Giants quarterback Eli Manning might come across as often being in his own little world at times, but he’s very much aware of what’s going on around him.
And yes, that includes his contract status with the team as he prepares to enter his 15th season as a Giant and his first as a lame-duck quarterback, a status that he said has no bearing on how he intends to get ready for the upcoming season.
“I think you treat it the same as any year you come in,” he said on a conference call with reporters after the Giants completed the first day of their 2019 off-season program.
“Had a good offseason, worked hard and I am excited about getting back with the team and the coaches. Going into that second year, you have an advantage because you know what the offense is a little bit and what the coaches like.
"Things you want to improve on, certain plays and concepts in the offense that you have some time to work on. I think it is just a mindset to work on the things that you need to improve on to help the team. Keep doing the things that you were successful with.”
At the end of last year, things weren’t as concrete for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Fresh off the emptions of a 5-11 season, there was some doubt expressed by both Manning and the Giants front office whether the two sides would continue their relationship moving forward.
As far as Manning was concerned, he made up his mind rather quickly.
“I didn’t have to think about it long,” he said of his decision to play a 15th NFL season.
“This is what I do and what I like to do, and I have worked extremely hard the last few months to get ready. I liked how the team rallied toward the end of the year with the coaches. Everyone got on a better page together. Could have won a few more games but had great opportunities to win, but we are headed in the right direction.
The Giants, according to Manning, took a little longer in their evaluations, letting the quarterback know sometime in the last several weeks that they wanted him back, presumably making that decision before the combine when both head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman told reporters they anticipated having Manning back.
But just because Manning is coming back, that doesn’t change the fact that he is, at least for the time being, on a year-by-year contract basis, this year being the final one of his last extension, or that the Giants need to get his heir in the building sooner than later.
“I never concerned myself with (being a lame duck),” he said. “I think every year I am just worried about that next year. That is what I am thinking about. I am thinking about right now with this team. Getting rolling, getting wins and doing whatever it takes to be a good teammate to get this team winning football games.”
Nor is he worried about having his eventual replacement in the quarterbacks meeting room.
“Yes, I can see the Giants getting a young quarterback. I understand that,” he said. “I still have to do my job. I will do my part. Same as last year. Go out there, play quarterback, win football games. That is what I am trying to do.”
And yes, he would be willing to do what he can within his role to help get his successor ready for the big stage, just as he’s always done with the quarterbacks who have come and gone in the Giants meetings room.
“I have always felt that in the quarterback room I have always had a great relationship with everyone. All the QBs, we have drafted quarterbacks and have had young quarterbacks in there. I enjoy talking football and enjoy talking ball--giving tips on coverages, protections, concepts. Everyone is trying to help each other,” he said.
“It is an open conversation for everyone to get ideas and everyone just sticks around after to get on the same page. That is just part of being a quarterback. I have enjoyed putting in the extra effort and the work getting everyone comfortable and up to speed [and] helping young guys trying to learn a new offense.”
When Manning does eventually call it a career, don’t expect any advanced notice at the start of the season or any elaborate farewell tours to take the focus away from the team.
“I think I will go the traditional route. I thought that was a baseball thing. I know some basketball players have done it, but I don’t see going out that way,” he said.