There is nothing unusual about Eli Manning holding a media session or speaking on a conference call the first day the Giants open their offseason program. That the 38-year old quarterback will do so, again, on Monday is par for the course, given the position he plays and the team spokesman role he fills.
This time around, though, is different. Manning is back for a 16th season, once again locked in as starter, after enduring an uneasy limbo-like period when his return was far from guaranteed. The Giants qualified for the playoffs only once in the past seven years and Manning was at the helm of the offense in every game but one in that span. The end of the line has never appeared closer for Manning than it does right now and his arrival at the team facility for the first day of workouts feels like the beginning of an end.
Normally, Manning on a day like this addresses many team-related issues. He never sweats the small stuff. This year, many of those issues relate back to him. Here are five questions Manning is sure to get and might find challenging to answer:
1. How does it feel knowing, for the first time in your career, you will enter a season on the final year of your contract?
This is simply not done very often — not with a player of Manning’s longevity, accomplishments and respect level within an organization. Yet this is the direction the Giants are headed with Manning, who will play on the final year of the four-year, $84 million extension he signed prior to the 2015 season. Co-owner John Mara explained, “At this stage of his career you take it one year at a time.’’ Manning the past few years could see the end of the line up ahead, but this tells him it is closer than ever.
2. Manning completed 390 passes to Odell Beckham Jr. in the past five seasons and now the star receiver has been traded away and will be catching passes from Baker Mayfield. How will the offense be different without him?
Throwers do not appreciate seeing their best catchers sent packing. Manning had a solid relationship with Beckham and took delight in seeing a short pass go for a long gain once Beckham found a seam and kept on running.