So, was it worth taking up $23.2 million in salary-cap space on a backup quarterback who got to start the first two games before he was kicked to the sideline in order to get a rookie first-round draft pick on the field?
“We’re fine with it,’’ Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday.
That Eli Manning was brought back, retained his starting job and then jettisoned after only two games did not seem to make much sense, given how often Gettleman reassured everyone he felt Manning had plenty left in the tank and that his success late in the 2018 season was not a “mirage.’’ Why continue to commit to Manning when Jones, taken with the No. 6 pick, was waiting in the wings and set to fly so soon?
Manning, it appeared at first, would get more than a couple of games — losses to the Cowboys and Bills — to prove at 38 years old he could still get the job done. Perhaps half a season, certainly more than two games. Why coach Pat Shurmur pulled the plug so quickly — and ownership and Gettleman signed off on benching a franchise icon — had little to do with Manning and everything to do with the 22-year-old Jones.
“Here’s what I would say — we really believed in Daniel; we didn’t know he’d come that fast,’’ Gettleman said. “You’re talking about a kid that played at Duke in the ACC. We had taken him at six — we didn’t blink. We just didn’t realize he’d come that fast. At the end of the day, it was time.
“Daniel had a terrific year. We see great things for him in the future.’’
Manning did get back on the field, starting a loss to the Eagles and a victory over the Dolphins, when Jones was out with a high ankle sprain. In his 16th season, Manning took the demotion with class, helping Jones behind the scenes and on the sideline, and after the season admitted it was quite an adjustment.
“Backing up is not real fun,’’ Manning said.
Someday, Jones will look back on his rookie year and likely will appreciate having spent one season with Manning.
“Eli was great with him,’’ Gettleman said. “Who better to learn from and who better to have his back? Eli’s a pro’s pro. A big piece of being the head coach, being the quarterback, the general manager of the New York Giants is speaking with you folks and getting the message to our fans. That’s another reason, who better for Daniel to learn from than Eli Manning?’’
Even if it cost more than $23 million on the salary cap.
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