August 20, 2015 - Greg Gabriel
Is Eli Manning worthy of being the top paid QB in the NFL?
There have been various media reports earlier this week that the New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is looking to become the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. While there is no harm in asking to become the highest paid QB, making it happen is an entirely different thing. A few years ago, Eli Manning was considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He was easily in the same category as his older brother Peyton, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. At the time, he was playing like those players. He was also getting paid like them. That time is gone. Since the Giants last Super Bowl win in January 2012, Manning’s play has deteriorated. Right now, he isn’t nearly the player he was in 2011 or before. When Manning was playing his best, his quarterback rating was consistently between 85 and 95. He had a good touchdown to interception ratio, he was making plays when he had to, and of course, the Giants were winning. In the three seasons since the Giants last won the Super Bowl, their record has gone from 9-7 to 7-9 to 6-10, and the prospects of getting above .500 this year are marginal. Just as the Giants' record has gone downhill, so has Manning's play. In both 2012 and 2013, Manning’s completion percentage was under 60% (59% and 57% to be exact). His yardage was down, and his interceptions were up. In 2013, Manning threw 27 interceptions. Last year, the Giants brought in Ben McAdoo from Green Bay to be the new offensive coordinator. They are now running a system similar to what Green Bay runs. With the new offense, Manning's numbers improved, completing 379 of 601 throws for 4410 yards, a 63% completion percentage, and 30 touchdowns. His interceptions dropped from 27 to 14, and his rating was up to 92. Still, he fumbled seven times, and the Giants won only six games. In his second year in the system, he, theoretically, should improve on his numbers from a year ago. That may happen, but will the Giants be much better than they were in 2014? The other part of the equation is Manning is already 34 years old. He is clearly in the last few years of his career. Is it beneficial for the Giants to pay him like the elite quarterbacks in the league? At his age, and with the way he has played the last three years, I say no. If Eli was three years younger, I might reconsider. To tie up more than 20 million a year in cap space on a declining 34-year old quarterback is ludicrous. Manning deserves to be paid fairly, but making him the highest paid quarterback is bad business. It could hurt the Giants for years to come if the contract is not cap friendly. Football is a performance-based business. The player's production should match his salary. Based on Manning's production over the last three seasons, he doesn’t deserve to be paid any more than he is currently making. His agent will want to be paid for what Eli has done in his prime. Eli is no longer in his prime and should be paid accordingly. To me, that is a contract equal to what he is making now, if that, and I wouldn’t go out any more than two to three years with a new deal. Anything more could be disastrous for the Giants in the future. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe