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Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Giants Had to Overpay

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Eli Manning is now the highest paid player in the NFL. That's Eli, not Peyton.

Chances are, you either shook your head, laughed your ass off, or choked on your Fruit Loops when you read that the youngest Manning signed a six-year, $97.5 million contract extension (which also included $35 million in guarantees) with the Giants on Wednesday.

And who could blame you?

There's no way, under any circumstance, by any stretch of the imagination that Eli should be the highest paid player in the NFL, the highest paid at his position, or even the highest paid at his own family reunion. And there's not enough booze in a New York City bar that could convince me otherwise.

But the Giants did what they had to do.

This is how the NFL works; it's all about timing. Eli was set to become a free agent at the end of the year and there was no way the G-Men were going to allow him to hit the open market, where another team would have surely paid $97.5 million, if not more. The pay rates for NFL players rise every year, so it's not like the Giants were going to luck out and receive some kind of half-off coupon to use when it came time to re-sign him.

Eli has never had eye-popping numbers and it stands to reason that he never will. He finished with an 86.4 QB rating last year, which ranked him below future Hall of Famers Shaun Hill and Seneca Wallace. And for his career, Eli has compiled a lackluster 76.1 QB rating to go with his equally lackluster 94-to-74 touchdown-to-interception ratio. (Not to mention he also has benefited from playing for a team with an outstanding running game, defense and offensive line.)

But don't forget that Eli has also taken the Giants to the playoffs every year he's been a starter, led them to two division titles, and accomplished what many quarterbacks can only dream about when they strap on their helmets every year: Win a Super Bowl.

Also keep in mind what rookie quarterbacks are making these days. The Lions signed first overall pick Matthew Stafford to a six-year, $72 million contract, which also included $41.75 million in guarantees. The Jets signed Mark Sanchez to a five-year, $44.5 million contract, which included $28 million in guaranteed money.

Compare the three:

Eli Manning: 98 TDs, 14,623 yards, Super Bowl MVP.

Matthew Stafford: 2009 Capital One Bowl MVP.

Mark Sanchez: 1 GQ magazine cover.

The fact that Eli Manning is the highest paid player in the NFL is completely ridiculous. But handing $72 million to a rookie who has never taken a snap in a live game is utterly sinful. The NFL rookie salary structure is a joke, but that's another argument for another time.

Did the Giants overpay for Eli? Absolutely. But they had to. They had to overpay because the NFL free agent market is set up that way. So while the Giants are overpaying, they might as well do so for a Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback who has never missed a start and does everything his franchise asks of him, including shrugging off immense criticism while playing in one of the toughest cities in the NFL.

By Anthony Stalter  |  August 6, 2009; 1:58 PM ET  | Category:  New York Giants , Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Well Deserved Pay Raise | Next: Giants Could Have Done Worse

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Interesting that the question here is whether Eli Manning is worth what he's being paid.

He's take the Giants to the Super Bowl and won! HELLOOOOOO

And then there's no outcry when both National's picks Stephen Strasburg and Aaron Crowe who are both unproven in the "Bigs" receiving a $50 Million signing bonus! Come on, be serious!

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | August 6, 2009 2:51 PM

Its about winning, not stats or hype (someone tell the Danny). The G-men tend toward franchise players who spend their entire career (Strahan, LT). Manning may not be the best pure passer in the league, but he's a proven leader and winner who is durable and a good citizen.

Now is anyone who plays a game for a living worth that much money? Thats another matter.

Posted by: mikey4 | August 6, 2009 3:44 PM

Why shouldn't players be paid millions of dollars? They generate much much more than that in income for their respective teams owners. It only makes sense that they should get their fair share of the income they generate. They work in a field that requires extreme specialization, you wouldn't complain about a heart surgeon who gets paid a ton of money do you? Now before you go off the handle and say you can't compare a heart surgeon to an NFL quarterback, I'm not... what I'm comparing is the level of specialization. There are probably 50 "top" heart surgeons in the world, and comparably about 15 "top" QB's. Its harder to find a QB who can take your team to, let alone win, a Super Bowl... so yes a player that plays a game does deserve to earn that much money, especially one who plays a game in which 250-300+lb men try their hardest to punish you every time you have the ball. I've never seen a heart surgeon hit by James Harrison or DeMarcus Ware, have you?

Posted by: bobwalker1 | August 6, 2009 4:11 PM

As a follow-up, the league has got to get this rookie contract structure under control. 72 million for Matt Stafford? 23.5 for Derius Hayward Bey? are you kidding me? I don't even care what upside they have they should have to PROVE their NFL abilities before they get contracts like that. That is the reason we see Eli getting a 92 million dollar contract; other teams (who can't even compete at the top level) offer ridiculous contracts to top draft picks before they even see an NFL snap. The NBA has by far the BEST system for rookie contracts why doesn't the NFL adopt something similar? Is the players union that strong? Seriously? Make the starting salaries higher if you must and make them Guaranteed, so if a player breaks his leg/arm/back and can't return not his previous level of play he's compensated for it. Trust me you can live your entire life on even 5 million dollars.. let alone the paltry 3.6 million Andrew Bogut got in 2008 as the #1 pick. Oh no only 3.6 million! Now I'll never have my house on MTV's Cribs! Players can also take out insurance policies like Florida's Tim Tebow did... No rookie, I repeat NO ROOKIE should have more than a 10 million dollar contract, even if that rookie is Peyton Manning (48 million 11.6 guaranteed) or Adrian Peterson (40.5 million 17 guaranteed. Huge contracts to rookies drive up the fair market value of even "capable" players to ridiculous numbers, lets get this under control Mr. Goodell...

