Eli Manning is currently the 17th best-paid quarterback at a little more than $16 million in the average year. That makes sense, because he's the 16th-best quarterback based on his average QBR performance in the last five seasons. If we stuck to the linear relationship above, Manning would have to have an average QBR of about 90 to justify his pay relative to the rest of the field—very far from his average of 56.
So what exactly is Manning thinking? Why does he think he should be paid so much?
Because he can.
Entering the final year of his six-year contract, Manning's cap hit will be $19.75 million. If he doesn't sign a new deal, and the Giants use the franchise tag to keep him, he would get $23.7 million next year. That's the key number, because it would put him above Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who makes $22 million per year.
Mike Florio at NBC Sports, owned by NBC Universal along with CNBC, has a great analysis on this, breaking down the different options for both the Giants and Manning, in terms of what's possible. Manning has the leverage to ask for at least that $23.7 million number, which would then only go up the following year, giving him a two-year total of at least $50 million, based on the franchise tag alone. If they go through it in a different way, Manning could make $25 million next year and almost $55 million for the next two years.
With numbers like that, it's no wonder Manning is trying to get as much as he can, if he's going to lock himself up for the long run.
Contract leverage is very different from actually earning your pay due to what you've done on the field. Manning has done a good job with one of these factors, the one that seems to matter more.
On Wednesday, some reality started to set in. Manning told reporters he never actually said that he wanted to be the highest-paid player. Manning's own father called him upset about the original report, not wanting his sons to look greedy and selfish. Let's see where his new contract actually shakes out.