Report: Eli Manning wants to be the NFL's highest-paid quarterback

According to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapaport, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is angling to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. Rapaport said on NFL Total Access that although the Giants hope to have a deal done before the start of the season, there remains a "significant gap" between the organization and Manning's agent.

Manning is entering the final season of a six-year, $97.5 million contract and is set to make $17 million in base salary in 2015. His $19.5 million cap hit (which includes a workout bonus and a roster bonus) is third-highest among quarterbacks behind only Drew Brees and the recently-extended Philip Rivers, according to Spotrac. The average salary of $16.25 million on his current deal, though, ranks just 17th in the NFL.

What would it take for Manning to be the NFL's highest-paid quarterback? Let's take a look at this chart that shows the top five in cumulative cash earnings remaining (i.e. not what they signed for, but how much they still have left to earn on their deals), guaranteed money (at the time the deal was signed) and average annual value.

TOP 5 CONTRACTS - Data via Spotrac
Value Remaining Guaranteed Sum Average AV
Cam Newton – $118.5 mil Philip Rivers – $65 mil Aaron Rodgers – $22 mil
Jay Cutler – $109.2 mil Russell Wilson – $61.5 mil Russell Wilson – $21.9 mil
Colin Kaepernick – $106 mil Colin Kaepernick – $61 mil Ben Roethlisberger – $21.85 mil
Ben Roethlisberger – $99 mil Cam Newton – $60 mil Philip Rivers – $20.82 mil
Philip Rivers – $99 mil Tony Romo – $55 mil Cam Newton – $20.76 mil

Considering Manning is 34 years old, it does seem a bit unlikely he'll top the "value remaining" list with his next deal. Here's why: Let's say he were to sign a contract that pays $22.1 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid QB on an average annual basis. Even a five-year contract at that rate would not top Cam Newton's $118.5 million in cumulative cash earnings remaining, and that would take Manning through his age-38 season.

It's far more realistic for him to target a four-year deal (much like the extensions signed by fellow 2004 draftees Roethlisberger and Rivers) that contains a slightly higher guarantee than Rivers, effectively making Manning the highest-paid player in the game. Agent Tom Condon can favorably compare Manning to Rivers by touting the Giants signal-caller's playoff virtues, and he can push for an average annual value higher than Rodgers' by noting that the five-year, $110 million contract Rodgers signed two years ago no longer accurately reflects the quarterback market, especially when you consider that Manning would receive a $25 million(ish) salary were the Giants to use the exclusive franchise tag on him next offseason.

We could sit here and argue all day about whether or not Manning "deserves" to be the NFL's highest-paid player, but the reality is that deserve has nothing to do with it. The quarterback market is what it is, and Manning has more than enough leverage to get the contract he wants. He's already a Giants legend. He's one of only 11 quarterbacks ever to win more than one Super Bowl and one of only five players to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs. He just had his best season in at least three years. And as the last of this group of QBs still standing without a deal, he's got comparison points to work with and no reason whatsoever to sign for even a dollar less than Rivers or Roethlisberger got paid.

Eli is looking for a big pay day. (Getty Images)
CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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