Before bolting for the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent two seasons ago in the hopes of finding a starting, and starring role, wide receiver Mario Manningham was an explosive No. 3 wide receiver for the New York Giants.
Over the past two seasons the Giants have missed the explosive play-making ability Manningham brought to the table. They never settled on a No. 3 receiver in 2012. In 2014 they brought in Louis Murphy in hopes he would become the deep threat Manningham had once been for them. That didn't come close to panning out.
So, how about replacing Manningham ... with Manningham?
The 27-year-old will be a free agent next month and after two disappointing, injury-plagued seasons in San Francisco the 49ers are not expected to try and retain him. Is there a place for Manningham back in East Rutherford with the Giants?
First, let's realize that Manningham might not be the same big-play threat he was for the Giants from 2009-2011 when he caught 156 regular-season passes. He tore his right ACL and PCL 12 games into the 2012 season for the 49ers and played only six games in 2013, eventually ending up on IR as his knee issues lingered. He caught 42 passes in 2012 and only nine in 2013. In his time with the Giants, Manningham averaged 14.5 yards per catch. With the 49ers, he averaged only 10.5.
With all of that in mind, it is certainly fair to wonder how much the 2008 third-round pick has left. Reports have indicated that Manningham "is doing well and will definitely be ready for the offseason program." That, of course, does not mean he still maintains the game-breaking ability he had with the Giants.
Is it worth the risk for the Giants to find out what Manningham can still do? In a recent breakdown of Carolina Panthers WR/KR Ted Ginn as a potential free-agent target, I broached the idea of looking at Ginn not as a replacement for Hakeem Nicks, but as a replacement for the unproductive Murphy, who caught just six passes in 2013.
If you apply the same standard to Manningham, and consider that his health issues make it likely he could be had on a one-year deal at or near the NFL minimum salary, he might be worth the risk. At the least, the fact that he has worked and been successful with quarterback Eli Manning has to be a plus.
Your thoughts, Giants' fans?