Posted by: bobwalker1 | August 6, 2009 4:33 PM

I couldn’t agree more with this article. What are you going to here, Eli won the impossible super bowl and has been the face of that team. If I had to pick a quarterback to lead my team right now out of any QB in the league would I take Eli #1...NO, I might have him slotted about #5. In fact I would take his brother over him any day, but the giants can’t let him go, is he better then any rookie they would get...yes!! Believe me I am a Bears fan and when a QB comes a long you keep him and do what you have to do to keep him especially a super bowl MVP QB

Posted by: tdok22 | August 6, 2009 5:37 PM

I totally agree. The Giants had no choice.

Bottom line is they already won one Super Bowl with Eli and they can easily win another. They have a franchise QB in Eli, and they did what they had to do to keep him.

Makes total sense to me.

Posted by: gorlando1 | August 6, 2009 5:43 PM

Thanks for the comments.

helloisanyoneoutthere - I think some people can't look past that Manning doesn't set the league ablaze with stats. Even though he's won a SB, our sports society is so fixated with stats that we tend to debate the worth of every player.

TDOK22 - I thought about the Bears (pre-Cutler) when people started debating this topic and how their fans would have loved to seen Eli come to Chicago for $96 mil (Again, pre-Cutler.)

Posted by: AnthonyStalter | August 6, 2009 9:20 PM

Great article and I agree on all points. This was a no-brainer for the Giants. If they waited longer, his price would only go up, so they'll actually get him at a discount when the extension kicks in. However, by making him the highest paid player, the pressure is all on Eli to get it done and play at the level of his pay. And we know how the NY media and fans will be if he doesn't.

Posted by: 18andDONE | August 7, 2009 12:01 AM

Excellent article. I am not too concerned about professional athlete's salaries anymore. Once President Obama starts distributing their salaries to the rest of us they won't be making enough to afford tickets to NFL games.
Seriously, more power to each of these guys for what they can make......it's the American way.....or it WAS!! Good write-up, Mr. Stalter.

Posted by: JackDaBear | August 7, 2009 8:26 AM

Very accurate article! I don't think he's even a top 5 QB but the Giants had no other choice and I wish all Giant fans could read this.

Posted by: Mark_Connecticut | August 7, 2009 8:53 AM

I have never seen a lineman save anyone's life either.

Posted by: chopin224 | August 7, 2009 11:56 AM

I did choke on something but it was Lucky Charms not Fruit Loops. Get your facts straight. I couldn't agree more with this article. In 5 years we won't even be close to that number in highest paid QB's. I don't want to even think what that number will be. I do love the comparison of a heart surgeon to a NFL QB. I don't discount that fact that it is a highly specialized profession. However, I can't remember the last time I saw Eli cracking someone's chest plate and performing open heart surgery to save their life.

Posted by: Simpletruth_5 | August 7, 2009 12:21 PM

Everybody is talking about these so called great quarter backs. What about Big Ben with the Steelers. His 1st year as a rookie he won 15 in a row. He's only 26 years old and has 2 Super Bowl rings. He broke all rookie records and he doesn't come close to getting that kind of money. What's up with that.

Posted by: bpkendziora | August 7, 2009 12:38 PM

True, you don't see Eli cracking people's chests open to save lives. Different profession and really has nothing to do with this discussion. But you also don't see Eli on the police blotter either. No motorcycle crashes, no domestic violence, no barroom fights, no stabbings, no shootings, no DWI, and no sexual assault, all of which seem to be a daily event in the NFL. He took all the crap from the NY media and fans and did his job, which is give his team a chance to win, and they did. Now he reaps the rewards of his solid, honest effort. He's one of what seems to be a handful of good guys in the NFL that you want your kid to root for and be like...and he's humble. Good for him for signing this contract and good for the Giants for making a very smart business decision.

Posted by: 18andDONE | August 7, 2009 1:30 PM

I am in agreement with the article all the way.No way Eli is better than Peyton, in fact he is probably about the 7th best QB in the League. But timing is everything here folks.He is getting paid !

Posted by: Bay44 | August 7, 2009 1:59 PM

BIG BEN IS STILL THE BETTER QB. HE'S NEVER BEEN ON A POLICE BLOTTER. AS FAR AS THIS SO CALLED RAPE ISSUE. EITHER SHE LOST HER JOB OR SHE NEEDS THE MONEY REAL BAD. BIG BEEN IS STILL CLEAN. AS FAR AS THE MOTORCYCLE GOES, THAT WASN'T HIS FAULT. HE DESERVES A LOT MORE RECOGNITION THAN HE'S GETTING.

Posted by: bpkendziora | August 7, 2009 2:03 PM

I was doing alright until somebody got carried away with the Big Ben stuff....He is on the blotter for the rape case that is being investigated and he did launch his motorcycle late one night. I have no problem riding a motor cycle but this guy should have known better..I hope the rape case goes away but it still gets back to judgement and he has placed himself in two bad situations..

Eli on the other hand has not. He avoids putting himself in bad situations both on and off the field and I think this played a large part in his contract.

Posted by: D-Man1 | August 10, 2009 7:12 PM

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