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Eli Manning Favored to Retire Before 2004 Draft Class QBs Rivers and Roethlisberger

Eli Manning looking at a playsheet
Eli Manning has been benched in favor of rookie Daniel Jones and may be suiting up for his final NFL games ever in the next six weeks. Photo by AJ Guel (Flickr) CC License.
  • Eli Manning is a -200 favorite to be the first of the top-three quarterbacks from the 2004 NFL Draft class to retire
  • Philip Rivers sits at +200 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger at +300
  • In their last 16 starts, Big Ben has unquestionably been the best passer of the three

The historic quarterback class of the 2004 NFL Draft has fallen on hard times, and for Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Phillip Rivers, the end of the road is in sight. Of the three, the benched Manning is the favorite to retire first at -200. The turnover-prone Rivers is second at +200, and the injury-prone Roethlisberger is last at +300.

Each of them has dealt with a unique struggle this season, but each has struggled nonetheless.

Odds on Which Quarterback Will Retire First

Quarterback Odds
Eli Manning -200
Phillip Rivers +200
Ben Roethlisberger +300

*Odds taken November 20th

Rivers Is Only One Currently Playing

Big Ben has been injured this season, and Eli Manning is on the bench behind New York’s first-round pick, Daniel Jones. Phillip Rivers is only one that is playing on a weekly basis right now, but that hasn’t necessarily been positive.

On Monday Night Football against the Chiefs, Rivers threw 4 interceptions, including a key pick when the Chargers had a chance to tie the game on their final possession. He’d thrown 3 interceptions the week before, making it a total of 7 picks in the last two weeks.

Manning is the favorite to retire first partially due to the fact that he has already been moved on from. Rivers could be close to sharing that status. At 4-7, with a 37-year old quarterback, the question is really starting to be asked about the future of the position in Los Angeles. His numbers haven’t been pretty lately, and with a roster that features some key young stars, perhaps the Chargers could be close to going in a new direction.

Should Rivers be on the market, it doesn’t immediately signal the end of the road. At similar, late stages of their careers, Joe Flacco got a shot in Denver, Jay Cutler got a shot in Miami, and Kurt Warner got a shot in Arizona. Those are all unique situations, and they all played out in unique ways, but the theme is the same. There will always be a team or a general manager that is willing to take a shot on a veteran quarterback. It doesn’t always work out, but it would keep Rivers from being the first of the the group from 2004 to retire.

Passing Stats in Last 16 Starts

Player Completion Percentage Yards Per Game TD/INT
Eli Manning 60.8% 270.6 22/12
Phillip Rivers 63.2% 272 21/21
Ben Roethlisberger 66.8% 293.3 30/14

Who’s Been the Best?

Far and away, of these three passers, it has been Big Ben that has had the strongest recent showing. In his last 16 starts, he’s been significantly better than Rivers and Manning in completion percentage, yards, and touchdown-to-interception ratio. Unfortunately for Roethlisberger, his most recent start was in Week 2. He’s played better than the other two, but both have been much healthier.

It’s been additionally difficult for Big Ben that, after the initial adjustment to losing him, the Steelers are actually playing well. They’re 5-2 in their last 7 games, and one of those losses was an overtime defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.

Who’s the Best Bet to Retire First?

For every positive one can bring up in favor of each quarterback, there is also a negative to counter with. Rivers has been healthy, but he’s thrown far too many interceptions lately. Roethlisberger is currently the best player of the three, but injuries keeping him out all year don’t point to him playing much longer.

However, in this case, chalk is the way to go. Roethlisberger, after having his season cut short, is likely to come back for another run in 2020.

Even if the Chargers do move on from Rivers, history has shown that veterans who still have some spark left will be able to find on team that wants to give them a shot. Rivers still has a live arm, and it’s realistic to see him back, somewhere in the league, next year.

However, Manning is the most likely to hang it up, and he leads the odds for good reason. His arm strength has fallen off drastically, and in a sport with declining offensive line play and an emphasis on quarterback mobility, it’s tough to see a fit for Eli.

The end wasn’t pretty, and his Hall of Fame case is a debatable one, but Manning can still retire as a hero in New York who, twice, took down the Patriots on the world’s biggest stage.

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