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Matt Mosley on Eli Manning:

From Matt Mosley of ESPN.COM

Giants general manager Jerry Reese has a simple solution for replacing the hole that Plaxico Burress left in the offense. He thinks it’s time for quarterback Eli Manning to take on more responsibility and lead this organization to another Super Bowl.

In 2007, Manning caught lightning in a bottle for a little more than a month and helped lead the Giants to a world title. But with the loss of his combustible safety blanket, Burress, and a supporting cast comprised of talented but raw wide receivers, the Giants believe Manning can elevate his teammates to another level.

The only problem with that approach from a management standpoint is that you’re increasing your quarterback’s bargaining power. But I don’t think the Giants are concerned about that side of the equation. And that’s why Manning is poised to become the highest-paid player in league history in the next month or so.

Unless the Giants are thinking of putting the franchise tag on Manning after the ’09 season — they’re not — it’s time for Reese to sit down with the agent to the star quarterbacks, Tom Condon, and get something done. So what’s the going rate for a 28-year-old franchise quarterback who already has a Lombardi trophy? We know that at least one man thought defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, also 28, was worth $41 million in guaranteed money.

Haynesworth is, without argument, the best defensive tackle in the game. As a quarterback, Manning probably ranks behind Tom Brady, his older brother Peyton, Drew Brees and perhaps Ben Roethlisberger, although I could argue otherwise. And don’t bring up Philip Rivers. He’s put up huge numbers (but no world titles) against inferior competition in the AFC West.

With that in mind, and realizing that quarterback is the most valuable position on the field, I think Manning has a case for becoming our first $50 million (guaranteed) quarterback. The rest of the contract numbers won’t matter that much. We’re talking about CIF (cash in fist), and I think the $50 million figure is what Team Manning will be looking for.

A respected member of the Giants organization not named Jerry Reese told me Thursday morning, “There’s no way this thing becomes contentious. Something will probably get done before the season, and everyone will move on.”

If the Giants truly wanted to play hardball, they could point to the possibility of an uncapped season in 2010. If a collective bargaining agreement is not reached before the start of free agency next February, Manning wouldn’t become an unrestricted free agent. But at this point, both sides appear to be operating as if a new CBA will be in place. The last thing the Giants want is to have Manning playing with the contract cloud hanging over his head. And that’s why I think they’ll make him the richest quarterback in the history of the game sometime next month.

The Cowboys let Tony Romo enter the last year of his contract in 2007, but that was a completely different situation. Romo hadn’t played a full season in ’06 — and he didn’t have any skins on the wall like Manning.

In 2004, Manning’s big brother signed a seven-year, $98 million contract extension with the Colts that seemed off the charts at the time. But according to personnel types around the league, Eli’s contract could end up somewhere in the seven-year, $120 million range, which would make him a league-high $17 million per year player. Manning likes to “aw shucks” his way through life, but his reps at Creative Artists Agency aren’t into hometown discounts.

In talking to Giants officials, Manning’s struggles last December and January did nothing to diminish his value with the franchise. With Brandon Jacobs banged up and Burress sidelined, the organization knows Manning was in a tough situation.

It’s obviously not the ideal time to do a mega-contract, what with the economy in the tank and trying to finance a $1.6 billion (and rising) new stadium. There were reports last January the Giants might not have $40 million in guaranteed money available for Manning. But something tells me the Mara and Tisch families socked away a little cash for their franchise quarterback.

Becoming a $100 million quarterback doesn’t mean much anymore. Even Michael Vick once broke that barrier. What matters, obviously, is the guaranteed portion of the contract. And I think Manning could sneak up on that $50 million barrier we discussed earlier.

“[Eli’s] not a veteran anymore, he’s a Pro Bowler — we’ll put some of this on his back,” said Reese earlier this offseason. “We’re going to put more of the onus on him.”

And that’s why Manning’s about to become the wealthiest quarterback in the game.

Eli Manning is about to become an even wealthier man and in my opinion he has earned it.  He has delivered a championship to New York and continues to deal with the pressures of playing in one of the craziest cities in the world.

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One Response to “Matt Mosley on Eli Manning:”

  1. WIG says:

    Eli is not worth 10m,mill a season, get real. his avg QB rating is around 75. He has yet to win a playoff game at home.

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