Colts have a little more time to cut Peyton Manning, but they shouldn’t use it

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The much-discussed $28 million option bonus that the Colts owe Peyton Manning can be paid, under the express terms of his contract, at any point between the second day after Super Bowl XLVI and “fourth day before the end” of the 2011 league year.

It is commonly believed that, as a result, the Colts will cut Manning on or before March 8, in order to avoid paying him another $28 million to go along with the $26 million he earned as a coaching apprentice in 2011.

But, as Jason La Canfora of points out and as I have confirmed by looking at the contract that has been right in front of my freaking face for months, the so-called “non-exercise fee” is affirmatively earned the “second day before the end” of the 2011 league year.  In English, this means that the Colts won’t definitely owe Peyton Manning another $28 million until the “second day before the end” of the 2011 league year.

It also means the Colts can drag this thing out a little bit longer, if the Colts choose to do so.

The challenge then becomes to figure out with complete certainty the “second day before the end” of the 2011 league year.  I’ve spoken with league spokesman Greg Aiello (who sounded very relieved that I wasn’t asking a bounty-related question), and he said that the 2011 league year ends at 3:59:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13.  (He also pointed out that, for matters of this nature, teams and agents don’t use specific dates because no one knows with certainty at the time contracts are signed when a future league year will end and a new one will begin.)

La Canfora writes, without equivocation, that the Colts have until Sunday to cut Manning and avoid owing him $28 million.  I wouldn’t recommend waiting that long, if the Colts indeed intend to cut Manning.  With the 2011 league year ending on Tuesday, March 13, the first day before the end of the 2011 league year is Monday, March 12 — and the second day before the end of the 2011 league year is Sunday, March 11.  Given that the contract says that the $28 million non-exercise fee is actually “earned” on the second day before the end of the 2011 league year, the Colts should make damn sure Manning is off the roster before the clock strikes 12 on Saturday night.

One of the (few) things I learned while practicing law was the importance of deadlines, and the best strategy for honoring deadline is to figure out the earliest that an adversary could reasonable claim the deadline applies, and then to do whatever needs to be done before that earliest possible deadline moment comes.

If the Colts wait until Sunday to cut Manning, they very well may end up giving him a $28 million parting gift.  That’s why they shouldn’t wait until Sunday.

Frankly, unless there truly is a meaningful effort to negotiate a new contract with Manning that would replace his current deal, the Colts shouldn’t take any chances.  They should just cut him now.

They can then try to re-sign him.  They could even invite him to come in and throw for them as a free agent, something they irrationally believe they can’t do while he’s under contract.  Even though at that point the Colts would be competing with other teams, they won’t be playing a $28 million hybrid of “beat the clock” and Russian roulette.

UPDATE 10:10 a.m. ET:  Lost in the analysis of Peyton’s contract is that business can’t be transacted in most offseason weekends, including this one.  Thus, if Peyton isn’t off the roster by 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday, he’ll be on the roster as of Monday morning — and he’ll be owed $28 million.

33 responses to “Colts have a little more time to cut Peyton Manning, but they shouldn’t use it

  1. Given that we are currently in the year 2012, I’m thinking that the statement: “the second day before the end of the 2011 league year” was intended to mean the second day before the end of the 2012 league year. No?

  2. I thought cutting him was a foregone conclusion, until now.

    These recent signings make me think maybe they’re going to keep things intact for a while longer.

  3. I think they should make the decision early out of respect for the guy vs. meeting a deadline.
    I know his health situation is still up in the air but what is going to change in a matter of a few days?
    Cut the guy or tell him he is safe already!

  4. That would be great for the dolphins if the colts wait until the 13th. That is when Matt Flynn becomes a free agent, and they could work them out around same time and have more of a choice, rather than feeling pressured to pick manning right away just because he is available.

  5. Can’t wait til this whole Manning thing is done….tired of hearing the same thing everyday! Cut em or keep em and let’s move on!

  6. I don’t profess to be an expert on the new CBA, but I thought it strictly prohibited anything that looked like a workout at this time of year. It reached the point where apparently the teams were having to lock up all the footballs in their practice facilities, lest some of the players coming in actually start throwing it around. It seems to me that this would prohibit the Colts from asking Manning to do anything football-related right now as long as he is under contract. I may well be wrong, but that was my understanding…

  7. Prolonging this agony won’t make it easier. The Team Doctors and trainers are the only ones permitted to see Peyton and clear him to play. Have they even had the decency to contact him to arrange an evaluation session? If not, that’s unfair to him. The new GM and HC may not have the final say, but they have seemed to ignore that he even exists. Sucks for them. They won’t have the pleasure of knowing and working with the greatest or having his superb leadership. Go ahead boys, rebuild. It’s going to be a long, difficult road without #18. I hope he comes back to kick your butts. Get on with it Mr Irsay. Make your decision so Peyton and his fans can get into a new jersey. He deserves to know NOW.

  8. This is such an undignified way for this to end for one of the all-time greats of the NFL.

    Now he can move on to Miami where it will get really undignified under all those losses.

  9. So you are suggesting that other than Irsay having a problem with his twitter thumb and lack of PR skills, he and his team of bobo’s may mess up contract language interpretation? That would be hilarious.

