PHOENIX -- With Eli Manning undoubtedly nearing the end of his career, the New York Giants have obviously given some thought to finding his replacement. They've even given some thought to drafting his replacement next month.
But as Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said Monday, there is no rush.
The Giants are perfectly happy with Manning as their franchise quarterback, and hope -- and believe -- he'll keep going strong through the end of his contract, which expires after the 2019 season. That said, Manning is 36 years old, and finding franchise quarterbacks isn't easy.
That's why, as they head toward the NFL draft in April, they can't completely rule out drafting their next franchise quarterback now.
"No, you can't beat age. I think it's certainly at the back of everybody's mind -- including Eli's," Tisch said at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, site of the NFL Owners Meetings. "There's no urgency. There's no panic. But I think if you're a responsible owner, responsible GM, you've got to start thinking about it."
Added fellow co-owner John Mara: "Because you never know what's going to happen. We've been very lucky. He's played how many games in a row? [211, including the playoffs] I think we have some insurance with Geno Smith being here, but I think you always have to look at the draft."
Geno Smith, a 26-year-old former second-round pick by the Jets, likely isn't the heir apparent to Manning -- just an intriguing talent the Giants recently signed to a one-year deal as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL. But adding a young quarterback to the mix is just one way the Giants have pondered their post-Manning future. They've also had representatives at the Pro Days for all the top quarterbacks. GM Jerry Reese personally went to North Carolina's Pro Day, which starred Mitchell Trubisky, perhaps the top quarterback available in this year's draft.
Does that mean they'll be drafting a quarterback in an early round this year? Maybe not. But Mara was careful not to rule anything out.
"I think we have to start thinking about it," Mara said. "I think you always have to look at drafting a quarterback where you can. Our philosophy going into the draft -- at least mine -- is just take the best player. It doesn't matter what position he is. I think if there's a chance to take a quarterback -- it doesn't have to be this year -- then you should take him."
The problem, though, is the Giants believe they have assembled a team that can contend for the Super Bowl, perhaps as early as this year. A first- or second-round pick at a position of need could fill a hole that could help them get to closer to their goal. Picking a quarterback early wouldn't do anything to help their chances to contend this year -- or in any of the next few years, either.
"I understand … but if the highest grade you have is on a quarterback, I think you have to look at the possibility of taking him," Mara said. "I don't know whether it'll be the case this year or not."
It still seems highly unlikely, even if the Giants simply draft the best available player -- in part because they rank players with their own needs in mind, and also because this crop of quarterbacks isn't considered to be very good and the top ones will likely be gone by the time the Giants are on the clock with the 23rd pick. If the best ones are gone, there's no need to force it. As Tisch said, the Giants aren't desperate for a new quarterback.
They're just keeping their eyes and mind open in case an opportunity is there.
"It's evolutionary," Tisch said. "We're not coming at this from any place of desperation or urgent need. Jerry's aware of it. John and I are aware of it. It's just part of the game - literally and metaphorically."