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Manningham says he wants to stay, but...

3/6/2012

It's a line right out of the free-agent playbook. Mario Manningham says he wants to stay with the New York Giants. Per Ohm:

"I don’t want to go nowhere," Manningham said. "But if it is somewhere else, that is where my path continues. I want to come back. I can't wait to see what is going on, am I going to be here or not. I want to be here."

Sure, but he doesn't mean that. Because staying with the Giants would mean making a heck of a lot less money than he will make if he takes his talents to the open free-agent market and sells them to the highest bidder. And that matters, folks. In a league built on non-guaranteed contracts in which you're one freak injury away from never playing again, you get what you get when you can get it. And for Manningham, this is when he can get it.

This is a partial list of teams that are looking for starting-caliber wide receivers this offseason:

Washington Redskins

Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

St. Louis Rams

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Buffalo Bills

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

IndianapolisColts

Denver Broncos

San Diego Chargers

And here's a list of the available, non-franchised free-agent wide receivers who probably rank ahead of Manningham:

Vincent Jackson

Marques Colston

Mike Wallace

Reggie Wayne

Brandon Lloyd

Get the picture? Yeah, first list is a heck of a lot longer than the second list. That means, unless Jackson can figure out a way to clone himself and sign with 11 teams, there are still going to be a lot of teams looking for starting-caliber wide receivers once the top guys sign. Manningham is right there in that next group with guys like Pierre Garcon, Robert Meachem, Braylon Edwards ... guys like that. And he has the advantage of just having played big in the playoffs and the Super Bowl, which ups a guy's value.

Manningham is positioned to cash in — to sign with a team for No. 2 wide receiver money — maybe even for a little bit more than that. The Giants have Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz and no room under the salary cap, and they're not about to pay Manningham No. 2 wide receiver money to stay. If he'd like to stay for No. 3 wide receiver money, I'm sure they'd be happy to talk to him about it. But that wouldn't be the shrewdest career move on Manningham's part.

So, while it's nice that he's saying what he's saying about wanting to stay with the Giants, Manningham doesn't really mean it. It just wouldn't make sense.