Irsay’s latest public comments came on Thursday night, when he told some Indianapolis television stations that he and Manning are already involved in contract negotiations.
“We’ve talked more in recent weeks than we have in most Februarys,” he said. “Peyton and I have talked and said that we’d like to just come to something that makes sense for both of us. It’s a difficult thing because sometimes circumstances are thrown at you. You take your hands out of the deck that you’re dealt, and you deal with them.”
From Manning’s perspective, however, what is there to negotiate? Irsay owes Manning $28 million by March 8. The only negotiation would be for Manning to agree to delay or reduce that bonus payment, and the Manning camp has indicated that’s not going to happen. The reality is that Manning wants to be the undisputed starter for a team with playoff aspirations, while the Colts want to rebuild around the No. 1 pick in the draft, probably Andrew Luck. There’s not going to be a solution that makes sense for both parties, other than going their separate ways.
Irsay described his conversations with Manning as “upbeat and positive,” and when he acknowledged the tension that exists between the two of them, he tried to laugh it off.
“If I call him a politician, he asks for one stroke back on the golf course. And I said, no, he’s giving me one more because I thought he was acting like a jerk before,” Irsay said, laughing. “We have that type of relationship. We’re both very competitive, but I have a lot of close friends and they’ve said a lot worse things to me and I’ve said a lot worse things to them than him and I have.”
Irsay says he’s still holding out hope for a deal that keeps Manning in Indianapolis.
“Him and I will always continue to be great friends, and I hope it’s with him still being in a Colts uniform, but we’ll see as we go forward the next few weeks,” Irsay said.
More likely, Manning took off his Colts uniform for the last time when they lost to the Jets in the playoffs 13 months ago, and Irsay will cut Manning in the next few weeks.