With Eli Manning’s six-year, $97.5 million contract expiring after the 2015 season, the veteran quarterback is expected to sign an extension with the Giants sometime soon. After all, Manning is arguably the best player on a franchise he has spent his entire career with.
Coming into the 2014 campaign, there were some questions about how much longer Manning could continue being an effective NFL quarterback, but those issues were answered for by a resurgent season. The Giants’ all-time passing yards leader completed a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes last year while throwing for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdown passes. Nowadays, no one is asking whether or not the Giants should sign their man to another extension.
The real problem is how much and not if the Giants pay Manning during the rest of his New York career. Franchise quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Eli’s brother Peyton have taken pay cuts or restructured deals over the course of their careers in order to help their respective teams work around the salary cap. Giants fans will be expecting Eli Manning to do the same when he makes his new deal with New York, but is Manning obligated to do what is best for his team?
The short answer is no. NFL players have short careers and are constantly putting their bodies at risk. Therefore, no one should blame them for reaching to earn the very most they can out of every contract. The long answer, on the other hand, is more complicated.
Entering his 12th season in the league, Manning has already lasted way longer than your average NFL player. You can attribute that to his pedigree as a top overall pick as well as modern rules that protect quarterbacks against career-threatening injuries. The Giants’ signal caller also has endorsement deals with large companies like Toyota and Dunkin’ Donuts that allow him to earn cash outside of the football field.
Considering those facts, it’s hard to feel bad for Manning as an underpaid athlete. That, combined with Peyton’s contract history and fans’ expectations with franchise players, will put a lot of pressure on Eli Manning to take a pay cut for the benefit of his organization.
Given what similar players have done in similar situations, Manning will probably follow suit and give his team a break. However, that doesn’t mean that asking for more money or earning as much as he can makes a player like Manning selfish or greedy. No matter what he has already made in his career, Manning shouldn’t be blamed if he decides that his family’s financial well-being is more important than that of the Giants.