SUPER MARIO IS READY TO BE FREE
"Mario Manningham had heard all about the infamous NFL Films clip, where Bill
Belichick, before the final drive of Super Bowl XLVI, implores his defense to
“make them go to Manningham.”
What was the Super Bowl hero’s reaction to
“Thank you,” Manningham said on Monday night.
thank Belichick, because who knows how much Manningham’s spectacular, 38-yard
catch that kick-started the game-winning drive of Super Bowl XLVI will factor in
to the millions of dollars he’s likely to earn when free agency starts next
Tuesday. He could be one of the top receivers on the open market, earning a
contract worth $7 million per year or more.
And yes, Manningham will be
a free agent when the market opens on March 13. Though in the past he put his chances
of re-signing with the Giants at 25-50 percent, he said on Monday night that
he does expect to hit the market. He said no progress has been made in talks
with the Giants, and given their problematic salary cap situation it’s doubtful
they’ll be able to afford him once he’s free.
“I want to be here,”
Manningham said at a theater in Times Square where he and four of his teammates
previewed the Giants’ championship DVD, which was officially released by Vivendi
Entertainment on Tuesday. “I feel like we can do a lot of damage in these next
four, five years. That’s just how I feel, because we’re all
“It’s not up to me, I want to stay. (But) it’s a business too.
You’ve got to look at it like that, too. It’s a business. That’s how it is.
You got to look out for your family, that’s how it is.”
If you’re still
holding your breath waiting for Manningham to return, you can exhale now. He’s
leaving. The Giants were already projected to be over the 2012 salary cap – or
the projected cap, since the number hasn’t been released yet – and that was
before they re-signed
Domenik Hixon – a one-year, minimum-salary contract with no bonus, according
to an NFL source -- and slapped
a $2.6 million “franchise” tag on Steve Weatherford. They still have work to
do just to get under the cap by Tuesday, so there’s a near-zero chance they’d
find the room for the kind of contract Manningham is
Considering he’s their third receiver, they probably wouldn’t
consider giving him a contract like that anyway.
That does leave a
pretty big void on the Giants’ roster, though. Both Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks
acknowledged the importance of having three dangerous options. After all, as
Belichick noted in his Super Bowl please to his defense, the only reason he was
willing to let Manningham catch passes was because he was much more concerned
about Nicks and Victor Cruz.
“We’d love to have Mario back to be a part
of our team,” Nicks said. “He’s definitely got a big role in our offense and we
would love to have him back.”
“Hopefully we have Mario back,” Manning
added. “He had a tremendous playoff run. He stepped in when Hakeem was hurt or
Vic was down. He stepped in and started for us and made big plays. He’s been in
this offense a long time and knows it and obviously has big-play potential.
Hopefully he’s back. If not, we’ll deal with that.” Read more...