INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants are committing to Eli Manning as their starting quarterback for at least one more year. Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine that they expect Manning to remain with the team in 2019.
"Well, I think Eli can help us win games, and he proved when the players around him started playing better that he can play at a very high level and help us win games, so at this point I want Eli back," Shurmur said from Indianapolis. "He's back."
Asked specifically if he expects Eli Manning to be on the team in 2019, Shurmur said, "I fully expect him [back].
"[General manager] Dave [Gettleman] will tell you I'm a body collector. I want to keep all the players we have and add new ones. I really feel that way about Eli," he said.
Shurmur's comments come amid speculation that the Giants would look to move on from Manning, their longtime starting quarterback, either by selecting a rookie quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft (they own the No. 6 overall pick) or by signing a veteran quarterback in free agency. Manning's cap hit for this season is $23.2 million. Retaining him would not preclude the Giants from drafting a quarterback.
Gettleman is still hoping to get a quarterback with their first-round pick, but have him sit behind Manning this season.
The Giants aren't buying the idea that Manning has reached his NFL expiration date. Gettleman believes he can make all the throws necessary to be successful, and much of the criticism is unwarranted despite having missed the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons.
"I've really been thinking about this. The narrative around Eli for the past four years, five years, since I've been gone, has been really negative," Gettleman said. "The narrative has been negative. There is an old saying, 'Tell a lie long enough and you'll believe it.' The narrative is so negative that when you take that position, most people struggle getting off that spot. Most people struggle saying, 'I'm going to look at that with fresh eyes.'
"I think the narrative has been negative, and I don't think it has been fair."
Manning will enter the final season of his contract in 2019 and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $11.5 million. It seems unlikely his contract will be adjusted.
"He's under contract," Gettleman said. "He gets paid what he gets paid."
If the Giants were to release him, they would save $17 million on their salary cap. But that is not the plan despite an up-and-down 2018 campaign that saw Manning finish 25th out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks with a 51.6 QBR.
Manning, 38, completed a career-best 66 percent of his passes last season and threw for 4,299 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Thirteen of the 21 touchdown passes came in the second half of the season, when the Giants stabilized their offensive line.
"I firmly believe, it's just like, this is the ultimate team sport, and it takes everybody playing at their best. There isn't one player that can carry you," Shurmur said. "So the challenge was, and I think we shined a bright light on it, the players around Eli needed to play better, and so did he. And as the year went along, that kind of started to happen."
Manning has thrown for 55,981 yards, 360 touchdowns and 239 interceptions in 15 seasons with the Giants since the team traded for him in the 2004 draft and has led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles. He's entering the final year of his current contract and has expressed a desire to continue playing. Shurmur said last year he thought Manning had "years" left. He still thinks that is possible.
"The one thing I know is that in the last half of the season -- let's just talk on offense -- when the guys around him were playing better, really that allowed us to see more of what Eli could do because I don't think any one player can carry a team," Shurmur said. "They all have to be able to do their jobs well. We found a way to block more efficiently and allow him to do the things he needed to, and by blocking better we ran the ball better. It's really a coordinated effort.
"That's why I still think the years thing is true."