When it comes to a long-term contract that expires after the coming season, Giants quarterback Eli Manning doesn’t seem to care very much. Then again, he’s always that way.
In this specific case, Eli’s default demeanor serves him well. He’s not desperate to do a deal, which could help him get a better deal than if he were.
He’s possibly not desperate because he knows it’s just a matter of time before the deal is done. Because that’s apparently what his agent is telling him.
“The quarterbacks always get done,” Tom Condon said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “And the Giants are not a skittish team. So it’s not one of those things where they get nervous or they jump around or anything like that. You know you’re going to go in and it’s going to get done. I’m sure at the appropriate time it’ll happen.”
The Giants have a little extra leverage if they make an offer before the start of the regular season, since that would shift the injury risk away from Eli and back to the team. If the Giants wait until the 2015 campaign ends, and if Eli emerges unscathed, the pendulum swings to Peyton’s kid brother.
Then the question will become where Eli fits on the spectrum that has Peyton and his take-every-dollar tendency (with which I have no problem) at one end and Colin Kaepernick and his grossly-team-friendly deal at the other. At that point, the question won’t be about whether Eli has led the Giants back to the postseason for only the second time since 2008 or whether he has pulled another fourth-quarter rabbit from his hat (or some other orifice) to win a Super Bowl. At that point, the Giants would be facing the same three-door range of options that the Seahawks would be encountering with Russell Wilson, and that the Ravens faced two years ago with Joe Flacco.
“It’s an extraordinarily hard position to fill,” Condon said. “You actually have some leverage with the quarterbacks. The only problem is there’s a salary cap.”
But the salary cap has gone up by $10 million in each of the last two years, which drives up the franchise tag number. Which drives up the starting point for talks on a long-term deal. Which makes more money available for a franchise quarterback.
For Eli, then, the challenge isn’t to make it to the playoffs or to become the Super Bowl MVP but to stay healthy.
“The interesting part about it is, since 1993, the inception of free agency, has there ever been an elite quarterback hit the open market?” Condon said. “Peyton, but he had four neck surgeries and no idea if he would ever be well enough to play. Drew Brees, when he went to New Orleans, he had 15 studs in his shoulder, in his throwing arm.”
Like Russell Wilson, Eli wouldn’t hit the open market, if he’s healthy. If Eli were to leave, it would come with significant compensation to the Giants — and a gigantic new deal from a new team for Eli. But even the two first-round picks that come from a player changing teams via the non-exclusive franchise tag doesn’t guarantee that a franchise quarterback’s former team will emerge with a new franchise quarterback.
And it’s that fear of a team not having a franchise quarterback has gotten a lot of franchise and close-to-franchise quarterbacks paid a lot of money in the past two decades. That same fear will get plenty more quarterbacks paid — either by their current team or by someone else.