Speaking to reporters today, including Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, Eli Manning denied that he or his agent has told the Giants he wants to become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Manning, who said he heard about the report from his father, Archie Manning, was “clearly annoyed” by the story, tweets Graziano.
“The reports are all wrong,” Manning said, per Graziano (Twitter link). “Never been said, never came out of my mouth, never said it to my agent.”
While it’s possible that agent Tom Condon expressed that sentiment to the Giants without directly hearing it from his client, Manning dismissed that notion as well, telling reporters, “I know that was never said by him, claiming that was the goal” (Twitter link).
It makes sense that Manning would be frustrated by such a story, since the leaking of such lofty alleged contract demands generally only serves to turn a fanbase against the player. It also seems unlikely that Manning, who typically avoids discussing his contract publicly and opts to leave that side of the business to his agent, would draw such a line in the sand during negotiations.
On the other hand, even if Manning didn’t explicitly ask the Giants to make him the league’s highest-paid quarterback, he would have a reasonable case to do so, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explained yesterday. New York appears ready to use its franchise tag on Manning if the two sides don’t agree on a long-term deal, and the value of that tag would be at least $23.7MM — it would likely be higher, since the Giants would probably use the exclusive designation, rather than the non-exclusive one.
Based on those figures, Manning would have the leverage to seek an extension that surpasses Aaron Rodgers‘ $22MM annual salary, even if a deal in the neighborhood of Ben Roethlisberger‘s new contract ($21.85MM per year) may be more probable. According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, recent extensions signed by Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers, Manning’s fellow 2004 draftees, are the points of reference in talks with the Giants, with the two-time Super Bowl MVP aiming to match or exceed their deals.