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Eli Manning doesn't want the NFL's biggest contract, except he kind of does

Eli Manning may have never said he wants to be the NFL's highest-paid player, but the numbers he needs to ask for happen to be more than any NFL player is making.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning insists that he never asked to be the NFL's highest-paid player. He recently told reporters that "it's never come out of [his] mouth." And reporters agree. Manning never exactly said he wanted to be the richest NFL player, he only asked that he receive a competitive contract for the market.

Such a contract would just happen to make him the NFL's highest-paid player.

The salary cap is rising fast and contract amounts are rising with it. According to the New York Daily News, while Manning isn't specifically asking to be NFL's richest, he is asking for a contract similar to the ones recently given to Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.

Roethlisberger received a four-year extension in March worth $87.4 million and $31 million guaranteed, while Rivers signed a similar four-year extension worth $83.25 million with $65 million guaranteed.

With those numbers given to quarterbacks in similar situations to Manning, it stands to reason that he should expect to receive a contract with about $65 million guaranteed and at least $21 million per year.

Whether he's worth more than Roethlisberger or Rivers can be debated, but it doesn't really matter. He's a two-time Super Bowl MVP and still only 34, so the Giants want to keep him around. And that means the team has to pay what the market says to pay.

Rivers now leads the NFL in guaranteed money at $65 million, while Aaron Rodgers still gets the nod for most money annually at an average of $22 million per season. Roethlisberger's $21.85 million came just shy and Russell Wilson's new contract from July pays him $21.9 million per year.

Unless Manning wants to end up making far less than Rodgers, Wilson, Roethlisberger or Rivers, he has to ask for more. That's how negotiations work. And more would just happen to make Manning the highest-paid player in the NFL.

No player wants to look greedy, and asking to be the NFL's highest-paid typically comes with the assumption that the player asking thinks of himself as the NFL's most valuable. While Manning has a strong résumé after 11 NFL seasons, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks he's the best player in football. But that doesn't matter and that's not what asking to make more than any other player actually means.

While Manning may have never explicitly said "I want to be the highest-paid NFL player," the numbers he simply has to ask for happen to be more than any other player is making.

And then it will be Andrew Luck's turn to ask for more than Manning.