Oh, it's the offseason, and that means it's time for kooky speculation. On that front today, we have Matt Williamson including the New York Giants in a list of five teams that should consider trading for Buccaneers backup quarterback Mike Glennon.
Williamson's reasoning is rooted in the idea that Glennon is a talented player who's had some encouraging experience in the league already and deserves a chance to start somewhere. I can't argue with that, though the quality of the player is likely the reason Tampa Bay has no interest in trading him. Quality backups are pretty hard to find at that position, and the Bucs' projected starter right now is a rookie.
As for the Giants specifically, Williamson points out that Eli Manning is entering the final year of his contract and concludes: "The prudent move in 2016, given the cost of a potential Manning extension, would be to let Manning walk and hand the reigns over to Glennon."
Respectfully, Matt, I disagree, and my strong belief is that the Giants do too.
The Giants' willingness to let Manning play out the final year of his deal without an extension has nothing to do with any concern about his performance or cost in 2016 and beyond. Their feeling is that, since he's not offering them any kind of discount at this point, there's no harm in waiting -- especially with the franchise tag at their disposal as a means of keeping him off the market next spring.
The Giants are used to devoting a large percentage of their salary cap to the quarterback position, are comfortable operating that way and have a fair bit of financial flexibility in the coming years. There aren't many players -- Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Pugh, Ereck Flowers, Dwayne Harris, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ... maybe one or two more -- to whom the Giants have any kind of significant financial commitment beyond 2015. And multiple people close to the situation have told me the Giants are okay with paying Manning a franchise-player price that's not all that much higher than the $19.75 million cap cost he carries this year if that's what it comes to.
I really believe the only thing that could create a parting of the ways between Manning and the Giants after this season is a significant injury to Manning. And the fact that that concept -- a significant injury to Eli Manning -- sounds so bizarre is exactly why they place more value on Manning than an analysis such as Williamson's assumes.
Manning is certainly not a a flawless player. His star-studded résumé carries its share of pockmarks. But he is two things of significant value that very few teams have:
1. He is a quarterback who literally plays every game. He has not missed a game since becoming the starter in 2004.
2. He is a quarterback about whom his team doesn't have to wonder whether he can win a Super Bowl. He has won two.
How many quarterbacks fit both of those criteria? How many teams out there are starved for a quarterback who fits even one? If Manning hit the open market tomorrow, at least a dozen teams would be interested. His new salary would make his current salary look like a book of food stamps. The Giants know and appreciate this. If the league's financial structure compelled them to give him his extension now, they would. But it doesn't, so they wait, confident that they'll be able to keep him regardless.
Williamson is correct that scarcity at the quarterback position makes Glennon one of the more attractive potentially available options for quarterback-needy teams. But scarcity of reliable high-end talent at the position is what makes Manning essential to the Giants' plans for as long as he can play. As tough as things have been lately for them in the standings and throughout the rest of their roster, they're in no rush to join the sad, desperate gaggle of teams that spend their offseasons sifting through could-be quarterbacks and trying to find the one that'll stick.