The former Giants starting quarterback, Eli Manning, and the current Giants starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, met for lunch last week. When it came time to pick up the check, Manning obliged.
“I’m still kind of, seniority thing there,’’ Manning told The Post on Tuesday. “I’ll still buy him lunch for now — until he gets that second contract, then we’ll switch it up.’’
The second contract for an NFL player is always a milestone, both financially and in terms of job stability, and if Jones eventually gets a big, fat new deal from the Giants, something has gone very right for the franchise. There is no way to handicap which way this goes, though, with Jones coming off a sluggish second season and under contract for at least two more years, with his ultra-important third season up ahead.
The vibe Manning, 40, received from Jones, 23, in their first in-person contact since the pandemic took hold proved to be insightful.
“He’s just learning,’’ Manning said. “Part of being a young quarterback is learning how everything works, learning how the NFL works, being the starting quarterback and the New York media and everything that goes with it.
“We still have some similarities. He’s kind of reserved and quiet, and that way works, that’s not a bad demeanor to handle this. I know football is important to him, he is confident, he knows he can play better and make improvements and he wants to get better. I think he’s on that path to figure out the best way to do that. That’s the mentality you want for a young quarterback.’’
Manning and Jones shared a locker room in 2019, with Jones replacing the franchise icon two games into the season and Manning getting back on the field for two late-season starts only after Jones went down with a high ankle sprain.
With Manning retired and off the scene, Jones endured a difficult second NFL season, adjusting to a new head coach (Joe Judge), a new offensive coordinator (Jason Garrett), a new quarterbacks coach (Jerry Schuplinski), a new offensive system, no on-field work in the spring because of COVID-19 and the loss in Week 2 of his best weapon, Saquon Barkley.
“I thought the second half of the season he played much better,’’ said Manning, who is taking part in Frank’s RedHot Big Pour Challenge — he will dump 100 gallons of the sauce on Tik Tock star David Dobrik, with Frank’s RedHot donating $100,000 to Tackle Kids Cancer.
“He eliminated some of the turnovers, starting to learn how to manage the game and learn hey, when you got a bad play or the guy’s not open how to either tuck the ball or how to take a sack, knowing when it’s time to stop competing and stop trying to make something happen when nothing’s there. He did a good job of playing through injuries, learning how to play when you’re banged up.
“The Giants are on the right path, Daniel is on the right path, and they’ll continue to make strides as the whole team, a young team that continues to be around the same offense and get comfortable with the way it’s supposed to be executed.’’
Manning and Jones spoke periodically during the season, and the two actually saw each other briefly on Monday, a week after their lunch date. Manning is busy at home with his wife and four kids but stressed to Jones he will always make time for him.
“I always tell him I want to be a resource for him,’’ Manning said. “I never want him to feel obligated to see me. I kind of leave it up to him. If you want to get together, you want to call me, I’m here for you. But I’m not gonna be the guy trying to be more involved than you want me to be.’’