Jim Irsay: Colts Were in 'Close' Talks with Peyton Manning for GM Job in 2016

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 26, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07:  Peyton Manning (L) listens as Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay speaks at a press conference announcing Manning's release from the Colts at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)
Joey Foley/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told reporters at the NFL owner meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday that he and ex-Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning were "close" to reaching an agreement on the two-time Super Bowl-winning signal-caller returning to the team in an executive role before the 2017 season.

"It did get close with Peyton," Irsay said per Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. "I wouldn't say super serious close, but enough to kick the tires and say, 'What are you thinking?' Because my counsel is there for him whether he comes to the Colts or choosing to do something else."

The Colts owner also clarified that he looked for Manning to fill a position akin to "a president, general manager sort of thing."

Per Irsay, he first approached Manning about a role in November 2016, when the Colts were on the second half of a disappointing 8-8 season.

After Irsay relieved general manager Ryan Grigson of his duties at season's end, he then approached Manning again about assuming a top position. However, Manning decided against it.

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"I'm just not ready yet," Irsay recalled Manning saying. "[He said,] It's just not right, right now. And if I'm all in, I'm all in. ... You know I'd like to spend more time with the family. He clearly expressed that to me. And I wasn't surprised."

While Manning didn't land the job, the Colts have turned out all right with ex-Kansas City Chiefs director of Football Operations Chris Ballard assuming the Indianapolis general manager gig instead.

The 49-year-old has seemingly made all the right moves, notably nailing his first three 2018 draft picks of offensive guard Quenton Nelson, Defensive Rookie of the Year linebacker Darius Leonard and offensive lineman Braden Smith.

The ex-Chiefs exec also hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich after New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels agreed to a head-coaching deal but ultimately decided at the last minute to stay in Massachusetts.

Reich guided the Colts to a 10-6 record and divisional-round postseason appearance in year one after the team started just 1-5.

As for Manning, Marisa Guthrie of Hollywood Reporter wrote on March 18 that ESPN reached out to the surefire future Pro Football Hall of Famer about joining the Monday Night Football broadcast team. That crew has an opening with the departure of Jason Witten, the 15-year NFL tight end who recently ended his one-year retirement and will rejoin the Dallas Cowboys for the 2019 campaign.

Manning, who currently breaks down quarterbacks' film as part of the ESPN+ series Detail, was listed as a 2-1 favorite to assume the MNF role per BetOnline (h/t Joe Nguyen of the Denver Post).