Should the Giants keep Mario Manningham?
GIANTS SHOULD MAKE IT WORK
The Giants have a lot of very difficult decisions to make in the wake of their Super Bowl championship. And with free agency swiftly approaching, Big Blue will not be able to keep all the pieces, with underpaid players such as Victor Cruz needing raises.
With 21 unrestricted free agents, hard choices are going to need to be made, and wide receiver Mario Manningham has gone on record saying that he thinks the odds are slim that the Giants will keep him.
But not so fast.
Chemistry is a difficult mix, and as many teams that cheaply swapped one receiver for another have found, sometimes it's hard to replace.
Manningham is the longest-tenured Giants receiver who was healthy this season. He didn't come on like Cruz and he isn't big like Hakeem Nicks, but Manningham is a stable and reliable player who came up big in key moments this season. He had three postseason touchdowns in addition to his regular-season numbers, 39 catches for 523 yards in 12 games.
On paper, sure, he's replaceable. So was Braylon Edwards, but across town, the Jets found out the hard way that playing musical chairs with your wide receivers can have unintended consequences.
The Giants shouldn't be rash here. Contracts can be reworked, particularly if Manningham still wants to remain part of the championship team, as he stated in the wake of the win.
The Giants have had a difficult time keeping their receiving corps healthy, and the replacement pieces haven't always lived up to the billing.
Manningham is a reliable cog with big-game ability, and the Giants shouldn't discount that so easily.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
In a perfect world, the New York Giants would have a ton of cap space and be able to bring back the majority of their roster to defend their Super Bowl championship.
But general manager Jerry Reese has said he will have very difficult decisions to make and that this team will change.
One of the changes likely will be the departure of Mario Manningham. The unrestricted free-agent receiver wants to cash in on a stellar postseason and wants a bigger role -- two things the Giants cannot give him.
Manningham is a luxury for the Giants. He's the team's third receiver behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, and the Giants, who are going to be cap-strapped, have bigger priorities.
Manningham is a terrific third option for Eli Manning when Nicks and Cruz are drawing defensive attention. But the receiver views himself as much more than that, and another team likely will as well.
He is capable of making sensationally difficult catches, such as his NFC Championship Game touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against San Francisco and his 38-yard fourth-quarter catch against the Patriots that is now part of Giants Super Bowl lore.
But Manningham also is capable of dropping balls and failing to haul in a touchdown pass, like he did against San Francisco during the regular season, and fading out of bounds on a deep route, like he did in the Super Bowl on the fourth-quarter drive before his big catch.
Reese has to make decisions on Brandon Jacobs' and Osi Umenyiora's contracts, and has to restructure a few deals. Eventually, he also has to pay guys such as Nicks, Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka in the future.
The Giants can't afford to pay Manningham big bucks to be their third receiver. So say thank you to Mario for helping the Giants win a Super Bowl and hope Manning can develop another unproven receiver into a big-time contributor.