Peyton Manning Rumors: Jim Irsay Smart to Welcome Manning Back to Colts
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay may be a blustery buffoon at times, but he's certainly not a complete idiot.
That much is clear now that Irsay has publicly reached out to Peyton Manning, cautiously encouraging the Hall of Fame quarterback to finish out his career in the Circle City. As he told the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday,
“We can make it work if he wants to be here,’’ Irsay said today. “We’d be excited to have him back and finish his career with us."
“I want him to be able to make the choice. We would love to have him back here if he can get healthy and we can look at doing a contract that reflects the uncertainty of the . . . healing process with the regeneration of the nerve.’’
Will Peyton Manning be a Colt next season?
Notice the "if's" here, because they're rather big ones. Manning's neck has allegedly healed from the series of surgeries that forced him out of action for the entire 2011 season, though questions remain about the strength of and the nerves in the the triceps muscle on his throwing arm. Manning will have to prove that he can still throw the ball with accuracy and some zip before the Colts (or any other team, for that matter) can comfortably sacrifice a heap of resources for his sake.
The biggest hurdle to Manning staying in Indy remains a financial one—the $28 million bonus that he'll be owed and will kick in the final four years of his five-year, $90 million deal if he's still on the roster come March 8th. The cash-strapped Colts can ill afford to keep Manning at that number and bring in Andrew Luck (or Robert Griffin III) with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
From a football perspective, though, hanging onto Manning and restructuring his deal makes a ton of sense for the Colts. As NFL-ready as Andrew Luck and RG3 may be, both would be well served to spend at least a season or two learning the pro game from arguably the best to ever play the position, a la Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers.
Without Favre's dickishness, of course.
And from a PR perspective, Irsay's latest comments, however truthful, are entirely crucial to the franchise going forward. If Manning goes, Irsay will need the support of the faithful fans in Indy—fans who would feel alienated from their favorite team if the team were to alienate Manning—through what may well be a long and grueling rebuilding process.
But, if Manning stays, there may be no need for a string of terrible seasons before the Colts rise from the ashes.
Only a more-or-less seamless transition from one era to the next, with only a 2-14 bump in the road to suggest that anything went wrong.
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