Peyton Manning’s next contract to be around $90 million?

This just in: NFL owners are insane.

According to NFL Network’s Albert Breer, the parameters of the five-year, $90 million contract that Peyton Manning signed last year with the Colts are serving as the “starting point for negotiations on his next deal.”

Let’s push the rewind button for a second. This is the same Manning that is coming off four neck surgeries and may not be able to withstand one more hit in the NFL, nevertheless countless hits over the next five years.

Seeing as how he makes the league more competitive and fun to watch, I’m pulling for him to rebound and be the same player he was before. But the fact remains that until he gets on that field again, he’s the ultimate risk. I’ve spoken with former athletes who have dealt with similar nerve damage and they were never the same following surgery. They would throw a ball as hard as they could only to have their entire arm go numb for the next 20 minutes. And while Manning might not suffer through the same misfortunate, who knows where he’ll be in September when he starts taking hits from 290-pound defensive ends.

Whichever team signs him will sell a lot of Manning No. 18 jerseys, or at least that’s what these owners are probably thinking. And considering he has multiple teams interested in his services, there’s no reason for Peyton not to ask for big money and play it off like 2011 was a complete aberration. If teams are willing to pay, good for him and his representatives for making them pony up to see which cards he’s holding.

But $18 million a season for the next five years? Yikes. Obviously we have no idea how the final contract will be structured and the total number could be much less than $90 million. In fact, the Denver Post reports that the Broncos’ offer is for $60 million, with $30 million guaranteed.

That said, $60 million is still a ton of money for a team to be investing in, for all intents and purposes, a complete unknown. Peyton isn’t going to take a $5 million “show me deal,” nor should he. But unless that $90 million turns out to be an incentive-laden deal (which is unlikely), then whichever team lands him might as well start holding its breath the minute he signs on the dotted line. Because they don’t quite know what they’re getting for their money and one workout at Duke isn’t going to tell them either.

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At this point, a separation might be good for both Manning and the Colts

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) runs from the field against the Kansas City Chiefs at a time out during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Indianapolis October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Based on some of the comments coming out of Indianapolis these days, it would appear as though Peyton Manning’s career with the Colts is coming to an end.

Such as life. Times change, people separate, memories fade. Why should sports be any different?

According to ESPN NFL Business Analyst Andrew Brandt, it would cost the Colts $50.5 million to keep Manning and Andrew Luck on the same roster in 2012. Manning’s option is $28 million in addition to a $7.4 million salary while the No. 1 overall pick will receive approximately $15.1 million in bonus plus salary in 2012. Thus, it doesn’t make sense financially for the Colts to pay Manning and draft Luck while trying to fill holes all over a depleted roster.

It doesn’t make sense from a risk/reward standpoint either. Manning is 35 and is still trying to recover from neck surgery that he had last May. I’m not a doctor but when you listen to other athletes talk about the same nerve damage that Manning has, it’s feasible that he could have complications the rest of his career. That’s why there’s still plenty of speculation about whether or not he’ll ever play again.

I’m not trying to be cold because I’m very aware of what Manning has meant to the Colts franchise over these past 14 seasons. But former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said it best when he stated that he would rather be accused of getting rid of a player a year too early rather than a year too late. This is a business decision and the right business decision for the Colts is to part ways with Manning and draft their future signal caller while they have that chance. There are teams like the Browns, Dolphins, Bills and Redskins who continuously fail to address their quarterback situation and the Colts have a golden opportunity to replace one franchise signal caller with another in just one fell swoop. Cold? Probably. But smart? Definitely.

Let’s not overlook the fact that this could be a good thing for Manning as well. During John Elway’s final years he essentially took a backseat to Terrell Davis because the Broncos became Davis’ team. He won two Super Bowls handing the ball off to Davis and throwing when he had to, but Manning doesn’t have that same fortune. The Colts proved last year that they’re a serious rebuilding project. At this point in his career, Manning shouldn’t be at the helm of a rebuilding team: he should be trying to take one more shot at winning a Super Bowl just like Elway did. (Assuming of course that Manning is healthy enough to ever pick up a football again.)

In a perfect world the Colts would already have Manning’s replacement on their roster. But they don’t, and now this is the situation that they find themselves in. Separations are never easy and if the Colts do decide to move on from Manning, it will be a hard decision. But it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Times change, people separate, memories fade. That’s just life.

How does the NFL expect teams like the Rams and Lions to compete?

St. Louis Rams newest member, quarterback Sam Bradford, holds up his jersey with head coach Steve Spagnuolo (L) and general manager Billy Devaney as he is introduced to reporters at Rams Park in Earth City, Missouri on April 23, 2010, one day after being selected No. 1 in the first round of the NFL. Bradford played his college football at Oklahoma. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Quick math question to start your Saturday morning: If Sam Bradford is worth $50 million guaranteed, then how much should Peyton Manning make?

