EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - When Eli Manning was unceremoniously benched in early-December, it looked like the end was near for his era in New York.
Now it sounds like Manning's career is picking up a second wind.
If there's one thing that was made crystal clear on Friday, as the Giants introduced Pat Shurmur as their new head coach, it's that the Giants are all-in on their 37-year-old quarterback. And that's not just for the 2018 season either.
Shurmur said he believes Manning has "years" -- years -- left in his golden right arm.
"I watched Eli throw a little bit (last) summer (at the Manning Passing Academy) and I walked away saying 'He looked really, really good,'" Shurmur said. "He looked fit and he was throwing the ball well. The ball had good velocity coming off his hand. Again, I think he's got years left. How much? I don't know. But I think he has time left and I look forward to working with him."
Shurmur's not alone in that opinion, either. New Giants GM Dave Gettleman said that after watching all of Manning's performances from his miserable 2017 season, he came to a similar conclusion. "I still saw a quarterback that knew what he was doing," Gettleman said, "that had plenty of arm talent and can win games."
And when Giants co-owner John Mara was told it sounded like Manning had more job security now than at any point in his 14-year NFL career, Mara said "I don't think that's an unfair statement."
That is a remarkable turnaround for a franchise that seemed ready to kick Manning to the curb in December when they stunned everyone -- including Manning -- by benching him in favor of Geno Smith late last season, snapping Manning's iron man streak of 210 consecutive starts. That situation was so badly bungled by now former coach Ben McAdoo and ex-GM Jerry Reese that no one was sure if Manning would want to return.
It certainly didn't look like the Giants would want him.
But the tone under Gettleman and Shurmur is completely changed. Both are convinced the Giants can win with Manning next season. And both are convinced that despite a sub-par season in which he completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 3,468 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games, he still has the ability to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
Of course, there's a reason why Shurmur didn't define just how many "years" he thinks Manning has left. His age is still a concern, and he's also only signed for two more seasons. More importantly, the Giants have the No. 2 pick in what many believe is a quarterback-rich draft. The Giants conceivably have what they hope would be a rare opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback while they still have a franchise quarterback who can play.
"With regard to who we're going to draft, I'm not ducking that question," Shurmur said. " think we've got to travel down that road of evaluation to see what happens there. But I think what's important is we have a guy here who's helped this organization win Super Bowls. He's an outstanding player, and I'm really looking forward to working with him."
And Shurmur is confident that he and Manning are going to work together well.
"I think the relationship's going to be very strong," Shurmur said. "I've watched him, competed against him, admired how he's played over the years. (I) got to spend some time with him this summer in the Manning Academy setting. I've already spoken to him on the phone. He's an outstanding football player and I can't wait to get to work with him. I've admired the way he's handled things. I sort of like the calm approach to the position and looking forward to getting to work with him."