With speculation that Monday could be Eli Manning’s final start for the Giants, general manager Dave Gettleman and his top advisors spent Saturday doing homework for their future.
Gettleman, Giants vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams and scout Jeremy Breit stopped off in Utah on their way to San Francisco to evaluate quarterback Justin Herbert. The third-year starter for the University of Oregon led the Ducks against the Utes.
Herbert is projected as the top quarterback and possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft — if he enters. Reports last month stated Herbert is leaning toward staying in school but he dismissed the story as something he is not thinking about until after his junior season.
Gettleman and the Giants did their due diligence on the four quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 picks of the 2018 draft — Baker Mayfield (Browns), Sam Darnold (Jets) and Josh Allen (Bills) and Josh Rosen (Cardinals) — but ultimately decided to go with running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall after Mayfield was drafted.
Most of the other top players on the 2019 draft board are defensive linemen.
The Giants (1-7) and Raiders (1-7) are the front-runners for the top pick in the draft. The Raiders have 27-year-old three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr but they could move on as part of their massive rebuild.
Manning, 37, is in his 15th year as the Giants starter, but he has lost 20 of his last 24 regular-season starts and is only two games over .500 (112-110) in his career. He has eight touchdown passes and six interceptions, but most of his damage has come in garbage time because of a reluctance to throw the ball downfield when high-percentage completions are available.
Manning is under contract in 2019 but the Giants can save $17 million on his $23 million salary cap hit if he is released.
The Giants also have No. 2 quarterback Alex Tanney, a 30-year-old journeyman with one game played in his career, and rookie Kyle Lauletta on the roster. Lauletta is a fourth-round pick whose debut might have been delayed by last week’s arrest during a traffic stop.
Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, the former Jets general manager, also was on hand. The Cowboys, Seahawks, Packers and Cardinals also had scouts at the Oregon-Utah game, according to KEZI Sports.
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