It was reported earlier today that Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Vincent Jackson, and Logan Mankins, as plantiffs in the Brady vs. NFL case, were asking to be exempted from the Franchise tag, thus making them Free Agents whenever their contracts would be up. We all know that would mean the Colts would only have 3 days to work a deal for Manning before he'd hit the open market, which is a horrifying thought.
This isn't the first time we've heard this rumor, as we reported on Manning's agency, CAA, was pushing for this about 3 weeks ago, along with Brees. As was written then, just because Manning is pushing for this exemption doesn't mean he doesn't want to finish his career in Indianapolis. I believe he has no inklings about skipping town. Why else would he have been working out with his teammates during the lockout despite not being signed?
This is all about business, and I think it has a couple meaningful levels.
UPDATE: Mike Chappell of the Indy Star has a quote from Manning and Brees' agent Tom Condon:
“Asserting anything else is nonsense,’’ agent Tom Condon said Tuesday evening. “Drew and Peyton have been two of the staunchest supporters of the players throughout this process.
“What they are doing is endorsing the players’ (bargaining position), not pursing anything individually.’’
Tip to gmitch23
First, for Manning personally, he would be able to get a little more money out of the Colts, which he rightly deserves, when they will only have 3 days to sign him before any team could sign him. Secondly, on a league level, it continues the precedent of named Plantiffs in court cases being given special exemptions. This happened back in the 90's, and I think the players would like to encourage the league's elite players to step up whenever needed on these court cases, thus if they get special privileges, they'll be more inclined to put their name on a case.
The other reason they could be doing this is it is a negotiating tactic, trying to get the owners to agree to something else, since I don't see either Manning or Brees really threatening to leave their respective teams. As long as they know when to let a deal get completed, as 4 guys shouldn't hold something up that benefits almost 2000 others.
However, we're now getting reports that these four guys have "softened" their stance, according to Boston.com's Greg Bedard. We also get several tweets right from the proverbial "horses mouth" in Brees:
I hesitate to even dignify the false media reports with a response, but obviously they are leading people astray.
I want no special perks. My job is to get a fair deal for all players, and I am proud to represent them all - past, present and future
All media claims about me wanting a personal reward for this deal are false. I hope you all know me better than that
This makes it seem like it was floated out there earlier today to see if the Owners would cave on something else, knowing that they'd be ok if they didn't get this exemption. No harm no foul.
So please back away from those cliffs if you overreacted earlier today. Peyton Manning will be in a Colts uniform next year, playing under the richest contract in NFL history. And we should know exactly how much that will be within the week.