As a practical matter, Manning’s new contract is fully guaranteed

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So Peyton Manning leverages his $23 million cap number into a $90 million contract, and the NFL media suddenly confuses him with Mother Teresa.

All we’ve heard and seen the past day or so is how Peyton Manning “took less.”  Less than what?  Less than what he wanted?  Less than what he could have gotten elsewhere?  Or less than what owner Jim Irsay had been publicly promising to pay him?

Of course, it’s the latter.  Irsay recklessly had been saying for months that Manning’s next deal will preserve his status as the highest-paid player in the NFL.  So with the bar set publicly, merely matching Tom Brady’s $18 million annual pay allows Manning to be painted by some in the media as a sure-fire candidate not just for Cantonization, but for canonization.

Though the deal has dropped Manning’s staggering $23 million cap number in 2011, giving Irsay some wiggle room to put players around Peyton, it’ll be interesting to see how much actual wiggle room the deal provides, both now and in every future year.

It also will be interesting to know, given evidence that the 35-year-old quarterback may be beginning to break down physically, just how much of the deal is guaranteed for injury and/or skill.  That’s not to say Peyton will get to a point where he lacks a high degree of skill, but at some point between now and 2015 there’s a chance (not a certainty or a probability, but a chance) he no longer will possess skills that merit $18 million per year in pay.

As a practical matter, the full $90 million is guaranteed, as long as Peyton can pass a physical.  Based on his comments to the media on Sunday, it’s clear that he fully intends to stick around for every snap — and thus for every dollar.

“I can’t tell you what an honor it is to go start to finish with the same organization here in Indianapolis,” Manning said, via the transcript distributed by the team.  “That is something I have always wanted to do as a rookie coming out.  Of course, you never know if that is possible but after yesterday it is official that I will be an Indianapolis Colt for my entire career.  I will not play for another team.  My last down of football will be with the Colts, which means a great deal to me. . . .  I am going to finish up my career here, and that means a great deal to me. I am very relieved it is behind me now.”

In other words, Manning won’t be nudged out the door, like Brett Favre in Green Bay or Troy Aikman in Dallas.  And Manning won’t face the same take-a-pay-cut-or-take-a-hike ultimatum that ended receiver Marvin Harrison’s career.  By not backing the Colts into a corner regarding the total amount of the deal (after he essentially was backed into a corner to lower his sights by public comments from Irsay), Manning essentially has backed the Colts into a corner when it comes to keeping him around for the full duration of the contract.

Though, as Bengals owner Mike Brown reminded us all last week, an NFL contract ordinarily entails only a one-way commitment, the Colts have taken their vows with Manning, for better or worse.

Peyton has said it himself.  He will not play for another team.  And while it’s an admirable goal for any pro athlete, it’s an easy thing to say right now, given that Manning’s perceived act of charity has preemptively blocked any future effort by the Colts to begin the post-Peyton era before Peyton is ready for it to begin.

Admittedly, that’s a cynical view of the situation.  But Manning is smart enough to know that the Colts masterfully used the confluence of a $120 million salary cap, a $23 million cap number, and a nervous fan base to keep him from doing what he did in 2004, when an $80 million salary cap didn’t stop him from taking a deal that paid out, on average, more than $14 million.  Thus, Manning also is smart enough to ensure that the Colts will be on the hook for every last cent of his newest deal.

47 responses to “As a practical matter, Manning’s new contract is fully guaranteed

  1. All we’ve heard and seen the past day or so is how Peyton Manning “took less.” Less than what? Less than what he wanted? Less than what he could have gotten elsewhere? Or less than what owner Jim Irsay had been publicly promising to pay him?

    All of the above.

    And you forgot “less than he’s worth”.

  2. Anybody that thinks he is going to play for 10 million dollars the last 2 seasons of his career is out of his or her mind. He will retire or restructure that deal after 3 years of 23 million / year.

  3. eagleseagleseagles says:
    Jul 31, 2011 6:50 PM
    Manning showed so much class in taking less money. wonder how many other players could have done the same….


    Well for starters, there is a guy in New England named Tom Brady who has been taking less so that the team can have more.

  4. While he’s entitled to the salary he earns, I have to wonder if Manning really wants to win championships. His postseason record is below average and between an infinite # of commercials I have to endure, his record reminds me of missed opportunities.

    Say what you want about Favre, but he restructured his contract several times to help out the team (granted the Pack didn’t always do great to give him WR talent).

