Jim Irsay Plans to Pay Peyton Manning This Offseason
"We know that Peyton's going to be the highest-paid player in the league," Irsay said. "It'll get done. There's no question about that, and it's something we'll focus on in the offseason."
Manning's current deal will expire after the 2010 season, but Irsay seemed confident that his franchise quarterback will re-sign with the team. Irsay didn't get into specific contract numbers, but Manning would likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million guaranteed on a long-term deal. Irsay said he thinks Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the only player in the league comparable to Manning, and Irsay will keep an eye on the Patriots' negotiations with Brady, who also may sign a long-term contract extension this off-season.
"Those guys are comparable in terms of what they'll be getting paid."
According to Irsay, Manning's contract won't be a problem. Irsay believes the hard contracts to negotiate are the ones for the mid-roster players, because when the Colts are signing, say, a free-agent guard, it's tough to determine whether they're getting the best player at the position for the money. With Manning, they know they're getting the best quarterback money can buy.
"Peyton's deal is not a hard deal," Irsay said.
Irsay inherited the Colts when his father died in 1997, and he reflected Tuesday on the Colts' lucky break at the end of the 1997 season, when a come-from-behind Arizona Cardinals victory handed the Colts the first pick in the 1998 draft, a pick they would use on Manning. At the time, many league observers thought the Colts should have chosen Ryan Leaf instead of Manning.
"It was viewed almost universally as a close decision and that either guy would have success in this league," Irsay said. "There was this myth about his arm strength."
There's no question now that Manning has not just a strong arm, but a Hall of Fame arm. And Irsay vowed that he'll "get something done in the off-season" to ensure that Manning's arm will lead the Colts for years to come.