The uncertainty regarding Peyton Manning’s ability to play football in 2011 doesn’t appear in the five-year, $90 million contract that Manning signed last month.
According to a source with knowledge of the deal, Manning received a $20 million signing bonus. As long as he doesn’t leave the Colts via a voluntary retirement, none of that money can be recovered.
If he’s not placed on injured reserve by then end of the week, another $7.4 million will become guaranteed, via a $3.4 million base salary and a $3 million roster bonus earned if Manning is on the 53-man roster for any one game in 2011.
Even if Manning is placed on season-ending IR, the fact that he passed a physical means that he’ll be owed the full $3.4 million, unless the Colts would work out an injury settlement for something less than that and relinquish his rights, an outcome which is highly unlikely.
And so Manning will make at least $23.4 million in 2011. If he’s not placed on injured reserve by the weekend, he’ll make $26.4 million — even if he never takes another snap in an NFL game.
In the event that the lingering uncertainties with Manning’s neck and nerves linger into 2012, the team will have a tough decision to make by the fourth day of the 2012 League Year. At that point, a staggering $28 million option bonus comes due, along with a non-exercise fee in the same amount. The Colts’ only way to avoid the payment will be to cut him or to trade him.
If Manning’s health remains up in the air come March, which is only seven months from now, the Colts will have to decide whether to give Manning his freedom — and $27.4 million in money he never actually earned — or to give him another $28 million in the hopes that he eventually will be able to play.
Thus, Manning eventually could end up with what amounts to a severance package of nearly $55 million.