Kerry Collins didn't mince words. He knows the implications of the Giants' trade for quarterback Eli Manning yesterday.
"Well," Collins said, "it pretty much ensures that my future here with the Giants will be over, whether it's before or after this year."
Collins, the starting quarterback, has one year remaining on his contract. Whether the Giants can afford to pay Manning, who will be compensated as the No. 1 overall pick, and keep Collins, who will count $8.95 million against the $80.6 million salary cap, is in question. Collins said he would like to finish his contract with the Giants.
"I want to finish my career here the right way, and after that, I'll move on," he said during a midafternoon conference call yesterday. "My feelings are clear that I want to be here, and I want to finish it right."
Coach Tom Coughlin spoke to Collins yesterday to let him know "we consider him an outstanding football player."
Coughlin left open the possibility that Collins could remain if his cap number were lowered and said having Collins and Manning on the roster "would make us better."
Several Giants last week voiced their support of Collins and said they wanted to continue playing with him. Coughlin found those sentiments to be "very natural."
Said general manager Ernie Accorsi: "That's commendable that they would support their teammate. Players win favor among their teammates by doing it on the field. That's, I think, what's going to happen."
One Giant said yesterday that he felt "bad for Kerry" and that he did not believe the situation was "fair to Kerry."
"I don't think we need a quarterback," said the player, who did not want to be named. "Secondly, I think we gave up a lot (in the trade). But, at the same time, I can see what they're thinking. It's not every day a franchise quarterback comes around."
Collins, 31, said that if the Giants are planning to cut him, he would prefer that it be "sooner rather than later, so I could explore different options." The Giants probably would agree, given that Collins' release would free $7 million in cap space.
Accorsi said it would be "ideal to keep (Collins), and I hope that we could do that."
Accorsi declined to speculate on whether the Giants would extend Collins' contract to lessen the cap hit or try to trade him.
Collins, who said he believes the Giants can win with Manning as their quarterback this season, went out of his way to be gracious. He said he understood the Giants' determination to acquire Manning because "they see Eli as a great talent, a guy who can carry the Giants for a lot of years."
Collins vowed to be a positive influence on Manning, specifically saying he would not be "bitter."
"I'm not going to hold it against Eli or the Giants," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can for this team to help them win, because I've had a great experience here and I think I owe that to them."