Sunday afternoon, the end of the 2019 regular season will come to its conclusion. This means that 20 teams will no longer have games on the schedule while the final 12 will head to the playoffs. For New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, this could bring an end to his long career that once began in 2004.
With the Giants out of playoff contention, they will be beginning to address critical aspects of the offseason. Head coach Pat Shurmur could be fired, but his future has not been made public. There are also many pending free agents that could be in line for new contracts. One such figure, Manning, will be an unrestricted free agent due to his contract running out, and there is a belief that he could simply retire.
As Ralph Vacchiano of SNYLive wrote, there are 15 players on the roster that will see their contracts come to an end in the coming months. Manning is among this group and is unlikely to return in Vacchiano's assessment, simply due to his age and relegation to a backup role.
It's Daniel Jones' ball now, and there's no way Manning would want to return to stand on the sidelines and watch his successor. The Giants probably don't want that either. Most likely, the Giants icon is going to retire. If not, he'll have to find a new home.
Originally the first overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 NFL Draft, Manning ultimately landed with the Giants via trade. He was sent to the Big Apple in exchange for fellow rookie quarterback Philip Rivers and three picks. This swap kickstarted a 15-year career in which Manning led the Giants to the Super Bowl twice and defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the game's biggest stage.
Considering that Manning will be 39 years old in a matter of weeks, it's entirely possible that he will walk away from the NFL for good instead of searching for a home with a different franchise. He has matched his older brother Peyton, with two championship rings, and he has become a beloved figure in New York.
According to Vacchiano, it's far more likely that Manning retires. Although he could look for a one-year deal with a ready-built team. Would Manning simply play one more season with a different team, much like Emmitt Smith did when he left the Dallas Cowboys for the Arizona Cardinals?
With one game remaining on the schedule, Manning's future is unknown, but he could provide a semblance of an answer on Sunday evening. If he does truly walk away from the NFL, he will do so as the most popular quarterback in Giants' history.
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