The Colts have made it official with the 'exclusive' Franchise tag. Confirmed by Owner Jim Irsay over twitter last night, the Colts will pay Manning, the world's most powerful athlete, over 23 million dollars while "we [the Colts] continue to negotiate a long term deal" Mr. Irsay wrote.
The Colt's have repeatedly claimed they will make Manning the league's highest paid player, yet so far have not been able to reach an agreement. Colt's fans shouldn't worry though as this has happened before. The Colt's used the tag in 2004 before they hashed out a record breaking 7 year 98 million dollar deal. Afterwards, as is permissible by the NFL, the Colts then removed the tag.
The reason for the tag this year is its exclusive nature. By using such a designation, the Colts prevent Manning or his agent from talking with other teams. The Eagles used the same exclusive rights tag with Michael Vick. The tag also gives the Colts and Manning more options with the uncertainty of the new collective bargaining agreement. If the league reaches a new deal before the old CBA expires, expect the Colts to announce a multi-year extension shortly thereafter.
If not, and the league enters 'lockout' mode, then the tag gives the Colts time to wait and see how league negotiations unfold. Understanding the new rules and salary cap will be crucial to how the Colt's structure the deal to ensure that Peyton is paid while the Colts remain financially competitive.
As is typical, Manning has not spoken about the tag or his contract negotiations, but talks are continuing with his agent Tom Condon.
For Colts fans, the concern shouldn't be 'if' it gets done, but its inevitable, but how. We want to honor and respect Peyton but at the same time ensure money is left over so that the defense and offensive line can be improved upon to.
Let's see what happens. For now, Peyton Manning is a member of the 2011-2012 Colts.