NFL

NFL: Should the Chicago Bears Sign Eli Manning in 2020?

Eli Manning has had a memorable 15-year career, which includes two Super Bowl wins over Tom Brady and the Patriots. But at 38 years old, the Giants have benched the four-time Pro Bowl selection as they look to the future with first-round draft pick Daniel Jones. While Manning started some games late in the season with Jones dealing with a sprained ankle, his time with the Giants is likely to end following this season, the final year of his contract. So what’s next for Manning? Will he retire? Or try to stick around the league and sign with another team? There are some teams in the league — including the Chicago Bears — who could use a veteran quarterback like Manning. Will they sign him?

Mitch Trubisky’s struggles with the Bears

The Bears used the second overall pick on Mitchell Trubisky in the 2017 draft, and he became their starter about a month into that season. Now with almost three full seasons under his belt as a starting quarterback, Trubisky hasn’t shown he necessarily has the talent to be a successful quarterback in the league. 

Entering Week 16 in 2019, Trubisky started 39 regular-season NFL games, and he has thrown for 8,190 yards with 48 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. That equates to an average of fewer than 1.25 touchdowns per game, which isn’t going to cut it over the long run in the modern, pass-happy NFL. 

The Bears made the playoffs last year behind the best defense in the league, and as long as Trubisky is the starter, the team’s success will be largely reliant on how the defense performs.

Should the Bears sign Eli Manning?

Eli Manning could leave the Giants after the 2019 season; could he suit up for the Chicago Bears in 2020?
Eli Manning shakes hands with Bears’ linebacker Josh Woods after a 2019 preseason game. | Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The question the Bears face is whether Trubisky is their franchise quarterback and they should continue to start him, or do they try to go in a different direction? If they choose the latter, the Bears’ best option would likely be to sign a veteran quarterback to take over for Trubisky. 

Among the veterans who are likely to be available this offseason, including Tom Brady, Manning may be among the better options. WR Anthony Miller has come on strong for the Bears down the stretch of this season, so maybe having a veteran like Manning throwing him the ball could allow him to improve further, giving the Bears offense a much-needed boost. 

Plus, having a strong defense as the Bears do, which has regressed a bit this season, led by Khalil Mack gives Manning some room for error because the team can keep opponents from scoring too much.

If not the Bears, what other teams could sign Eli Manning?

The Bears aren’t the only team that  could use Manning next season. Other teams may also be in search of a veteran quarterback. Let’s explore some possibilities about Manning’s future.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck left the Colts in a tough spot when the former No. 1 draft pick announced his retirement just weeks before the regular season started. The Colts, in a bind, went with Jacoby Brissett — who was slated to be Luck’s backup — as their starter. 

Brissett is signed through next season, but he has been inconsistent this season, and now that the Colts will have a full offseason to think about what to do in the post-Luck era. They may decide to sign a veteran to either serve as the starter next season or to help mentor 27-year-old Brissett as they continue to evaluate him as a potential franchise quarterback. Manning could serve either role if the Colts choose to sign him. And the Colts have a track record of success having a Manning on the roster.

Los Angeles Chargers

Could Manning’s career come full circle as he signs with the Chargers? The then-San Diego Chargers drafted Manning with the top pick in the 2004 draft, but they traded him to the Giants in exchange for their first-round pick, Philip Rivers, because Manning refused to sign in San Diego. 

Rivers has enjoyed a long run with the Chargers since that draft-day trade, but the 38-year-old is also in the final year of his contract. There is a lot of speculation that he will move on in 2020. Tyrod Taylor is currently the Chargers’ backup, so they may be interested in signing a veteran like Manning to be a bridge to a young quarterback, who they will likely be taking in the 2020 draft if they feel they need to move on from Rivers.