The Colts entered this offseason with one goal in mind, to make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in the NFL. They will enter the new season having failed in this mission, and having done so, put themselves back into SuperBowl contention.
You see, while the Colts wanted Manning to be the first NFL player to average $20 million a year by offering him a five-year, $100 million proposal that was heavily back-loaded in the final two years, Manning wanted more than money. He wanted a team around him so he countered with an offer that wasn't quite so drastic, a 5 year deal worth $90 million.
"While I appreciate Jim Irsay offering to make me the highest-paid player," Manning told The Indianapolis Star, "I told him I'd rather he save that money and keep whoever it is … (running back) Joe Adda, (left tackle) Charlie Johnson… whoever that may be. I'm willing to take less than they've offered if they are going to take that money to keep players we need to keep and go get other players. All I want is for them to have the cap and the cash to keep the players they want to keep and to sign other players."
Giving back money is a rare thing for an athlete, especially to this degree, but before you go signing up Peyton for humanitarian of the year of something of the like, realize that he will still be making $18 million a year. That's the exact same amount as contemporary Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
"Signing Peyton was a top priority for this organization and we are thrilled that the deal is complete," Irsay said in a statement released by the team Saturday. "We feel that it is a salary cap friendly deal and it allows us more flexibility."
Now that the NFL is back and the Colts have Manning under lock and key, the only uncertainty remaining is when they will get their franchise quarterback back on the field. Manning underwent neck surgery in May and is still presumed to be weeks away from getting back on the field, a time-frame that could keep him off the field for the season opener.
The Colts, for their part, have every confidence in their quarterback, on and off the field.
"Like a professional, like he always does, in a first-class manner, work harder than any man on the planet to get himself ready faster than anybody, (but) he's not ready right now," coach Jim Caldwell said. "Nobody works any harder, nobody is more diligent, more dedicated and he certainly has great faith in our staff that works with him here and at some point in time he'll be ready to go and when that is, we'll turn him loose."
For the Colts, and for Manning, that time can't come soon enough.
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