I’ll start with the easy one: quarterback.
Eli Manning maybe had a sub-par year according to his standards, but he still played well enough to earn a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl roster, albeit as a replacement.
The great thing about Manning is that he’s not content unless he’s hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in early February.
No matter who he’s throwing to on the outside, Manning makes his targets better football players. And if all things go according to plan, Manning will have Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz catching passes for a long time (more to come on that when I analyze the receiving core later this week).
Despite his success in his nine years in the league, there’s always room for improvement. One thing that drives me crazy about Manning is his sometimes errant decision-making process.
Rather than throw the ball away or take a sack, Manning will try to force a throw or look like Mark Sanchez in trying to shovel a pass to a running back. These decisions often result in turnovers.
But certainly, his great throws and big-play making ability outweigh any of these rare mistakes. When looking back at the season, Manning did everything in his power to put the Giants in a position to win most weeks.
So while Manning’s place on the Giants is secure, teams always need some form of insurance at the quarterback position.
The Giants signed Curtis Painter to a futures deal this offseason. Painter was Peyton Manning’s backup for two seasons and started eight games in 2011 for the Colts while Peyton was sidelined with a neck injury.
The most likely scenario for the Giants’ backup quarterback position is that the team will re-sign David Carr, who has been Eli’s backup four of the past five seasons.
He rarely sees game action, but here’s a guy who has been a starter in the league for a number of years, so if (God forbid!) anything was to happen to Eli, Carr could step in and be somewhat effective.
Expect the Giants to bring back Carr on a one-year deal, since there likely is no team willing to bring in Carr to compete for its starting quarterback job.
In a blog post I wrote earlier this offseason, the Giants may also look into using a later-round draft pick on a quarterback and grooming him under Eli.
Eli is 32 years old and still has plenty left in the tank, but similarly to what the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers, the Giants could mold a quarterback who is immediately ready to take over for Eli rather than using a first-round draft pick on a quarterback the year Eli retires.
This scenario may not exactly play out this offseason, but it will likely be discussed in the near future.
So with the Giants having many roster needs, quarterback definitely looks solid. Even if Painter winds up being the primary backup (highly unlikely), this is still Eli’s team.
Tomorrow, I will look at the running backs core, which recently took a hit with Ahmad Bradshaw’s release.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.