The awkward, clunky transition from Eli Manning to someone not named Eli Manning has gotten even more awkward and clunky for the Giants.
But at least they have a post-Eli option, in the form of sixth overall draft pick Daniel Jones. The question becomes when Jones will play. That question lands at storyline No. 16 on our #CountdownSZN list for 2019.
The Giants have suggested the KC model (sit for a year, in reference to Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith) and the GB model (sit for three, in reference to Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre). Then there’s the NYG model, which the team used 15 years ago, benching Kurt Warner (who was 5-4 at the time) for Eli during Eli’s rookie year.
Of course, there’s also the “we used a top-10 pick on a quarterback for a reason” model, which points toward making him the Week One starter. After the draft, the clues of Jones potentially starting from the get-go were hiding in plain sight — given that the Giant thought enough of Jones to make him the sixth overall selection, and given that Eli is widely believed to be in decline.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur initially pooh-poohed the possibility, but clearly kicked the door open to a potential competition at the conclusion of the offseason program.
Ultimately, it’s a simple analysis. If Jones performs as well as the Giants thought he would (given that they made him the sixth pick in the draft), he should be able to win a fair and square competition with the fairly square Eli Manning. If, after all, Eli were playing at a level that would make him the sixth pick in the 2019 draft, the Giants wouldn’t have taken Jones.
So now the question becomes whether Jones performs during training camp and the preseason in a way that makes the Giants think he was indeed worthy of being the sixth pick. Given the intense criticism that the Giants received for making Jones the sixth pick, maybe they’ll be inclined to let the two compete — and to quietly root for Jones to win.
At some point, Jones will play. When he does, the Giants will find out whether he was indeed worthy of being the sixth pick in the draft. Along with everyone else.
If the Giants ultimately decide to go with Jones from Week One, a very interesting decision will have to be made about Eli. He has a no-trade clause; unless he’d waive it, the options will be to keep him, paying $11.5 million in addition to the $5.5 million he has earned in roster bonus and workout bonuses, or to cut him loose before that $11.5 million becomes fully guaranteed at the start of the regular season.