As the Giants play their season finale of the 2018 season on Sunday against the Cowboys, it is natural for the masses to think about whether it will be QB Eli Manning's final game starting for Big Blue.
This was the same question at this point last season, with the Giants' draft stock in the Top 3 and five top quarterbacks to choose from. But GM Dave Gettleman went in a different direction, selecting RB Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall as he showed his faith in the 37-year-old quarterback.
Gettleman also said he had a win-now strategy for the Giants, and that hasn't been the case. The Giants would finish 6-10 on the season if they win Sunday, and that isn't what the front office expected, which is why Manning's status as the team's franchise quarterback is up in the air again. And he knows it.
"I don't know," he said after practice Wednesday when asked if he will start next season. "Have not got into that or thought much about that, and so just worried about doing my job and finishing the season."
But, if you were to ask one of his receivers in Sterling Shepard, he would love to see No. 10 under center throwing passes to him next season.
"Yeah, I'd love to," Shepard said. "You never know what you're getting in the draft or whatever and he's proven he can play in this league. He's been in this league for a long time doing his thing, so I'd love for him to be my QB."
Shepard does have a good point. This year's draft class is a giant step down from the quarterback talent this past April, especially with Oregon QB Justin Herbert -- the top projected quarterback in the 2019 class -- electing to return for his senior season. The next man up is likely Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, but even he may return for his junior year.
So waiting out another year for those two quarterbacks potentially coming out, and leaving Manning in his 17th season as the Giants' man under center is certainly an option for the Giants this coming offseason. And that wouldn't be a bad thing in Shepard's eyes after what he's seen this season.
"He still has it in him, in my eyes," Shepard said. "Smartest guy I ever played with and he's still making all the throws. You can see last week, he made a lot of great throws, made great decisions with the ball, so I don't see why not."
There was one play in particular from last week's tough, one-point loss to the Colts that backs Shepard's claim. On 3rd and 11 in Giants territory, Manning avoided pressure from the Colts and aired out a bomb to Shepard, who broke free on a double move. He was hit in stride for a 55-yard gain that was the big highlight of Shepard's six-catch, 113-yard performance.
"He did a great job moving around in the pocket as well and was able to get the ball, hit me pretty much right in stride," Shepard said about Manning. "He can still make the throws and I don't see where a lot of people come from when they say that."
Just as it was last season, it will be interesting to see what the Giants plan for Manning next season. Shepard will be pro-Eli throughout the process.