Indianapolis Colts: Will Peyton Manning Contract Destroy the Future of the Colts

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Indianapolis Colts: Will Peyton Manning Contract Destroy the Future of the Colts
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There are three things in this life that are certain:

1 - Death.

2 - Taxes.

3 - Peyton Manning will be the highest paid player in the NFL.

Anyone that does not agree with this statement, PLEASE tell me (in the comments) why I am wrong.

When Peyton Manning was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, he was seen as the savior of the franchise. And it was hard not to do so.

The Colts were the laughingstock of the NFL. Since moving to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts were not exactly one of the "elite" teams in the NFL. Only five times, from 1984 until 1997 did the Colts have a winning record. The most wins they had in a single season was nine.

With the arrival of Peyton Manning, the Colts' fortune turned around after a single poor season, and then Indianapolis went on to have 11 of 12 seasons with at least 10 wins. Only one time since Manning's rookie season have the Colts not won 10 games, and that was in 2001.

The Colts have made the playoffs every year since.

Most of that has to do with Manning.

The reality is, Manning is going to be historically remembered as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. He is a coach on the field, he is the heartbeat of the Colts and Colts fans can look at Manning and accept that the reason they have enjoyed football for over a decade is because Manning is their QB.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

That being said, with the expiration of his contract, the Indianapolis Colts placed the franchise tag on Manning, guaranteeing him, if he signs the tender, a one-year, $23 million deal.

Colts fans are quick to say he is worth every penny. Fine; I can live with that. The reality is he is going to get a new contract, so that is probably not even going to be signed.

Just prior to the 2010 NFL season, the New England Patriots signed Tom Brady (the only person on the planet that can currently be compared to Manning) to a four-year, $72 million contract.

You would think that as long as Manning gets a better contract than Brady, it would be good, right? Wrong.

The Colts and Manning have stated that the contract given to Brady was simply the STARTING point for Manning. That means, what Brady finally agreed to is what the Colts had to START with to begin negotiations.

Manning has always been paid by the Colts as the best player when the contract was signed. When drafted in 1998, the Colts gave Manning more than the customary contract given to the top player selected, because there was talk that the Chargers were going to pay Ryan Leaf more than the Colts were going to pay Manning.

Refusing to risk that, the Colts gave Manning a six-year, $48 million contract. This is the year that contracts given to players taken at the top of the draft started going crazy.

Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

At the conclusion of his rookie contract in 2004, Manning had just won his second NFL MVP award. As a free agent, the Colts used the exclusive rights franchise tag, guaranteeing Manning would not even be able to speak with other teams.

The Colts then signed Manning to a record (at that time) seven-year, $99.2 million deal, with $34.5 million guaranteed (also the largest ever at that time).

Since the Patriots have given Brady a four-year contract, odds are the Colts are going to give Manning one for at least one more season, making his deal for five years. Since Brady has a contract number of $18 million per year average, Manning is probably going to be getting about $21 million per year.

That means Manning's contract is going to be around five years, $105 million.

I am not going to sit here and debate what has happened, because as I stated, the record books show Manning as one of the greatest ever. My debate is: Is Manning really worth that kind of money TODAY?

In the NFL, at least in most cases, players are not paid for past performance, but for what the player can do for the team in the future. Not in this case.

Manning has been paid very well by the Colts to this point of his career. Both times he has signed a contract, it has been record breaking. He has played as the best, and been paid accordingly.

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With the new Manning contract, he will be paid as the best in the league, even though he has officially started the downside of his career.

Manning will be turning 35 this month, and most QBs don't last as long as Manning already has. Colts fans are quick to point out that Manning does not get hit like most other QBs do.

Detractors will say that his play in 2010 was the beginning of the decline we see every QB go through at the end of his career.

Either way, it is impossible to believe that Manning will not eventually start to break down. If not in 2010, maybe next year, or 2012 or even 2013, odds are, Manning is going to start the decline.

How will this hamper the Colts?

With a contract valued at an average of $21 million per year, the Colts are not going to be drafting someone like the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers a few years back. If your starting QB is making that much money, the Colts will not be able to afford to pay another first round QB the kind of money it would be required.

Not to mention, what would the locker room in Indy be if the Colts drafted a QB in the first round?

As great as he has been, at some point, the Colts are going to have to start preparing for life after Manning. With a $105 million commitment, will they be able to survive until the end of this contract? Or will they crash back to where they were before Manning was drafted?

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