By: Brady Gardner
The New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars have had two of the most disappointing seasons of any team in the NFL, for very different reasons.
Coming into the 2018 campaign, the Giants were expecting to bounce back from last year’s 3-13 embarrassment, adding the explosive Saquon Barkley to an offense that already featured a superstar wideout in Odell Beckham Jr. and a two-time Super Bowl MVP in Eli Manning. 900 miles south, the Jaguars were looking to build on an impressive run to last season’s AFC Championship, with much of that team’s core still intact.
Despite their preseason optimism, both teams currently sit at 3-8 through 11 weeks, with 2018 playoff ambitions likely out of the question. With the focus moving towards 2019, a blockbuster deal with benefits both sides could reenergize both of these organizations going into next season. So, put on your imagination hats with me, and let’s try to envision a swap of quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Eli Manning.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to ask whether or not these teams will be willing to part with their current quarterbacks. By the look of things, the clear answer to this question is yes. This week, the Jaguars are starting second-string quarterback Cody Kessler in favor of Bortles, and this change is more about the teams’ dissatisfaction with Bortles than it is about confidence in his backup. Kessler isn’t projecting to be an NFL superstar by any means, and Bortles’ play has plummeted since the team’s 3-1 start. The Jaguars appear to have lost all trust in Bortles, and his time in Jacksonville may be nearing an end.
As for the Giants, Eli Manning’s impressive resume could only make up for his dipping play for so long. The 37-year old appears to have lost the magical touch possessed in his younger years, now struggling to find and hit open receivers on a consistent basis. This season, Manning’s face has made more appearances in internet memes than highlight reels, transforming the former champion into a joke among national fans and a headache for Giants diehards. Half-hearted attempts have been made to find a replacement within the organization, but now more than ever, the Giants seem desperate for a quarterback change.
Both quarterbacks seem to be on the outs with their current organizations, so that opens a gap for a proven starting QB on each team. In my opinion, the logical conclusion for both sides seems to be a straight swap of Blake Bortles and Eli Manning. Let me explain.
Bortles going to the Giants would make sense because the Giants need a young, mobile quarterback. At 26 years old with mobility as one of his strongest assets, Bortles fits this bill. With upwards of a decade left in his NFL career, Bortles could grow with Beckham Jr. (26) and the 21-year old Barkley, developing a trio that could propel the Giants to the level of the most dangerous offenses in the league. Bortles has shown flashes of being an effective NFL quarterback, demonstrated throughout last season’s deep postseason run by competing with proven stars in Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. With a change of scenery and a fresh start, Blake Bortles could become the quarterback that the Giants are looking for.
On the other side, Eli Manning relocating to the Jaguars could be just the combination to help both the quarterback and the team recover from humiliation in 2018. With an elite running back in Leonard Fournette and two over-qualified complementary backs in Carlos Hyde and TJ Yeldon, the Jaguars are a very run-heavy team. This could play right into the hands of the aging Manning, enabling him to facilitate an offense that doesn’t revolve around him. Additionally, Tom Coughlin has moved into an executive role in Jacksonville since his days leading Manning and the Giants to two championships, so reuniting with his former head coach could be just the partnership to get the most out of Manning as he nears retirement.
As is the case with most trade speculation, chances are this deal won’t happen. But as crazy as it may sound, this trade has benefits for both teams, and for both quarterbacks.
The Jaguars and Giants have fallen to the bottom of the NFL, with nowhere to go but up. It’s time to make something happen, and this trade could make all the difference.