    Irsay was pretty well-liked for his openness until this situation. What I can recall:

    “We’ll play him if he is healthy” leads to:
    -Bill Polian endorsing Manning’s abilities
    -Video clip being released on the net

    “This will be a family decision, not a business decision”
    -Would not make me feel good as a fan of this team staring at another potential 10yr franchise option or boatload of cash & cap wrapped up in QB position.

    “This should not be discussed in the media, it should be in-house”
    -IE: unless I want to take something in-house & bring it into the media…..

    I’m kind of sick of the these so-called “leaders” who hold a public discourse on what they may or may not do on a decision……..then obviously monitor information channels to try to predict what reactions might be.

    Are you going to pay Manning & then dump a bunch of money to put talent around him to make a run……or re-build with Luck?

    Irsay needs to stop being a total Sally and cut Manning already! Man-up! What more information do you need to help you make a decision? Playing the waiting game only makes you look like a wimp. Just come out and tell the avg fan that it’s time to move on & focus on the future, not the accomplishments of the past.

    It does not make economic or competitive sense to have both Luck & Manning. You don’t want to risk investing more into Manning & making a run with him in his older/fragile state. Makes sense, so man up & move on.

  10. Then just let him go and just move on so that we can all open the book to the next chapter of this soap whatever or wherever it may be…!

  11. Enough already. Just cut him Irsay. Everyone knows that Luck is going to be the #1 pick and you are cutting Manning. There is nothing to gain by waiting.

  12. Just get it over with. Nobody is going to trade for Manning, and everybody knows that Peyton is going to walk. Irsay looks a little more unstable by the day.

  13. Or option #3. You eat the 28 Million. If you believe that Manning has lost his arm strength. You bring him in one last year. Allow Luck the opportunity to learn the system. If Manning stinks it up, you can cut him after the season fully justified. Everyone wins. The fans will be satisfied, The Kid will get to learn, and Peyton would get the chance to showcase that he has truly recovered from his injury.

  14. I totally agree that the Colts shouldn’t push the deadline. I’ve written many contracts and worked closely with various attorneys from our Office of General Counsel over many years and one thing is clear to me. Words get interpreted in different ways. Unless you have absolutes expressed in a contract, it’s all open to interpretation and proof of intent. It would be a real a$$ burn if the Colts got stuck with a $28 million cap hit for nothing in return. Because I believe Manning is done, the Colts shouldn’t push it any further.

  15. Makes NO SENSE to cut him. Pay the $28 Million and trade him for cash and picks…or trade Luck. It could make the franchise a winner for a decade.

  16. Unfortunately on the business side, you try to hold onto him as long as possible in case someone gets stupid and makes a trade offer for him. (similar until waiting the full time during the draft during your pick)

    Of course, you know that I know that you know that no one will offer anything, but still…

  17. Jets

    They can’t pay the $28m and trade him. It would cost them $38m against the cap. That would be 1/3 of the cap tied to someone who doesn’t even play for them. Only options are to pay it and keep him (would count about $17m against the cap), cut him ($10m against the cap), or renegotiate.

  18. I’ll be glad when this is over and we can get back to what’s really important: Favre Watch 2012.

  19. After reading some of the comments on here it makes me feel like people in Miami are stupid it clearly says in the article you just read he has to be cut by Friday at 4 yet this Miami fan up here says he hope they wait till march 13th so they can try and get flynn to and thr very first comment really dude you do realize that its not the the end of the 2012 season because a season hasn’t started in 2012 yet

  20. Posted this on the other Peyton contract story thread, but I’ll post it here, too, as I’m looking for some clarification:

    So what is the difference between the language that describes the window between “the second day after the Super Bowl and the fourth day before the end of the 2011 league year” and “the second day before the end of the 2011 league year”?

    If the money can be paid any time between 2-days-post-SB and 4-days-pre-EoLY, then the implication seems to be that it *can’t* be paid outside of that window… which a 2-day-pre-EoLY deadline would describe.

    In effect, I think the difference is that the Colts must pay Peyton before the 8th (the 4th-day-pre-EoLY), even if they have until Friday @ 4:00 (the business-effective 2nd-day-pre-EoLY) to decide to cut him. Since the money isn’t affirmatively earned until the 2nd-day-pre-EoLY, Peyton would have to then turn around and repay the money if the Colts decided to part ways.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that this doesn’t change anything. If they don’t pay him by Thursday, the language of the contract seems to say that they cannot pay him, so that is effectively the termination of the contract. On the other hand, they could pay him and then still cut him within 24 hours… as unlikely as that is. I can’t see the Colts paying the $28 million just to have another 24 hours (from Thursday the 8th @ 4PM to Friday the 9th @ 4PM) to think about what they want to do.

    If they don’t pay him by the 8th, we’ll know he’s gone.
    If they *do* pay him, we won’t be sure that he’s staying until the 9th (@ 4PM).

    Mike, can you confirm this interpretation? Or clarify?

  21. The reason Peyton Manning hasn’t been cut yet is because Jim Irsay loves all the attention he is getting from this. This offseason has turned Jim Irsay into a celebrity. He even has a twitter account (and says stupid things) in order to enhance it. Also, he’s done countless interviews. The guy is in the spotlight and he loves it. Before this offseason started, I could have never told you who Jim Irsay was or what he looked like. Irsay is 60 going on 16, yet no one seems to notice because everyone is mesmerized by the Manning/Luck circus he has created.

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