"Brother, can you spare a dime?"
That's probably not something that Peyton Manning ever expected to say to his little brother, but, by Wednesday's end, Eli Manning will be the best-paid member of his family. The Giants and their quarterback have agreed to a contract extension that will make Eli the highest paid quarterback, per year, in the history of the NFL. The six-year, $97.5 million contract will pay him $15.3 million a season, a million or so more than his brother will earn per season.
It would be hard to make the argument that Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL, but timing is everything when it comes to contract negotiations. His contract was set to end at the close of the 2009 season, and the Giants don't need the headaches of a disgruntled quarterback at the forefront of their offense. There's the on-field issues that could result, especially if they used the franchise tag to ensure his continued employment, and the off-field concern of selling tickets to a new stadium with uncertainty under center.
It's hardly a complete no-brainer, however. A career passer rating of 76.1 and a 98-74 touchdown-to-interception ratio speak to his struggles with consistency. That was never clearer than it was after Plaxico Burress left the team last season, and now the Giants are entering the season without him or Amani Toomer around to make Manning look good.
That said, he also had his best season in 2008. Manning also won a Super Bowl, is a model citizen and has solidified a position that's bedeviled the Giants since Phil Simms went off to the broadcasting booth. Furthermore, he took mountains of criticism from fans and media and lived to tell the tale. That's worth a helluva lot.
So, on the whole, it was a smart move by the Giants to secure their future under center. Now they've just got to make sure they give Manning the weapons he needs to succeed.