Manning was entering the last season of his rookie deal he signed back in 2004 that was going to pay him $9.4 million. Franchise quarterbacks certainly don't just pop up, and some teams spend years looking for the right piece to fall into place to lead their team. The Giants felt they had their man, and had to give him the money he was looking for.
When the two sides eventually reached an agreement, it left Eli with the highest annual salary in the entire National Football League.
The two sides agreed to a six-year, $97.5 million contract extension, that will run through 2015 (it includes the last year of his current contract which makes the total value of the new deal at $106.9 million over seven years, or $15.3 million per season).
What puzzles me though is why didn't the Giants front office wait until the end of this up-coming season before throwing bags of money at Eli?
Sure, they might have been worried about his mind set, and wanted to make sure contract talks didn't affect his play on the field, but Eli is way too inconsistent to be getting the money he is currently getting paid.
It all comes down to the fact that Eli Manning is a middle of the pack quarterback, even Giants' fans will admit this.
Don't get me wrong, the guy knows how to win. Since becoming the starter for the Giants in 2004, Eli has a 42-29 regular season record and a 4-3 record in the postseason (including a Super Bowl win).
However, Eli hasn't been one of the top quarterbacks in the league (he has even struggled to be in the top 15). The guy has a career 55.9% completion rate, 98 touchdowns, 74 interceptions, and a 76.1 quarterback rating for his five-year career.
In comparison to the top picks of his draft class, Manning has a lower completion percentage than Phillip Rivers (+6.4), Ben Roethlisberger (+6.5) and even now UFL-star J.P. Losman (+3.4), and trails Big Ben and Rivers in almost every other passing category.
It also needs to be mentioned that Eli has had a great team around him for most of his years with the Giants. He has constantly had one of the best running backs lining up behind him (whether it be Tiki Barber or Brandon Jacobs), one of the best offensive lines in the game, a top of the line receiver in Plaxico Burress, and to help take the pressure off of him even more, one of the best teams on the defensive side of the ball.
Manning needed to prove that he is one of the best QB's in the NFL while also showing that he needed to be consistent over the course of a season.
Why not wait until this year plays out to offer him a deal like this? Even if worse comes to worse, and you sure aren't sure about Eli after this year, you could've stuck the franchise tag on him after next season and you still get two more years of Eli playing in the Giants uniform.
There are just too many questions marks in Eli's game and there is an even bigger one coming into this season—Can he succeed without a pro bowl caliber wide reciever to throw to?
Elite quarterbacks create great wide receivers (Tom Brady anyone?) and Manning has not played well when he hasn't had an elite threat in the line up. In the five games played last season without Plax (including the first game of the playoffs for the Giants in the divisional round against the Philadelphia Eagles), Manning threw just two touchdowns to four interceptions, didn't throw for more than 191 yards in any of those games, and the team went 1-4 when they needed their quarterback to step up the most.
Manning is being paid as not only the best quarterback, but the best player in the entire league, and that just isn't the case.
Give me a choice and my top quarterbacks consist of Brady, Peyton Manning, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Brees and Donovan McNabb. It's not like Eli is a throw in right after the top-tier players either. I'll even take Chad Pennington, Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, or Aaron Rodgers over Manning. And with guys like Matt Ryan waiting in the wings to become an elite quarterback, Eli has trouble even cracking the top 10 list of current NFL quarterbacks.
Has Manning been very durable? Yes.
Has he won games? Yes.
Does he have a Super Bowl ring? Yes.
But just because he has all of the things above, doesn't mean that he is worth $100+ million over the course of the next seven years.
I don't know about you guys out there, but $15 million per season is way too much to be paying a guy to get me 3,000 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions a season.
Especially if the winning stops.