When Ben Roethlisberger signed a shiny new 5 year, $87 million dollar contract, Giants360 did a celebratory jig being that it was so close to St. Patrick’s Day. It meant that the log jam of contract extensions for Eli Manning’s classmates, those quarterback’s drafted at the top of the 2004 NFL draft, was broken. Manning, Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers are all in the final year of their contracts, and none had been extended until Roethlisberger. His signing the 5 year contract means the floodgates had opened and Manning and Rivers will use it as a basis to also renegotiate. We assumed the Steelers structured the contract to create additional cap room for 2015 and 2016 and back loaded the deal. And we were w-w-w-wrong.
Roethlisberger had a salary cap figure of $18.5 million 2015 before the extension. It was the second of two balloon years at the end on his prior deal that has much easier to manage figures of $8 to $13.5 up front. This contract averages $21.8 million and drops his 2015 cap charge to only $17.2 million. The $1.3 million created is hardly a windfall. Next season, that charge jumps to $23.9 million and then it drops to $18.2 in 2017. Roster bonuses of $12 million ensure that it will likely be renegotiated or Roethisberger will be cut early int he 2018 NFL year, which begins in March. It’s a clear market deal, not a salary cap restructure.
Which brings us back to Manning. His cap charge for 2015 sits at $19.75 million and, as regular readers know, Giants360 had been calling for Jerry Reese to extend Manning to lower that amount before free agency started to give the Giants flexibility to sign some impact players. Now that we are a week into the free agent process, and the premier free agents are off the market, the urgency is gone, and Manning is no closer to an extension than he was two weeks ago. Should Reese still extend Manning? The answer is yes.
Manning had a bounce back year in 2014 with 4,410 yard, 30 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. If we give him the San Francisco game as a mulligan, he had just 9 interceptions on the season. He accomplished this while operating behind another patchwork offensive line and learning a new offense for the first time since he was a rookie eleven years earlier. When he came out of Ole Miss, many scouts though he would best fit a West Coast scheme as a professional. Manning’s performance in 2014 proved that prognostication to be accurate. With an improved line in front of him, a full season of Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz returning, and Shane Vereen coming out of the backfield, 2015 is shaping up to be Manning’s best season yet. Reese should lock him up now to ensure he finishes his career as a Giant.
The West Coast offense takes more than a full season to fully comprehend, not only for the quarterback, but for the other players on the offense. When the Giants take the field in September, this offense will be ready to kick things into another gear and Ben McAdoo will be able to roll out new wrinkles he was unable to utilize in 2014 because the concept were new. With practice limitations under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement further inhibiting the full development of the system, Manning’s accomplishments are even more impressive.
The franchise tag for quarterbacks next season will be somewhere between $20.5 and $21.5 million, using prior season increases as a guide. Extending Manning will allow the Giants to structure the deal in such a way that they control the cap hit for the first two years of the deal.
For those who will say, Manning should take less money so the team can bring in more talent, I ask a simple question… If your boss, came to you and asked you to take 20% less in salary to allow the company to being in some more workers, would you say yes?
Manning had a horrific 2013 season, but proved he is still a franchise quarterback last season, and Giants360 expects him to improve upon that performance in 2015. If signing him to a market value contract is what it takes to ensure that he finishes his career with the Giants, so be it.
The salary cap information quoted in this article is taken from overthecap.com. A website that compiles cap information for all NFL players and contracts. If you have an interest in this detail, that’s the site to click on.
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