"Congratulations, Eli," Cutler, the Chicago Bears new quarterback, said at the time. "He's a good guy. I think he deserves it."
Cutler might someday be in position for a big pay hike himself. Hailed as the Bears' best quarterback since Sid Luckman, Cutler gets to play in front of his new home crowd for the first time Saturday night.
That's when Manning and the Giants come to Soldier Field for Game 2 of the preseason.
Cutler went 5 of 10 for 64 yards with an interception — the Bills dropped another easy pick — in Chicago's 27-20 loss at Buffalo in the preseason opener, a disappointing start.
Chicago offensive coordinator Ron Turner said Cutler and his new teammates are still trying to get a feel for one another. The first team likely will play most of the first half.
"Everyone's saying, 'Hey Jay Cutler's here. All of a sudden we're going to be the greatest offense in the history of football; let's just roll the ball out and go play.' And when we went three-and-out, everyone's like, 'Whoa, what happened?'" Turner said.
"We're going to have games where you're going to struggle a little bit early, and it takes a little while to get in rhythm and get in sync."
Two of the team's top receivers, running back Matt Forte and tight end Greg Olsen, are expected to play against the Giants after sitting out last week.
"We've got to put drives together. We've got to get in the end zone. We've just got to execute this offense," Cutler said. "We've just got to go out there and do what we've been coached to do."
Playing in front of his new fans could be a boost, too.
The Giants have had little time to recuperate from a 24-17 victory over Carolina in their preseason opener Monday night. The team won the game on Tommie Hill's 18-yard fumble return as time expired.
Manning played two series against the Panthers, completing 2 of 3 passes for 31 yards. The first drive was slowed by a penalty and the second went for a touchdown.
Manning said the short stint between games should be no big deal, because there isn't any much game planning during exhibition season.
"We'll watch Chicago's last preseason game to see what they are doing, but we are going to run our base plays and what we like to do and try to put us in good position," Manning said. "If guys aren't going out there and making mental mistakes, you should be able to run the offense effectively."
Like the Bears, the Giants are looking for go-to receiver. Former kick returner Devin Hester is trying to fill that role in Chicago.
The Giants must replace veterans Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, who is headed to jail after pleading guilty to a weapons charge Thursday.
Steve Smith returned to practice this week after missing time with knee problem but may not play. Ramses Barden, a 6-foot-6 rookie, has been impressive at times during camp.