Jobu weighs in on Giants wide-receiver Mario Manningham’s declaration that he might be elsewhere next season.
Since the first couple of weeks of spring training tend to be a bit boring, let’s talk about football today! Yesterday, Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham (if you haven’t seen his catch, it’s at the bottom of the post) was asked how he felt about his chances of coming back to the Giants. According to a report in The Vindicator of Youngstown, Ohio, Manningham said there was a 75% chance that he was going to end up somewhere else next year. Mario has since backed off a bit on his comments, but still only sees a 50/50 shot of staying in New York. What should the Giants do?
To me, this is an open and shut case for both parties. Both sides need to figure out what they want, and if it doesn’t match, Manningham should be wearing #82 for someone else next season. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for what Mario did in the Super Bowl, or for what he’s done during his career with the Giants, but is this such a big story? If he hadn’t made that catch, would we even be discussing this?
The fact of the matter is that Manningham needs to do what’s best for him, and the Giants need to do what’s best for the team (and the payroll). His four year career with the Giants hasn’t been anything spectacular. He’s never started more than eight games in a year, caught more than 60 passes or accumulated more than 944 yards. Last season, he missed four games with injuries. He ended up with only 39 catches for 523 yards and four TDs. That’s hardly irreplaceable.
The story in The Vindicator mentioned that Manningham wanted the ball more. With the emergence of Victor Cruz, Manningham has become the third option for Eli Manning. In fact, he does his best damage when the other teams don’t pay attention to him (as Bill Belichick said in the Super Bowl, make them go to Manningham). Eli’s first two options are Hakeem Nicks and the aforementioned record-setting Cruz (most receiving yards in a season in Giants history, longest reception in team history). When you group those two and take into account the emergence of Jake Ballard as a viable target at tight end as well (if his knee is ok), Eli is not hurting for targets (even Bear Pacoe caught a TD in the NFC Championship game).
Speaking of Nicks and Cruz, they’re going to have to get paid soon too. At 6’0, 210 lbs, Hakeem Nicks is a beast. He also has giant hands, and is probably the most talented receiver on the team. Cruz came almost completely out of nowhere to show some of the best speed in the league, and tremendous durability and “clutchness.” He was being talked about as one of the best slot receivers in the league last year. If I’m the Giants, I’m saving up my pennies to pay off the two stars, and letting Manningham walk. He is not a make-or-break player. If his asking price is too high, by all means let the man go. Third receivers are not that hard to replace. The Giants were criticized last season when they let Steve Smith walk. They replaced him with Victor Cruz. Then they won a Super Bowl.
I don’t think it’s fair to Manningham if he comes back just to be loyal to his team, either. With his performance in the playoffs last year, he has earned himself a payday of sorts. There are teams out there that need help at receiver, and he’d be perfect for them because he’s a great complimentary wide receiver. He makes a receiving corps stronger and is great at taking advantage of situations when he’s not the defense’s main priority. Could he be a number one somewhere? As Giants fans, we haven’t really seen that in him, but he’s also never had a real opportunity. Another team will undoubtedly take that chance on him, and he should take it.
The Giants already have other options at wide receiver if Mario walks. Ramses Barden, who has played sparingly behind quality receivers the last three seasons, is 6’6″. If he even has hands, I love him already. Remember how effective Plaxico Burris was for the Giants in 2007? Tall wide receivers are where it’s at, and Barden is one of the tallest in the league. If the Giants prefer a speed option to replace Manningham, there’s always second year player Jerrel Jernigan. Although Jernigan is only 5’9″, he could be a great slot receiver if they decide to move Victor Cruz out wide, or just a solid possession receiver. They could even mix in both of those guys, sign someone this off-season or pick a third receiver in the middle rounds of April’s draft.
For those of you who think I’m cold-hearted for so nonchalantly dismissing Manningham from the team, rest assured that I will never forget his performance in the playoffs last season, or his incredible Super Bowl catch. However, one catch does not a player make, or David Tyree would be a billionaire. We’ll miss you Mario. You’ll get your standing ovation next time your new team plays the Giants… I just hope he doesn’t sign with the Eagles. Also, if he could go wherever Peyton Manning ends up that would be cool. My friends and I would like to continue using the phrase “Manning to Manningham!”
Just for fun
Feature image courtesy of: John Tlumacki/Globe Staff Photo
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