourteen loyal years of service, more than 200 straight starts, and a pair of Lombardi Trophies that wouldn’t have been won without him ultimately didn’t secure for Eli Manning the ability to end the 2017 season as the Giants’ starting quarterback.
Even though coach Ben McAdoo says that the decision to bench Eli for Geno Smith doesn’t mean that Eli’s time with the team is done (as if McAdoo will be making any of those decisions), the Giants should do the right thing by Eli Manning and cut him.
Surely, he won’t be back with the team in 2018. Given the structure of his contract, he’ll likely be cut not long after the Super Bowl. So cut him now. Let him go.
Actually, he may not want to be released. If released, Eli would be subject to waivers. Anyone (including the Browns) could claim his contract. If he fails to show up, Manning would owe the team that claims him more than $12.4 million.
So who would be inclined to claim him on waiver? The Browns surely would consider it, as would the Bills, the Jets (maybe), the Jaguars, the Texans, the Broncos, and the Cardinals. But if he had no interest in playing for any of those teams, would the team go through with grabbing his rights?
Eli’s preference surely would be to become a free agent, and to join the most viable contender he could find: The Jaguars, where he’d be reunited with Tom Coughlin.
Even if it doesn’t happen this year, that could be exactly what happens comes 2018.