With training camp less than two weeks away, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning still doesn’t have a new contract. But according to recent reports, the team believes a deal could be struck before camp begins.
The New York Post quoted a team source as saying “there has been a conversation” with Manning and his agent Tom Condon, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Giants are “confident in doing a deal in due time.” Training camp starts July 31.
New York fans can be assured that Manning figures to be with the team for the rest of his career, but for those who might be restless it’s important to keep in mind that the Giants have to carefully craft the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s deal in order to take care of several other important players on the roster.
Reports have surfaced about talks throughout the offseason, but there’s been little movement likely due to the fact that Manning will command an average salary of $20 million for however long the contract will last. The 34-year-old is scheduled to make $17 million this season, and register a $19.75 million salary cap hit, and he’s likely seeking the final big contract of his career. Manning will actually be the second highest paid quarterback in the league this season, behind only New Orleans' Drew Brees.
Manning’s new contract will presumably fall somewhere between what the Pittsburgh Steelers gave to Ben Roethlisberger and the Green Bay Packers to Aaron Rodgers. Back in March, Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger, who along with San Diego’s Phillip Rivers was part of Manning’s 2004 draft class, agreed to a five-year, $99 million deal with $60.75 million guaranteed and the final total could jump to as much as $108 million. On average Roethlisberger will be paid $21.85 million in salary.
Rodgers received a five-year, $110 million with $54 million guaranteed, and his average salary works out to $22 million, the highest among quarterbacks in the league.
Clearly the market favors quarterbacks, by far the toughest position to fill in the NFL, but Manning understands as well as the Giants that a significant raise hinders the team’s chances of keeping several soon-to-be free agents.
Though they pulled a reported $60 million offer from the table, the Giants still have to work out a long-term contract with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul even after a fireworks accident resulted in the loss of his right index finger. Otherwise the pass rusher could be an unrestricted free agent next year.
Other potential free agents in 2016 include cornerback Prince Amukamara, last season’s leading tackler and inside linebacker Jameel McClain, defensive end Robert Ayers, and wide receiver Rueben Randle. But the Giants are also looking down the line to 2017, when left tackle Justin Pugh and right tackle Marshall Newhouse are both up for new deals.
The Giants presently have a little over $4.8 million in salary cap space, according to Spotrac.com, and with no new Manning or Pierre-Paul deals on the books just yet, they’ll have $49.3 million in space in 2016. But should Manning command half or more, New York has little room to work out new deals for the rest of its potential free agents.
Manning, Condon, and the Giants haven’t waged any sort of negotiations in the media, opting instead to keep the talks private and civil. It’s a testament to Manning’s demeanor and attitude since he took over the job in 2004. He’s started 167 consecutive games, and has never dealt with a major injury in his 12-year career while making three Pro Bowl appearances and posting a perfect 2-0 record in the Super Bowl.
Manning is also coming off one of his best seasons and could be poised for even more this year. He completed a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions, significantly cutting back on his 27 picks in 2013. With Victor Cruz returning from a major injury, and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. now one of the top pass catchers in the game, Manning’s numbers could grow exponentially this season as the Giants fight for a return to the postseason.