  5. It’s really sad to see how many people fail to comprehend the structure of NFL contracts.

  6. I would have been more impressed had his deal been back loaded. He’s going to end up getting the bulk of the money up front. He didn’t do that to help his teammates or the Colts he did that to pad his retirement nest egg. I don’t blame him for doing that. I just put him on a pedestal for it.

  7. I thought the premise of having a salary cap was so that each team has a fair chance of winning. Wouldn’t Manning be violating that principle by taking a lot less than what he’s worth?

  8. He’s like a first round pick getting all his money guaranteed, there’s just that little thing about his neck & passing a physical.

  9. Actually many of the national media writers they have had on the radio the last month have said they expected a contract of 20-25 million a yr and full contract well over 100 million.
    90 million is a lot but he could have got more from the colts as well as the majority of the league if he was a FA.

  10. Rejoice, rest of the NFL. A team has paid huge money to a fading QB who is under .500 for his career in the playoffs. Nice.

  11. Peyton Manning = highest paid player in history = 1 Super Bowl
    Colts will slip away now as they pay the bill for that 1 Super Bowl.
    Recovery will be 10 years or more unless that get lucky.

  12. “…Manning won’t be nudged out the door, like Brett Favre in Green Bay or Troy Aikman in Dallas….”
    And Irsay and the Colt’s are going to regret that one.
    Bottom line-Manning’s not getting any younger and there are QB’s in the league now who get paid a whole lot less and have produced a hell of a lot more in terms of meaningful results.

  13. Anyone else think it’s a coincidence that his $23 million/yr ends once a new tv contract is made, thus raising the cap? So he will make even MORE in 3 years than he is now.

  14. Say what? He’s worth it to his team and the NFL. Is he overpaid for what he does? Maybe. Did he earn it? Sure did.

  15. He’s the only one that has taken less as an individual to gain more as a team? When ya’ll gonna get up off your knees, wipe off your lip and just be real where Peyton Manning is concerned? Best reg. season QB in history quite possibly…but he does have just as many rings Trent Dilfer, his average at best brother in NY and Aaron Rodgers…who has been a starting QB in this league for all of TWO years.

  16. firerogergoodell, it’s NOT $23 mil a year. He gets guaranteed money up front, just like Brady did and then a yearly salary. So if he got $51 mil guaranteed, he could get paid $6 mil a year for the first 3 and be at the $69 mil number.

    You have to understand how the cap works to understand the $69 mil over 3 years. The guaranteed money hits the cap over 5 years so he is NOT getting $23 mil a year.

    Manning took a situation where he was going to count as $23 mil against the cap (franchise tag) or +-$20 mil (Irsay’s offer) and now counts only $16 mil this year. That’s not something you see in every NFL player and I can’t understand why people bash him for taking less than was publicly stated he could get.

  17. If given the opportunity, 31 other teams would have offered Peyton that exact same deal if that meant he’d be their QB for the next 5 years. That’s a pretty fair deal in my book.

    It’s great to have the NFL back by the way. Now we can get back to splitting hairs over Peyton Manning signing the NFL’s first baseball contract… and completely erase the memory of what it was like without football when we were subjected to the likes of LeBron James and “the decision”.

  18. The big problem with this money is he is getting as much as Brady, and he isn’t as good.

    He probably agreed to take the same amount out of the sense of shame that would overcome him if he took more.

  19. tommyf15 says: Jul 31, 2011 7:12 PM

    I thought the premise of having a salary cap was so that each team has a fair chance of winning. Wouldn’t Manning be violating that principle by taking a lot less than what he’s worth?


    lol, so how do you know what he’s worth? Market price is one way to tell, but can you honestly say you know what his market price is? If he breaks the bank and prevents the team from acquiring the talent it needs to win, he won’t look so great, will he? So when a guy accounts for 1/5th of the salary cap, is there any other way the team can afford an appropriate supporting cast without cheating them of their “value”? The greatest QB in the league can make every player on the roster look better. But can he carry a bunch of scrubs into the post-season? Not consistently – especially if he’s as famous for choking in big games as Manning is! Follow Brady, Brees and Rothlisberger’s example and he won’t have to carry them nearly as far. If only Manning looked at what a small percentage of his income was in NFL salary (compared to endorsements) and he might be more willing to give the team the money it needs to give him proper support.

  20. He’s one of the greatest QB’s ever, but I suspect he’s on the downside of his career. It may even get painful to watch.

