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With future uncertain, Eli Manning focusing on Cowboys

(AP Photo/Tom Canavan)

By TOM CANAVAN

AP Sports Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) For the second straight year, two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning is heading into an offseason with an uncertain future as New York Giants quarterback.

The Giants (5-10) are going to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. Many are wondering whether general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Dave Shurmur will be looking for a more mobile quarterback to replace the soon-to-be 38-year-old Manning.

The Giants don't have any heir apparent on the roster with rookie Kyle Lauletta and veteran Alex Tanney. That would leave the draft or free agency to find one.

Manning has not had a bad year statistically. He is 356 of 535 for 3,998 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. When his shaky line gives him time to throw (46 sacks allowed) and opens up holes for rookie Saquon Barkley, he is more than adequate. He still has the arm, he rarely gets hurt, and his understanding of the game is better than most quarterbacks.

His drawback is a $22 million salary cap hit next season, something Gettleman might look to adjust.

Manning said last year was the first time his future really came up. He is not surprised it's happened again.

However, he is not going into Sunday game against the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys (9-6) thinking this might be his last game with the Giants. He has been their starting quarterback since the second half of his rookie year in 2004.

"No, just worried about this game and finishing this season, and going out there and playing hard," Manning said of the last-game question.

Manning said he has not had talks with the front office about either reworking or extending his contract, a four-year, $84 million deal that ends after next season. He said those discussions would happen after this season.

The Giants have played better in the second half of the schedule, going 4-3. They lost last weekend on a last-minute touchdown to the Colts, and blew a 12-point lead against Philadelphia on Nov. 25. The other loss was a 17-0 decision in the rain to Tennessee.

Manning said the Giants are trying to finish the season strong and build momentum.

"I can't remember how the last game of every season worked out," said Manning, who led the Giants to Super Bowl wins after the 2007 and '11 seasons. "I think we are building something. I think when you have new players, and a new team, and a bunch of new guys coming from one year that hopefully will be here next year, I think you are building kind of the character and a winning attitude. So, I think those things can carry over."

Manning hasn't spent much time thinking about the future: "Yeah, when you get to Year 15, these things come up," he said.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard said he would love to have Manning back.

"He still has it in him, in my eyes," Shepard said. "Smartest guy I ever played with and he's still making all the throws. You can see last week, he made a lot of great throws, made great decisions with the ball, so I don't see why not."

Shurmur indicated little about Manning's future, saying No. 10 gives them the best chance to win this week.

"That's where we're at," Shurmur said. "I think when the game is over and we start talking in depth about what's going to happen moving forward, that's when you worry about it. I'm not worried about that. Again, you're talking to the coach. I'm worried about the game."

NOTES: Shepard won the 18th annual George Young Good Guy Award, as voted on by the Giants' chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America. Named for the late Giants general manager, it is given annually to recognize a Giants player for his consistent and outstanding cooperation with the writers who cover the team on a daily basis. .... WR Odell Beckham Jr. (quad) and LB Alec Ogletree (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. Beckham has missed the last three games.

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Updated December 26, 2018

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