Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams said he plans to offer Peyton Manning a contract that would make the star quarterback a member of his franchise “for life.”
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He actually can do it, too.
FOXSports.com has learned that kind of unusual arrangement isn’t barred under NFL rules. It also could set a precedent for other franchises that might want to sweeten the pot when courting star players.
FOXSports.com has learned that the Titans can offer Manning a contract addendum with the promise of a front-office position once his playing days have ended. Such a deal would not count against Tennessee’s salary cap, but the salary must be considered fair-market value for whatever front-office position Manning is promised, whether as an administrator or coach.
Theoretically, that means the Titans can guarantee Manning a future executive’s role that carries a seven-figure annual salary without taking a cap hit.
Such an arrangement would be unprecedented under the collective bargaining agreement. The deal, like all player contracts, also would require the approval of the NFL’s management council.
Adams, though, cannot promise Manning an ownership stake in the franchise. Such arrangements must first be approved by the league. There also would be salary-cap ramifications if an active player agreed to a deal that allowed him or a family member to become a part-owner either while still playing or in the future.
Adams told KHOU-TV in Houston on Wednesday that he wants Manning to become part of the Titans “for life.” In an article on the NFL’s website, analyst Mike Lombardi wrote that part of Adams’ sales pitch might include “a promise Manning could be part of the Tennessee Titans’ organization after his playing days are through.”
Such a pact must be done in writing. The NFL has previously sanctioned teams that have tried swinging under-the-table arrangements to circumvent the salary cap.
In 2000, the San Francisco 49ers were fined $300,000 and stripped of third- and fifth-round draft picks for striking “side deals” that would filter financial benefits to two players. One of those players was tight end Brent Jones. He was allegedly promised a bonus for doing offseason work to promote the franchise’s efforts to get a new stadium built in San Francisco.
The Titans might still be able to land Manning without the guarantee of a front-office job or future ownership. Manning took a visit to the Titans’ headquarters Wednesday, marking the fourth meeting he has had with an interested suitor since his release last week by Indianapolis. Denver, Arizona and Miami also have made pitches to Manning.