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Don’t Let the Face Fool You: Eli Manning Wants to be NFL’s Highest-Paid Player

Image via Zimbio

Image via Zimbio

Until this week, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner, had been inexplicably nonchalant about the lack of movement on a contract extension. Although, considering the two sides hadn’t even sat down together by mid-June, the lack of urgency has been even more pronounced.

The Giants’ wait-and-see approach could end up costing them dearly, though it makes sense on the surface. Take away Manning’s rings and you’re left with an 8-8, largely inconsistent quarterback who, more often than not, counters every flash of brilliance with a crippling interception.

Now 11 seasons into his NFL career, and years after the maddening inconsistencies should’ve been ironed out of his game, Manning remains unpredictable as ever. But entering the sixth and final year of a deal worth just shy of $100 million, at this point he’s not about to take a pay cut—why would he?

All that offseason patience is paying off right now, with Manning’s bargaining position boosted dramatically by the four-year, $83.25 million extension Philip Rivers signed with the San Diego Chargers. Both drafted in 2004, Manning at No. 1 and Rivers at No. 4, Manning’s postseason success alone all but assures a more lucrative deal.

And he knows it too. On Tuesday it was reported that, not only does Manning expect to be paid more than Rivers, he wants to be the highest paid player in the league. Meaning the Giants have to look at the contracts of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Carolina’s Cam Newton…and then do better.

The Giants certainly have to do a lot better than they have so far—there is still a “significant gap” between the team and Manning in negotiations. With the Mara’s unyielding commitment to 68-year-old head coach Tom Coughlin (soon to be 69) making it impossible to believe they’d legitimately commit to a rebuilding project, Manning’s leverage cannot be overstated.

Which means we can all laugh all we want at the idea that Eli Manning is, on any level, deserved of being paid as though he were the best quarterback in the league, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

And Manning will be laughing too—all the way to the bank.

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