Report: Mario '75 percent' sure he's leaving

February, 26, 2012
2/26/12
1:59
PM ET



General manager Jerry Reese refused to put any odds on whether Mario Manningham will return to the Giants.

But the unrestricted free agent wide receiver gave his odds and, as expected, there is a slim chance he will stay.

In an interview with The Vindicator of Youngstown, Ohio, Manningham said he is "75 percent" sure he will sign with another team in free agency. Manningham is coming off his big fourth-quarter performance in the Super Bowl and is not only looking to cash in but will be looking for a bigger role as well.

According to a report by CBSSports.com, Manningham has his eyes on joining former Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan in Tampa Bay. Sullivan is now the Buccaneers' offensive coordinator.

Manningham -- who was presented a key to his hometown, Warren, Ohio -- said that there were many benefits of playing with a top-notch quarterback like Eli Manning. But Manningham added that he would like a bigger role and more targets.

“He is, but there are a lot of good quarterbacks in this league,” Manningham said in The Vindicator interview. “I just want the ball more, that’s all.”

Manningham is one of 21 unrestricted free agents. The Giants are going to have to do some maneuvering to create cap flexibility as well. Considering that the Giants have Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz and will eventually have to pay those two down the road, Reese is likely not going to make a significant offer to the team's third wide receiver, who finished with 39 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns in 12 regular-season games this past season. However, Manningham did catch three touchdowns in the postseason and had five receptions for 73 yards against the Patriots, including his sensational 38-yard fourth-quarter catch.

When asked on Saturday if negotiations with Manningham are not going well, Reese replied, "it’s free agency."

"March 13, that’s free-agent time and guys are free to do what they want to do," the general manager said. "Again, he’s been a good player for us, we’ll see where we are when we know exactly what the cap number is and hopefully things will work out for us."

Reese refused to put any odds on the chances of Manningham returning.

"I don’t think it’s fair to frame the odds on that," Reese said. "He’s a good football player and obviously players, when free agency comes around for them, they want to make as much money as possible. So we’ll see how it unfolds. But he is a good football player and we’re glad he’s been a Giant for us and his contributions are outstanding for us. We’ll see what happens moving forward with respect to that."

During their pressers at the Scouting Combine last week, both Tom Coughlin and Reese talked about Jerrel Jernigan, last year's third-round pick, being a young player who may have an opportunity to make a jump this coming season.

Ramses Barden also is in the mix at the third receiver spot if Manningham leaves as many expect.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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