It was an easy promise for Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to make during the glorious uncapped year that was 2010.
Now, though, the new labor deal in the NFL imposes a roughly $120 million cap for each team and that makes keeping premier players like Manning trickier. Irsay cautions that a deal can’t break the Colts’ bank.
“To me, this isn’t about how much money I have to spend,” Irsay said. “The money is going to be spent and we’re already up against the cap and we already have to do something to make adjustments. . . .
“I’ve offered to make him the highest-paid player. We know when we look at our team, we need people to surround him to have a chance to win a Super Bowl. With the cap actually going down this year, [Tom] Brady’s contract is something that would be reduced, so-to-speak. There’s only so much you can pay one player. Whatever the number is, $20 million, you’re topping off there. Then it becomes very difficult to be competitive and to field a team.”
Sounds like a ruh-roh situation. (Also sounds like a fire-up-Redskins-one situation.)
“To me, I hope we get something done in the next couple of days. We’ve been ready and I’ve been ready. It’s really important that we get the deal done so we plan going forward, not only cap-wise, but competitive-wise. It’s something I hope gets done quickly and quite frankly, it is should get done quickly. He is going to be the highest- paid player and he is going to make more than Brady. At the same time, under the system, you cannot pay a player $25 million dollars. It’s just not going to work and you’re not going to be able to compete. We have to get something done and I look forward to doing that. I’ve had a conversation with [Manning’s agent] Tom Condon and we’ve talked in the last couple of days. [Colts owner] Bill Polian and him will process in the next days to come. It’s something that we need to get done.”
Because he underwent neck surgery in May and hasn’t been able to rehab with the Colts’ staff during the lockout, Manning isn’t expected to be ready when training camp opens. His only comment Monday was on the end of the lockout and his name being on that Brady vs. NFL lawsuit that should be settled shortly.
“I want to get back to work,” Manning said in a statement. “My objectives were two-fold when joining the group of named plaintiffs in the labor-related lawsuit. First, to show unified strength on behalf of benefiting all players; second, to see a resolution that recognizes the interests of players and management. I believe both objectives have been achieved.
“As a fan of the game, I'm pleased the two sides have reached a deal and, as a professional, I want to get back to work.”