Eli Manning is entering the final year of his contract and negotiations have been ongoing all summer with the Giants. All things considered, dialogue between the two parties has been relatively cool. But now that Philip Rivers is signed, Eli’s camp is saying he wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid player. Well, that’s interesting.
Before hearing he wanted to be the NFL’s highest-paid player, I would have thought Manning would get a contract similar to Rivers’. A four-year deal with guaranteed money in the $60 million range, and making probably a little over $20 million annually. That’s what most star starters are getting in today’s NFL. Of course, most haven’t won two Super Bowls, or two Super Bowl MVP’s. And yes Eli haters, Eli Manning won those two Super Bowls—not just his defensive line, and the Giants didn’t just get lucky—they won two championships.
Does that make Eli the league’s best quarterback? Certainly not, but it does give him a ton of leverage at the negotiating table, especially when you consider guys like Alex Smith and Matt Ryan are making $42-$45 million in guaranteed money and both their annual salaries well exceed Manning’s current yearly paycheck. Even Carson Palmer is making just a bit more than Eli this year. Sure, Eli’s not the league’s best quarterback, but he certainly has a lot more backing his resume than many of the other quarterbacks making more money than he is this season.
Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) walks off the field after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Giants 34-26. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
And he will probably use that as leverage in negotiations: he’s making less than QBs who have had little to no playoff success, and he wants to be paid for the championships he’s brought to New York. But does he deserve the monster deals that Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson were given, and could he even exceed that? And just as important: will the Giants do that?
So what can we expect? Well, the Giants probably don’t want this saga carrying on into and throughout the season, so I think they’re going to budge some. While Manning does have more rings than Rodgers and Wilson—the league’s three highest-paid players—I don’t think Eli will exceed either of those deals. But I do think the Giants could put Eli in the $21 million a year range where only three other players sit: Rodgers, Wilson, and Roethlisberger. So we’d be talking about probably a four-year pact in the $80-90 million range.
That’s a lot of coin, but when you win you’re the MVP of two Super Bowls and the face of an NFL franchise, you’ll earn your cash. And Eli’s done just that.