  21. Would one of you PFT trolls name 3 teams that would pay him this amount – and have the cap room to do it – and would be legit PLAYOOF – let alone super bowl contenders

  22. Given the draft strategy this year, the Colts continue to emphasize pass protection and now offer a good blend of youth with experience on the OL roster. Little reason to think a 40 year old Manning can’t be a top 1/3 NFL QB.

  23. If manning plays out the last 2 years of that contract for what he signed for today, then i’ll agree he took less.

    Until that time though he is getting 23 mill/yr for 3 years which makes him the highest paid player in the league by far and does not represent a sacrifice on his part. If the 2 years on the end are dummy years then the only thing he’s done is made fools of the press who laud the $23 mill/yr man for only having a cap hit of 18 mill. A little creative accounting does not a saint make.

  24. hoodheisman says:Jul 31, 2011 7:50 PM

    If given the opportunity, 31 other teams would have offered Peyton that exact same deal if that meant he’d be their QB for the next 5 years. That’s a pretty fair deal in my book.


    I disagree with that statement. Not just willingness to sign him but actually having the capspace to sign him.

    I would love to see what would happen to Peyton if he had to learn a new system as he’s still in the system he learned as a rookie.

  25. I don’t understand all the hating on Manning… If everyone disagrees with him being the highest paid player… then PLEASE tell me who should be? The guy is the face of a franchise who is an annual conteder to win the Superbowl every year. He’s made it to 2 Superbowls in the last 4 years while he’s been according to many on this forum: “on the downside”.

    Everyone said Brady took a home team discount on his previous contract… No he didnt! The guy was consistantly ranked anywhere between the 7th and 12th QB annually in terms of TD’s and yardage, and thats about where his contract ranked far as QB money went. He was NOT a superstar QB at the time. He was the QB of a great team who ran the ball extremely well, averaged giving up 16 points a game in the postseason and the TEAM won 3 Superbowls along the way. SINCE THEN, he’s become a much better QB and a “Star”, yet now that his defense is giving up 20 points per game he’s got a .500 postseason record during that span as well.

    Something tells me if Manning’s Defense averaged giving up only 16 points per game in the postseason, he’d have a stellar playoff record as well. Unfortunately, the Colts give up 22 points per game in the playoffs, hence “Mannings” poor playoff record.

    But if everyone wants to blindly give credit to Brady for the Superbowl wins, that’s fine… But please explain how he’s become a much better QB over the past 5 years, yet he has ZERO Superbowls to show for it?? The whole TEAM needs to step up to get the W’s in the playoffs…

  26. Also, I don’t understand why this website hasn’t reported that this years hit on the salary cap is only $16 Million as has already been published on other sites…

    Oh, thats right… that would be less than Brady’s hit to salary cap and that wouldn’t look too good…

  27. hoodheisman says: Jul 31, 2011 7:50 PM

    If given the opportunity, 31 other teams would have offered Peyton that exact same deal if that meant he’d be their QB for the next 5 years. That’s a pretty fair


    I doubt the Pats and Packers would want a sub .500 playoff QB who specializes in throwing the pick six in the last minute of a super bowl.

    So that’s down to only 29 teams, then there’s the Saints and Chargers etc.

  28. It’s still sad how many think his cap #’s for his final two years will be 10million.

    They won’t be, just as his cap #’s for the first 3 years won’t be in the 23 million range.

    Year 1 is 16
    Year 2 is 17-18

    Irsay said “The cap hit this year will be $16 million, and it stays very reasonable every year after that. Honestly, we would have had to do some serious cutting if we’d had to pay the (franchise tag of $23.1 million).”

    Just said to see so many be mislead.

  29. So being the highest paid player in the league is a bigger priority than winning? Come on Man! You’re the most overexposed player in the league,you have more endorsements than anybody else and yet you still need to be the highest paid at age 35 on the back end of your career? Seriously? Win a few more titles and MAYBE you say you deserve it,but until then,you’re just a Greedy S.O.B!

  30. I don’t even like the Colts, but Manning deserves what he can get, and the fact is, he took less than what he could have. Sorry to say it, PFT, but he COULD have demanded more and the Colts WOULD have had to pay it or it would have been total anarchy in that city. Obviously we’re talking crazy $$ regardless, and yes, this sainthood speak is ridiculous, but how can anyone begrudge the guy his due? He’s been one of the all-time greats (and still is) and is one of the most marketable players in the NFL.

  31. Ya the pats had a great defense, and if they had a first overall pick at QB they couldn’t have afforded that defense.
    Its part of the beauty of the game.

  32. @kom2k10

    that was the best post I read in a loooong time regarding 18….you should email that to Colin cowherd

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