Colts face tough personnel decisions following 2010 season

Ever since Peyton Manning’s second year in the league, NFL fans have just grown accustomed to the Colts being in the playoffs every season. Manning is, and will be until he retires, the catalyst for the horseshoe helmet’s success.

But as the Indianapolis Star points out, Jim Irsay and Bill Polian will be faced with several tough decisions after the 2010 season because the Colts will have 19 players seeking new contracts. There’s no doubt that the team will make sure Manning retires a Colt, but will his contract impede Irsay from signing other free agents?

That might be a reference to the size of Manning’s signing bonus. It undoubtedly will surpass the $34.5 million bonus he received as part of his seven-year, $98 million contract in 2004.

Funneling too much up-front money to Manning, though, could make retaining other critical players difficult.

“We have to be wise in that we don’t corner ourselves and make sure we have room to keep some of the key guys,” Irsay said. “It’s a myth to say you can just have Peyton and you’re automatically 12-4.

“Peyton gives you such an edge . . . but we need the supporting cast if we want to do what we really want to do, and that’s win another world championship.”

As long as Manning remains under center, the Colts will always be competitive. But as Irsay points out, he needs to be able to field a competitive team around his quarterback if the franchise wants to win another Super Bowl before Manning hangs up his cleats. Aside from Peyton, several key starters including Joseph Addai, Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Clint Session and Adam Vinatieri (among others) will need new deals. The Colts can’t bring everyone back, especially after they get done paying Manning.

It’s only May, so this is obviously not a problem that the Colts need to concern themselves with right now. But it’s worth noting that after this season, the Colts will have a ton of internal decisions to make – ones that will certainly affect the future success of the franchise.

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