I know it’s a tough question, so I’ll throw out some facts to better assist you while you think:

Peyton Manning:

– 50,128 career passing yards
– 366 career passing touchdowns
– 95.2 career passer rating
– 2 Super Bowl appearances, 1 championship

Sam Bradford:

– Went to Oklahoma

Look, nobody blames Bradford for cashing in (six years, $78 million). It’s not like any of us would have said, “You know what, Rams? I haven’t proven anything yet, so to be fair why don’t I just accept a modest starting salary of $40,000-a-year plus dental?”

The system is broken in the NFL and it’s one of the many things that the NFLPA and owners need to resolve before signing a new collective bargaining agreement (assuming they do sign one, of course) in the next couple of months/year. And it’s not just a Bradford vs. Manning financial thing, either.

How can the league expect a team like the Lions to field a competitive roster when they gave quarterback Matthew Stafford over $41 million in guarantees last year and they still have to sign No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh this year? Last year, the Rams signed offensive tackle Jason Smith (the No. 2 overall pick) to a $61.775 million contract worth $33 million in guarantees. Between Bradford and Smith, the Rams now have $83 million in guaranteed money wrapped up in two players.

And they don’t even know if Bradford and Smith can play yet.

Again, how does the league expect teams like the Lions and Rams to compete with the likes of the Colts and Saints when they have to break the bank for unproven players? What happens when Calvin Johnson (a player the Lions actually know can play) needs a new deal in two years? Will the Lions be able to sign him? What if they can’t? They let one of their best players go because they have all of their money tied up into high draft picks?

Talk about a vicious cycle – it needs to end.

Talks between Colts, Manning going slowly

Feb. 07, 2010 - Miami Gardens, Florida, USA - PEYTON MANNING direct his offense in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium.

While catching the Red Sox-Orioles game on Saturday night, Colts’ president Bill Polian admitted that contract talks between the team and quarterback Peyton Manning are going slowly because of the uncertainty of the new CBA deal.

From WEEI.com:

“It’s bound to have some effect,” Polian told WEEI.com. “What we don’t know is what the system is going forward. It makes it really difficult working out a deal that makes sense for everybody because you don’t know what the [salary] cap will be, what the ramifications are, how things count. All of that makes it a little difficult. We’ve been going slowly along with [Manning’s agent] Tom Condon because we’re trying to formulate some things that will fit no matter what the system is.”

Signing Manning to a new contract is only a matter of time for the Colts, much like the owners and NFLPA agreeing on a new CBA deal. It appears as if one won’t happen until the other gets done, but they both will happen.

But what’s interesting is the potential domino effect that will transpire once the new CBA deal is signed. Manning would probably be the first to get a new deal and it’ll likely be the biggest contract in NFL history. Then the Patriots, in typical Patriot fashion, will wait until the parameters of Manning’s deal are in place so that they can give slightly less to Tom Brady, who is also playing in the final year of his contract. Then, once Tom Terrific is signed, Donovan McNabb can get the contract extension that he’s seeking from the Redskins.

Once all of that happens and the entire state of Alaska melts, I’ll finally get my millions. I’ve put together a diagram below to show the sequence of events that I just wrote about, just in case things were a little confusing above.

New CBA Deal
|
Peyton Manning
|
Tom Brady
|
Donovan McNabb
|
Alaska Melts
|
Me

It’s science.

The Colts have a potential mess on their hands regarding Wayne

Peyton Manning needs a new contract, as do 18 other Colts players that are set to become free agents in 2011.

Reggie Wayne doesn’t need a new contract, but he wants one. He’s also willing to skip the team’s mandatory three-day mini-camp this weekend in order to show the Colts that he’s unhappy with his current deal.

Wayne has two years remaining on the six-year, $39 million contract he signed in 2006. He’s making less than $6 million per season, which is where the root of the issue comes in. Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Randy Moss – three players that Wayne outperformed last year – are just some of the receivers that are making more than Indy’s star receiver. Those three are all making $9 million a year, while four other receivers had multiyear contracts in 2009 that reached more than $8 million annually.

The problem is that the Colts’ main focus (and rightfully so) is on Manning. The quarterback that has led them to two Super Bowls over the past five years needs a new deal to help him finish out his career in Indianapolis and the Colts have made re-signing him priority No. 1 on their to-do list.

No matter how good they may be, the Colts’ front office doesn’t make it a habit of re-working players’ contracts that still have two years remaining on them. Wayne may be one of the team’s most productive players, but Manning, Joseph Addai, Antonie Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Clint Session and Adam Vinatieri all need new deals when 2010 wraps up. Wayne is set through 2011.

There’s no doubt that Wayne is underpaid. But the Colts’ hands are tied at the moment until Manning gets his new deal and they have a plan in place to retain the other potential free agents. He may have to show some patience and have faith that the team will re-work his deal after the season. That said, if he continues to hold out through training camp, he may force the Colts into a making a decision that they didn’t think they’d have to make for another year or so.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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