New York Giants: 5 Reasons G-Men Shouldn't Let Mario Manningham Walk

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2012

New York Giants: 5 Reasons G-Men Shouldn't Let Mario Manningham Walk

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    Mario Manningham should be the New York Giants' top priority this offseason.

    After his unbelievable catch in Super Bowl XLVI, Manningham is one of the biggest names on the free agent market for 2012.

    And according to ESPN's Christopher Hunt, the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears are interested in signing the 25-year-old Super Bowl hero.

    Although the Giants already have two outstanding wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, re-signing Manningham would throw the Giants into elite status at the WR position.

    Here are five reasons the G-Men must re-sign No. 82:

Role Player

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    New England Patriot's head coach Bill Belichick said it himself in Super Bowl XLVI.

    "This is still a Cruz-and-Nicks game, I know we're right on them. It's tight, but those are still the guys. Make them go to Manningham, make them go to (Bear) Pascoe. Let's make sure we get Cruz and Nicks."

    With Victor Cruz's breakout season and Hakeem Nicks' continued journey to elite wide-receiver status, Mario Manningham was lost in the shuffle.

    Cruz and Nicks each broke the 1,000-yard receiving barrier in 2011, combined for 158 receptions and 16 touchdowns, and became recognized as one of the most dangerous receiving tandems in the NFL

    Manningham, who played in just 12 games due to a knee injury, had 39 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns.

    When Manningham, Cruz and Nicks are on the field together, it creates a near impossible matchup for opposing defenses.

    The Giants would be wise to re-sign Manningham for this reason alone.

Deadly Receiving Corps

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    How many teams in the NFL have three wide receivers who could each be a No.1 for another team?

    With Manningham, the Giants boast the scariest receiving corps in the NFL.

    Statistically, Manningham, Cruz and Nicks are a better receiving crew than Dallas' Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson, Green Bay's Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and James Jones, New Orleans' Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem and Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Hines Ward. 

    In Nicks, the Giants have a 6'1" receiver with some of the best hands in football.

    In Cruz, the Giants now have a superstar with blazing speed in the slot position.

    And Manningham adds big-play capability with his speed on the outside. 

    There aren't too many teams in the NFL that have three receivers who they can depend on to make a big play at any given moment.

Big-Game Performer

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    Manningham showed up for the Giants during the 2011 postseason.

    In the wild-card game against the Atlanta Falcons, Manningham had four receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.

    The following week against the Green Bay Packers, he added a fourth-quarter touchdown to essentially put the game out of reach for the Packers.

    Against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, he scored a go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown to help the Giants reach Super Bowl XLVI.

    And we all know what he did in Super Bowl XLVI, when he made an improbable 38-yard catch down the left sideline with the game on the line.

    Even during the regular season, three of his four touchdowns came on third or fourth down, and all four scores came while the G-Men were trailing. 

    The Giants can't let Manningham walk based on his big-game performance alone.

Huge Upside

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    Although he was slowed by a knee injury, Manningham still put together a decent season.

    His 523 receiving yards were fourth-best on the team. He also added 39 receptions and four touchdowns.

    It was just a year ago that Manningham was the Giants' second-leading receiver, finishing the 2010 season with 60 receptions for 944 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Manningham and Jordy Nelson were both part of the 2008 NFL draft.  In 12 more games than Manningham, Nelson has just eight more receptions, 216 more yards and three more touchdowns.

    Sharing the field with Nicks and Cruz will allow Manningham to get more open looks downfield and in the end zone.

    Eli Manning showed this season that he trusts Manningham just as much as Cruz and Nicks, which is a bad sign for opposing defenses.

    If Manningham remains with the Giants, it's only a matter of time before he eclipses 1,000 yards receiving and is voted to his first Pro Bowl. 

He Wants to Be a Giant

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    After the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, Manningham was asked if he wanted to stay in New York. According to the New York Post, he does: “I want to come back. I want to come back, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m just going to try and enjoy this Super Bowl [win]. I’m not really thinking about it right now.”

    If Manningham leaves, he'll claim more money and be remembered as a Super Bowl XLVI hero, something I'm sure no Giant fan would resent.

    He's the biggest free-agent name on the Giants' roster and one of the biggest WR free agents of 2012. The Giants are well aware of that.

    But if he remains in New York where he's been a consistent threat for the past three seasons, he'll have a chance to repeat as a Super Bowl champion and be part of history as a member of one of the greatest receiving corps the NFL has ever seen.