Eli Manning is a smart guy, and semantics are everything, right? But let’s assume for a moment that Manning was being earnest when he said, per New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano, that the reports of Manning wanting to be the NFL’s highest-paid player are bunk.
Vacchiano tweeted Manning’s quote when asked:
“No. That’s never come out of my mouth. I’ve never said it to my agent,” he said.
Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, is widely regarded as one of the best in the business and is as savvy a negotiator as he is a marketer. So even if Manning didn’t say those words to Condon, the agent certainly has the power invested in him to make such a request to the New York Giants.
Except that Manning denies this part, too.
But again, it’s all in the way it’s worded. Condon could have made his initial ask in the neighborhood of five years, $115 million, with more than $65 million guaranteed — we’re just spitballing here — and that would make him, on average and by guaranteed dollars, top dog. He didn’t have to say the literal words “highest-paid player” in his negotiations with GM Jerry Reese and the Giants.
We’re not accusing him or Condon of being greedy or deceiving (and Manning even noted that father Archie called to express his disapproval of the reports), as it’s all part of the back and forth. Russell Wilson did far more talking on his contract situation before landing an extension (and certainly was vague on it) than Eli has on his potential deal. We also wouldn’t fault either man if they hadasked for such money.
Gotta strike when the market is hot.
And the NFL is always about the next deal. Just as the Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas deals shaped the receiver market, and as the new contracts of Wilson and Philip Rivers have pushed the quarterback money even more north, a player landing the best contract does not mean he’s therefore the best player in the league, at his position or even on his team.
This debate is fairly meaningless, anyway. Andrew Luck, whenever his second NFL contract is signed, is going to blow away the dollars of all these guys — Manning, Wilson, Rivers and, yes, likely Aaron Rodgers, too. Rodgers’ QB-pacing contract is two years old now, which is relatively ancient as far as the market is concerned.
As long as the salary camp continues rising the way it’s projected to, at a rate of $10 million or more per year, then players who are not the best at anything still can earn these type of “best” contracts. The more time passes, the more chance there is of someone getting paid beyond what they truly might be worth it. And if a team is willing to pay that kind of money? Then they’re absolutely worth it.
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