Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay says he wants his stud quarterback to become the highest paid player in the NFL. He will not let Peyton walk away from Indianapolis next year, no matter what the cost. On Monday Irsay reiterated that he fully intends to make Peyton Manning
the highest paid player in the NFL, even if it takes the prohibitive franchise tag to keep the only four time MVP in league history (and a threat for a fifth). During the Colts' first training camp practice Irsay had this to say: "The bottom line is we'll get something done, and when it happens, just depends. I said he'd be the highest paid player and he may already be if we go with the tag. I'd love to see him be here and break all those records as a Colt."
Of note, Irsay never has been shy to pay his best players top dollar. Irsay stated that Manning's agent Tom Condon and Team President Bill Polian have discussed a contract extension. The biggest obstacle so far has been the lack of a collective bargaining agreement. "It's not going to be easy because there's probably going to be something that goes back and captures something from the uncapped year," Irsay said, in reference to how this year's deals could effect future salary cap space. There is also no guarantee that a cap or franchise tag would be included in the next CBA, which is being negotiated.
Manning signed his current deal in 2004, a $98 million dollar deal. Sports Illustrated reports that there are seven additional Colts that have deals worth at least $27 million. Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne, Tight End Dallas Clark, Defensive Ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, Cornerback Kelvin Hayden and Safeties Bob Sanders and Antoine Bethea.
The 34 year old Manning already owns records which include a number of MVP awards, a Super Bowl ring, a Super Bowl MVP Award. Peyton is one of only four players to throw for more than 50,000 yards, and is third in all time career touchdown passes with 366. He holds all of the Colts' career passing records despite playing in 14 games fewer than the previous career leader, John Unitas.
Considering that QB Sam Bradford, the number 1 draft pick, who signed a six year $78 million deal with St. Louis of which $50 million is guaranteed has not even taken a pro snap yet, poses a potential challenge to Irsay signing Peyton. Will Irsay have to guarantee $55+ million, and something to the tune of $70 million for another four years? Is Peyton intending to play more than four more years?
The Colts may not be able to make an offer to Peyton until the CBA is dealt with, and Peyton's deal would need some financial flexibility, or imagination.
Peyton has helped the Colts several times through the years by redoing his deal to clear cap room so he could get some studly help on the field.