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Manning Set for Pay Day

From NY Daily News:

“The Super Bowl championship the  Giants won last year was priceless. The man who led them to it is not.

The Giants will have to pay a hefty price to keep last year’s Super Bowl MVP. Eli Manning‘s contract is due to expire after next season, and sometime in the next year – probably the next few months – the Giants will take the first steps toward making him the next member of the $100 million quarterback club.

Manning might even end up being the highest-paid member, as several NFL sources said his next deal could be worth a league-high $15 million per season. That would be an average of $1 million more than his brother Peyton is making on the seven-year, $98 million deal he signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2004.

Based on interviews with several agents and personnel people, Eli Manning appears to be in line for a seven- or eight-year contract worth $110 million-$120 million with $40 million in guarantees.

That would make the 28-year-old the eighth quarterback to top the $100 million barrier, and would put him near the top with Philadelphia‘s Donovan McNabb (12 years, $115million), Cincinnati‘s Carson Palmer (nine years, $118.75 million), and former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick (10 years, $130 million).

“We know,” said one team source. “But that’s money we’re going to be happy to pay.”

The Giants have been bracing for that mega-deal since last February when Manning led them on their surprising Super Bowl run. And nothing that happened this season has caused the Giants to waver on paying that price. Despite a season-ending slump and a terrible performance (15-for-29, 169 yards, two interceptions) in a 23-11 loss to the Eagles in the divisional playoffs on Sunday, the Giants still appear to have as much confidence in their Pro Bowl quarterback as they did before.

“You would like to be as good as you possibly can be all the time and Eli feels the exact same way,” Tom Coughlin said the day after the end of the Giants’ season. “Am I concerned? Sure. You’d like to have it be a lights-out day every time we play. But we’ll take care of that. It will get better and he’ll get better.”

GM Jerry Reese declined to comment on any plans for extending Manning’s contract, and neither Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, nor Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch returned calls Tuesday. It is believed there have been preliminary talks, but an agreement isn’t imminent. Said one NFL source: “With deals like this, it could be done in days or it could take months.”

This likely will be a complex deal, much like the original, seven-year deal Manning signed as a rookie in 2004 that was worth $45 million to $54 million. That deal contained dozens of incentives that added bonuses and changed the values of his salaries. And it had a unique, performance-based trigger that allowed Manning to opt out of the 2008-2010 years of the deal, although the Giants had the option of buying back the 2008-09 seasons, which they did, for $5 million.

This deal figures to be similar since rarely are players expected to earn all of the money in a contract this size. For example, in 2001, the New England Patriots gaveDrew Bledsoe a 10-year, $103 million contract, but because of options, the actual value was more like four years and $30 million. Often these deals are stretched out and inflated to help with salary-cap issues.

There are potential minefields, too, such as the uncertain future of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. A new CBA could change the financial landscape of the league. And if a new deal isn’t reached in time, teams could be dealing with an “uncapped year” in 2010.

Then there’s the sinking economy. As the Daily News reported in November, the Giants are fighting bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. for $301.8 million the team says it is owed as part of a financing deal for its new $1.6 billion stadium. Because of that and spiraling debt from the stadium project, one NFL source questioned whether the Giants had available cash to guarantee $40 million to Manning. However, one high-ranking team official insisted that neither the stadium nor the economy will prevent the Manning deal from eventually getting done.”


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