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Keidel: Eli Manning Deserves That Big, Fat Extension — Now!

By Jason Keidel
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Like the Yankees, the Giants aren't keen on contract extensions while the current one is binding player to employer, always giving greater credence to the name on the front of the uniform.

But their corporate coda should take a back seat to common sense when it comes to their best and most important player -- Eli Manning.

Manning plays every snap of every game, is as reliable as the bad weather and biting wind that howls through the Meadowlands. And while Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton got robust extensions last year, and with Cam Newton signing an epic deal this week, it's time to open the vault for Eli.

What do the three aforementioned quarterbacks have in common? Beyond being considered the best NFL QBs under 30, they have combined for zero Super Bowl trophies. Kaepernick is the only one to reach a Super Bowl, but with Jim Harbaugh now working his wizardry at his alma mater, no one knows if the 49ers are about to plunge down the rungs of relevance.

Dalton is known as a regular-season stalwart who gets all bollixed in big games. Newton is all about upside, while his downside is the perception that he's a selfish player in the one place that begs selflessness.

It's not news that the quarterback is the most important position in football. Other than LeBron James, it's hard to find a more monolithic spot in sports. Imagine the Packers without Aaron Rodgers, the Patriots without Tom Brady, or my beloved black and gold without Big Ben.

And Manning has the hardware and hardihood to warrant a hard look at his next deal. He's too humble to require or even request an extension. But what do the Giants really gain by playing possum with their most heralded and decorated quarterback? Other than Lawrence Taylor, it's tough to ponder another player who has meant more or given more to Big Blue than Manning.

And while people childishly chided Manning for some recent, subpar seasons, ignoring the totality of the team's ineptitude, Manning was just fine last year -- tossing for 4,410 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions-- and he's about to enter his fourth year since his last title game, which is when he and the G-Men generally get the itch for another run under Tom Coughlin.

What separates the Giants from the Jets? Beyond the obvious stability in the front office and splendor on the field, the Giants don't panic. They don't cave to the whims of the media or the masses. When everyone was calling for Coughlin's vocational head -- including yours truly -- the Giants did the right thing by banking on the only coach with two NFL championships since 2008.

The Jets have had a fine offseason. Between the draft and their fine free agent signings, they're still sifting through the debris of yet another detonated GM/HC duo. And they have Geno Smith likely starting at quarterback.

The Giants have Eli Manning, which brings them much cachet, and should bring him much cash.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel

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