Irsay says talks with Manning have begun
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay suggested he has begun informal contract negotiations with quarterback Peyton Manning, while adding both parties "understand each other’s issues," WRTV reported.
"We’ve talked more in recent weeks than we have in most Februaries," Irsay said Thursday. "Peyton and I have talked and said that we’d like to just come to something that makes sense for both of us."
However, a source told NBC’s Pro Football Talk Friday that "numbers aren’t being discussed."
Irsay was speaking before his induction into the Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame, a day after a report that Manning had undergone an additional procedure on his troubled neck during the NFL lockout last summer, taking the total number of treatments on the injury to four.
The report also stated that Manning has developed bone spurs above the area where a spinal fusion was performed Sept. 9, leading the Colts to believe he will eventually need more surgery.
The four-time MVP, who turns 36 next month, said he expects to be healthy enough to play next season after missing all of 2011 and watching the Colts finish a league-worst 2-14.
Yet the uncertainty around Manning’s health has led many to conclude the Colts will cut ties with him, and instead select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the top pick in April’s NFL Draft.
"It’s a difficult thing because sometimes circumstances are thrown at you," Irsay said Thursday. "You take your hands out of the deck that you’re dealt, and you deal with them."
The Colts owe Manning a $28 million bonus if he is on the roster March 8, making it unlikely the team can afford both him and Luck unless Manning agrees to a substantial pay cut.
"We both know everyone has great interest on it, and we’ll just keep talking and, certainly, by that date, we’ll come up with something that makes sense for him and for the Colts," Irsay said. "I think we both understand each other’s issues."
Irsay said earlier in the week that he wanted Manning to return to the Colts if a new contract can be worked out and emphasized Thursday that rumors of a breakdown in his dealings with the franchise star were wide of the mark.