A move that was expected to happen was finally handed down as the Indianapolis Colts made it official today. They will use their franchise tag on All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning, which guarantees he will return for the 2011-12 season.
The tag gives Manning a base salary of 120 percent of his pay this year, which leaves the Colts' signal-caller with a cool $23 million salary for the upcoming season.
It is the second time in his career the franchise tag has been used on Manning. The first came in 2004, which led to a new seven-year, $98 million deal that expired this offseason.
Manning is expected to become the highest paid player in the league in the near future, but with the uncertain labor situation on the horizon, the Colts weren’t looking to get the record deal in place between player and team before a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is reached.
Since it looks like Manning is soon to be a Colt for life, it feels like a good time to take a look back at the career of the future Hall-of-Famer and try to pinpoint the 10 best accomplishments of his storied NFL career thus far.
This might have taken more work than Manning ever had to do, and it never had anything to do with his play on the field.
Everyone knew he was a special talent on the field, but being a workaholic wasn't very marketable off of it.
As one of the best (if not the best) players in the league, Manning had to find a way to connect with the fans.
He ended up doing so with a series of commercials that showed fans his funny side and made him more popular.
It may not have anything to do with his play, but this is a huge step to create the personality of the Peyton Manning we all know today.
Sept. 6, 1998
This is where it all began, as Peyton Manning hooked up with Marvin Harrison for the first time in their respective careers.
It was Manning’s first touchdown pass as a pro, and it started a record-breaking duo that wouldn’t be stopped for years to come.
The irony could not get any greater even if you tried to write this storyline yourself.
Peyton Manning’s first career win came over the San Diego Chargers and quarterback Ryan Leaf, the player who went No. 2 overall behind Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft.
This result sure was fitting, as it symbolized what was to become of their two NFL careers.
Manning would go on to be one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, while Leaf would turn into one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
Jan. 11, 2004
It was already established at this point in his career that Peyton Manning was going to become a very special player in the history of the league.
For some reason though, his regular season success could not translate to the playoffs, and he continued to watch his team get bounced from the postseason each year.
The critics be damned after this game when Manning took over, going 22-of-30 for 304 yards and three touchdowns over the heavily-favored Kansas City Chiefs squad.
Jan. 4, 2004
The only thing better than Manning's first playoff road win was his first career postseason win.
He was 0-for-3 in playoff games in his first few tries, and he made sure the critics knew he was capable of winning a playoff game this time around.
Manning threw all over the Denver Broncos, ending the day with 377 passing yards and five touchdowns en route to a 41-10 blowout win, still the most lopsided playoff victory in Colts history.
Dec. 26, 2004
The record was nice, but the win was even better.
Manning continued to rewrite the record books with his 49th touchdown pass of the season, as he rallied his team from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers and led them on a 61-yard drive for the victory in overtime.
His record touchdown pass was hauled in by Brandon Stokley, and it put his name ahead of Dan Marino's for most touchdown passes in a single season.
Jan. 21, 2007
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will always be linked together throughout NFL history.
In this case, Manning will be on top of Brady no matter what anyone wants to say or argue.
Manning led his team to a 38-34 win in the 2007 AFC Championship game, overcoming a 15-point deficit the Colts faced after halftime.
The win was so big because it propelled the Colts to their first Super Bowl win just two weeks later, but it also showed Manning was capable of taking down Brady on the biggest of stages.
In case you didn't realize it already, Peyton Manning is one of the best players ever to play the game. He also has done things other players only dream about doing, like winning the MVP award for his play during the regular season.
To up the ante, Manning didn't just win the award once or even twice, he has taken home the NFL MVP award a record-setting four times.
Brady may be the man with the rings, but Manning certainly has a bunch of important trophies to crowd his mantle.
Peyton Manning threw for 4,700 yards during the 2010 NFL season, a number that didn't shock many when the year was said and done.
What made it so special was the fact that this year marked the 11th time in his career that Manning has eclipsed 4,000 passing yards in a season, another NFL record.
This record is so great because it illustrates the dominance he has had over the league for over the past decade.
Feb. 4, 2007
Manning finally reached the top of the football world with his first, and only, Super Bowl win at this point of his career.
He finally got over the hump many thought he would never reach in Super Bowl XLI and took his place atop the football world.
Although Manning didn't put up huge numbers (247 yards, one touchdown), he didn't need to, as his team rallied around him to get the win.
With that, he was finally able to add "Super Bowl champion" to his already impressive resume.