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Giants head coach Pat Shurmur: 'I want Eli back'

INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants will eventually have to address the quarterback position when considering Eli Manning is two years shy of turning 40.

What the Giants do about Manning in the future is a question that will certainly linger, especially given this year's draft could produce an eventual replacement.

But at least for now, head coach Pat Shurmur made it clear who he considers his starting signal-caller.

"I think Eli can help us win games," Shurmur said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "And he proved when we started -- the players around him started playing better -- that he can play at a high level and help us win games. At this point, I want Eli back. He's back and ready to go."

"We looked at Eli and we feel good about it," Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told reporters. "If you tell a lie long enough, you believe it. The narrative [around Manning] has been so negative, when you take that position, you have trouble getting off that spot. The narrative has been negative and I don't think it's fair."

While Shurmur and Gettleman appear confident that Manning is their guy in 2019, it makes sense to ponder Manning's future given his advancing age and a dip in production last season.

Manning is set to enter his 16th professional season with one year remaining on his deal, which pays a base salary of $11.5 million in 2019. The long-time Giants quarterback didn't find much success in 2018 under Shurmur, who was in his first season as head coach, and was sacked a career-high 47 times behind a struggling offensive line.

Manning finished the season with 4,299 yards passing and 21 touchdowns against 11 interceptions while leading the Giants to a 5-11 record, marking the second straight season New York finished with a losing record.

Whether the Giants ultimately decide to draft Manning's replacement remains to be seen, but the 2019 draft class has options, including the likes of Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray or Drew Lock, among others.

Shurmur and his coaching staff will get a good look at all the quarterback prospects in the coming week, of course. And if the Giants decide to get Manning's eventual replacement sooner than later, Shurmur believes the young player will be in a good position to sit and learn behind a two-time Super Bowl champion.

"That's going to be a great thing if that happens," Shurmur said. "I've spoken frequently about what I think of Eli and how he handles himself, how he prepares, and, really, everything he does behind the scenes.

"And I think a young player would greatly benefit from that. We all want to learn from somebody that's done it, players, coaches. He's done it at a very high level, and so being in a room with him, I think, would only help that player."

Here are other highlights from Shurmur's news conference:

Shurmur said he has spoken to safety Landon Collins, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the league's new calendar year begins on March 13. Shurmur declined to go into specifics on any conversations or where Collins would be in 2019, but said he "wanted all our players back."

Shurmur said he communicates frequently with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and called their relationship, "good, it's solid."

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