Peyton Manning Surgery: Did Colts Make Mistake by Signing Him to Monster Deal?

Kyle VassaloFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 30:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts shakes hands with team owner Jim Irsay during Media Day at Dolphin Stadium on January 30, 2007 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Colts didn't seem to do all of their homework before inking Peyton Manning to a five-year, $90 million deal. While he's one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, brought a ring to Indianapolis and has carried the franchise over the years, three neck surgeries in 19 months should have been a red flag.

Pro Football Talk reports that the Colts didn't even make Manning pass a physical. Either they knew the risks already and felt Manning was worthy of an extension regardless, or felt he would be fully recovered.

The latter seems to be the more likely scenario, as Manning's third procedure seems to come as a bit of a surprise to all parties involved. If the Colts would have known Manning was going to be out a significant amount of time in 2011, it makes no sense for them to sign him to a long-term deal this past offseason.

Franchising him, waiting around and seeing how his neck progresses seems to be a more logical approach to the situation. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but it does seem a bit odd that the Colts didn't hesitate showering Manning in money and putting themselves on the hook for a boatload of cash.

Just how much money are they actually on the hook for? In 2011, the Colts are obligated to fork out a measly $3.4 million base salary and an additional $3 million roster bonus. It's the $28 million option bonus next year that presents a problem.

That's serious dough to be throwing at a guy with question marks. Manning is an elite quarterback, but he's not worth $28 million on the bench. Things get tricky if Manning sits out for this season. How can the Colts justify making that investment on a 36-year-old coming off a year layoff?

Manning is one of a kind. He's a coach on the field, a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the greatest to ever play the game. We all know the numbers are staggering and that he carries the team, but $28 million is too much money to shell out as a thank you to Manning for his services.

The timetable for his recovery window this time around is two to three months. It's hard to believe Manning could miss eight or more games, jump back into the Colts lineup and take that team to the Super Bowl. There is a good chance they will be out of contention when he fully recovers.

The question also might not be when he will fully recover, but if. Three neck procedures in quick succession don't exactly paint a bright picture for his future. He missed the last recovery window and had four months to recover. Who is to say this one will be 100 percent effective?

Manning has to start worrying about his health at this point, and even though he has a great relationship with management, they are going to have to cut their losses at the first sign of a problem.

Manning should never see the $28 million unless the Colts believe he is going to at least play out the majority of his contract.

There was no benefit to inking Manning to this deal. The Colts have serious decisions to make and unless No. 18 has a speedy and full recovery within the timetable doctors have provided, the Colts need to start thinking about other options at quarterback.

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