Eli Manning said the report that he wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL is laughable. Not everyone in the first family of football took it as a joking matter, though.
Manning said he first heard about the NFL Network's report when he received a voice mail from his father, Archie.
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"He was upset about it," Eli Manning said.
And despite saying "I just kind of laugh at it," it was clear that Manning was angered by the report from the way he came out blazing against the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who delivered the nugget on the air Monday evening.
"The reports are all wrong," Manning said. "I don't know where they get their information.
"That's never been said, never come out of my mouth," Manning continued. "I never said it to my agent, I never said it. I don't know where the report is coming from . . . I guess you just wonder if it's a guy making stuff up to try to make a name for himself. I don't know what his purpose in saying it is."
Rapoport said on Wednesday, "I stand by my reporting."
Later on the NFL Network's NFL Total Access, Rapoport said, "First of all, what I reported on the contract proposal sent by agent Tom Condon to the Giants and in the negotiations regarding Eli Manning's contract are accurate. Some of what [Eli Manning] said is also accurate: Those words never came out of his mouth. He never specifically told the Giants I want to be the highest-paid player in the game. Of course he didn't; quarterbacks never talk directly to teams. That is why you have agents and that is why Tom Condon, who has been doing this for years, is one of the best in the business.
"What I can tell you is these contract proposals that he has sent to the Giants, he has asked for Eli to be paid on a per-year basis more than Aaron Rodgers. And there is reason that he should be paid like that; it's not just the two Super Bowls, it's not just that he is far better than the alternative for the Giants -- look at how his contract is structured. His cap number this year is $20 million. If the Giants franchise tag him next year, he's going to make almost $24 million. That right right there is the starting off point for negotiations for an extension. And by the way, that alone would make Eli Manning the highest-paid player in the NFL. That explains some of the proposals that he has sent to the Giants."
Manning said he spoke with Giants senior vice president of communications Pat Hanlon after he got the voice mail from his father, saying Hanlon told him not many people are buying into it and that "the source is not very reliable."
Manning is in the last year of his contract and negotiations with the Giants have been slow. While other contemporaries of Manning's have received extensions this offseason -- Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Phillip Rivers of the Chargers, fellow 2004 first-round draft picks in particular -- Manning has gone unsigned. And he's shown no public indication that he is in a rush to do so.
Why would he? If he does not have a new deal by next spring, the Giants likely would use the franchise tag on him. If they use the exclusive franchise tender, that would pay him $23.7 million in 2016. And make him the highest paid player in the league. It's likely that's where the Manning negotiations started from agent Tom Condon, so while it has never been specifically expressed [according to Manning] that he wants to be the highest paid player in the NFL, it has most likely been implied by the preliminary exchanges between the two sides.
"I don't know how negotiating goes and what's being asked," Manning said. "I don't think I want to know. But that was never said by [Condon] claiming this is the goal for what we want to do."
For now, Manning said he is focused on practices and getting ready for the 2015 season.
"I don't compare myself with other quarterbacks by their salary and by their contracts," the two-time Super Bowl MVP said. "I've been blessed to play in this league this many years and still blessed to play this year and I'm going to do my job. That's all I can concern myself with."
Tom Coughlin said he does that well.
"It's not going to affect him," Coughlin said of Manning's level of distraction over the contract. Asked to rate Manning's professionalism in cases such as this, Coughlin required a gauge.
"How high does it go?" he asked. "What's the number you want, one to 10? Eleven."