Eli Manning heard some of the speculation that Odell Beckham Jr. was on the verge of being traded, but he said he never really took it seriously. He always envisioned himself throwing passes to Beckham this upcoming season.
And perhaps next season. And maybe even another year or two after that.
"I never got too concerned with it," Manning said on the first day of the Giants' offseason workout program on Monday. "We all know the talent that Odell has and what he brings to the football field. And I look forward to playing with him this year and for years to come."
Yes, he said "years", which is about as strong a statement the 37-year-old Manning is likely to ever make about the future - both his future and that of his star receiver. Beckham, of course, is headed into the final year of his rookie contract, and is seeking a lucrative contract extension that he seems unlikely to get any time soon.
Manning, meanwhile, has two years remaining on his contract, but he knows there's a chance the Giants will select his eventual successor with the second overall pick in the NFL draft this month.
At times, it's honestly hard to tell who's future with the Giants is more precarious - especially after the Giants seemed so open to the idea of trading Beckham during the NFL owners meetings two weeks ago. Also looming is an NFL Network report that Beckham - who is still rehabbing after October ankle surgery - won't take part in any football activities until he gets his new contract.
That means a holdout - which can't be ruled out, since neither Beckham nor his agent have denied that report. And Beckham hasn't even committed to staying at the Giants' offseason program beyond Day 1.
"Odell, he's got to do what is best for him in getting ready to play this upcoming season," Manning said. "I'll talk to him and give my two cents on everything, but he's got to do what he feels is best for him to get ready and play at a high level."
That said, Manning did make it clear he wants his teammates to stay in town - especially as they take the first steps towards learning Pat Shurmur's offense.
"I think it's important for the guys to be here, especially with a new offense, a new defense going in as well, a new coaching staff, just to get familiar with everything going on," he said. "Right now you can kind of come in and coaches can take it slow a little bit and you're learning. You ask questions and you can kind of all learn it together, which is good. When guys start missing these meetings and these workouts on the field and stuff, you get behind and then you have to re-teach it, you've got to slow things down again for guys to catch up."
Manning does understand that Beckham has physical limitations at the moment. That's why he had no problem with Beckham skipping his annual camp at Duke last week, where he worked with several Giants receivers, running backs, and tight ends. Manning said he spoke to Beckham about it and knew "it just wasn't going to make sense for him to kind of make that trip if you can't do all the routes and do everything."
He promised they were "on the same page" about that.
But are they on the same page about playing together for "years to come?" And are the Giants on that page, too?
Manning insisted he dismissed all the Beckham trade talk because he's learned "over the years you just can't get caught up with what's being said on TV or in the news or what people assume is happening." He said he was in contact with the organization when the rumors surfaced, but said, "I didn't ask them much about it."
He also hasn't asked them much about his own future, and what their plans are for him beyond this season.
"No. This league, it's one year at a time," Manning said. "That's kind of how it goes. I need to go out there and play well this year and that's all I'm looking forward to."