EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I sometimes hear from New York Giants fans who are stressed out about the fact that quarterback Eli Manning doesn't have a contract extension yet. So far this offseason, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers all have signed new deals with their teams. Manning, who has one year left on his contract, has not, and this bothers some people.
It should not.
The thing to remember before discussing anything else about Manning's next contract with the Giants is that there will be one. Anything and everything that's being said right now is posturing and/or negotiating. The Giants have no desire to enter the quarterback wilderness. Manning has no desire to play anywhere else. The Giants are OK with the idea of paying a top-of-the-market price for their quarterback. Manning understands that his leverage, while still very high due to his durability and the supply/demand reality of his position, isn't what it was the last time he went through this.
There's a deal to be done here, and the parameters basically are set now. Wilson's deal averages $21.9 million a year, Roethlisberger's $21.85 million, Newton's $20.76 million. Aaron Rodgers' deal, which is two years old now, tops the market with an average annual value of $22 million. The NFL Network reports that Manning wants more than Rodgers, which is a perfectly reasonable negotiating position for Manning to take at this stage. The Giants have made him the highest-paid quarterback before, and to do so again would cost only $200,000 per year more than the Seahawks gave Wilson, who has won half as many Super Bowls and started 119 fewer consecutive games.
The only important thing missing from the Manning negotiations right now is a deadline. Sure, in a perfect world, the Giants would want this done now so they don't have to worry about it next spring. But they recognize the imperfections of this world and, as long as Manning's not cutting them any deals, they're fine with waiting until the offseason to do the deal. Heck, they'd be fine with franchising him next March and doing the extension next July, or even in March 2017 if it came to that.
In the grand scheme of things, this is a small worry. Everybody knows the basics of what Manning's deal ultimately will be at this point. Whether it's done this week or next spring or next summer, something around that $21 million to $22 million mark is what the top quarterbacks make now. This is established. Some of the details can and will be haggled over. For instance, there's no way agent Tom Condon is going to accept a deal with guarantees that pay out as gradually as Wilson's do. In that respect, the Roethlisberger deal is likely the fairer comparison. But at the basic level, each side knows where the deal is ultimately going to come in, and if either had a compelling reason to do it now, it would be done already.
But there isn't a compelling reason to do it now. Manning doesn't care. He and the Giants know they'll be paying him a huge salary next year. They don't need 2015 cap room. So what's the big issue here, exactly?
If I were a Giants fan, I'd be a lot more concerned about the current state of the defense and the offensive line than I would about the manner in which Eli Manning is to be paid over the course of the next half-decade. The reason this deal is sure to be done at some point is the same reason you as a Giants fan don't need to spend your time thinking about it -- because Manning is the least of your problems.