Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning of the New York Giants wants Aaron Rodgers money. Is he worth it?
By Bryan Pol
The New York Giants certainly made the right move in dealing their first round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft to obtain Ole Miss star Eli Manning from the San Diego Chargers. While Philip Rivers, the pick the Chargers made, has been a warrior for San Diego, and recently signed a massive contract extension of his own, valued at four years, $83.25 million, and $65 million guaranteed, the most of any player currently under contract in the league, he has yet to lead his franchise to a Super Bowl.
Eli has lead his to two, winning a Super Bowl MVP in both title games, a 17-13 come-from-behind victory against the highly favored, undefeated New England Patriots in 2007, and a 21-17 win against the same Tom Brady-lead Pats four years later.
In both postseason runs, Eli excelled well enough to be named FiveThirtyEight’s “most clutch postseason quarterback of all-time,” taking out the likes of Tony Romo, Brett Favre, Tom Brady (twice), Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers en route to his two Super Bowl titles, putting up numbers that would make Phil Simms blush.
With Russell Wilson signing a gargantuan deal, too, and Andrew Luck on the verge of mimicking the feat, Eli, heading into the last year of his contract, is looking for his pay day.
Eli, at 34, is much older than Wilson and Luck, and is a year older than Rivers, but that does not stop Manning from desiring to be the NFL’s highest-paid player.
That is right: player, not quarterback.
Reportedly, Eli Manning wants to be paid more than 2014 league MVP Aaron Rodgers, unquestionably the NFL’s best player at the position.
.@RapSheet on Eli: “He wants to be paid higher than any QB in the game, wants to be game’s highest-paid player, more than Aaron Rodgers.”
— NFL Media PR (@InsideNFLMedia) August 17, 2015
Under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, and a makeshift, leaky offensive line, Eli was statistically a top-10 quarterback in the league despite a season-ending injury to his security blanket in slot receiver Victor Cruz.
Many attribute Eli’s numbers to the rise of superstar receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., but the young wideout, talented as he might be, still needs a signal caller to get him the ball, and Eli was the man for the job and then some. In 2014, Eli completed passes at a 63.1% rate, the best mark of his career, and threw for 4,410 yards (the second-highest yardage of his career), 30 touchdowns (the second-highest total of his tenure in New York), and 14 interceptions (his fewest since 2009, a far cry from the 27 he threw in 2013). His 92.1 quarterback rating was also the second-highest of his career.
While his output did not amount to a postseason appearance–the Giants finished at 6-10, a poor enough mark to land help on the offensive line in the form of Miami tackle Ereck Flowers with the number nine pick, three spots ahead of where they picked Beckham in 2014–the poor season was by no means a fault of Eli’s. In a season when so many scoffed at Eli’s proclamation that he was in Tom Brady’s class, all Manning did was lead Big Blue to an NFC East division title and a Super Bowl victory.
In a season when he desires money befitting of the league’s best players, who is to say Eli cannot literally put his money where his mouth is the way he did in 2011? Reports suggest Eli and the Giants are “far off” in their current contract negotiations, but Manning, ever the composed and reserved individual, is alright with that. His sights are on leading New York back to the postseason in 2015, and he has the pieces on offense to do it.
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