Sure Looks Like Peyton Manning Has Moved On

Two weeks before March 8 decision date. Two weeks!

This is what the "we need to keep Peyton Manning/Irsay is disrespecting Manning by running him out the door!" camp needs to consider here.

Two weeks left and Manning has yet to have a public session throwing the football that would put pressure on Irsay to honor his contract. These private sessions: useless because it allows the he said (Team Manning: he is doing fine ... lots of zip and accuracy on the ball on every route all over the field ... he is practically a month away from being able to start an NFL game!) versus she said (Team Colts: he can't throw to half the field or throw more than 30 yards downfield to the other half!) "reports" to proliferate. Only an open throwing session where reporters, scouts etc. could produce an unvarnished opinion of Manning's progress would be suitable for applying pressure on Irsay. Manning hasn't had such a session, hasn't scheduled one, and - as Manning certainly wants to get as much of the $64 million that the Colts have committed to giving him - more than he will get anywhere else - since it is obviously in his interests to do so, there is a reason why he hasn't: he isn't physically ready to.

Two weeks left and Manning has yet to meet with the Indianapolis team doctors. Again, the absence of doing so allows doctors that Manning chose and paid (he said!) to claim "if he were my son, I would tell him to go play football tomorrow!" And it allows the Colts (she said!) to leak out stuff concerning "Manning had another secret surgery/procedure on his neck!" Again, if Manning were capable of getting a clean bill of health from Indy's doctors, who almost certainly would do things to test his strength/flexibility/reaction time of his nerve and arm, he would have done so already because it would be in his interests ($64 million from Colts versus a good bit less from anyone else). He hasn't met with Colts doctors because he knows that it isn't in his interests to.

Two weeks left and Manning has yet to submit a proposal for a reworked/reduced/incentive-based contract. Don't think that such things can be worked out overnight ... they take days, even weeks. If he hasn't started now, he isn't going to. It was in their interests to get it done before now or by now, when Irsay and the Colts wouldn't be tied up with things like the combine, free agency and preparations for the draft. Granted, free agency doesn't start until March 13, but the decision on whether to keep Manning or not will influence their entire free agency strategy, from the cap room available to a "win now versus build for the future" approach, or whether the OL for a 36 year old QB versus WRs for a mobile 22 year old one should be emphasized, etc. We can presume that Manning hasn't done such a thing because it would be folly for Irsay to recommit to Manning before he knows whether Manning can pass a physical or throw a football. No contract talks yet because Manning knows he can't.

Two weeks left and Manning has yet to propose an extension of the March 8 date, which would maximize his time to get healthy, stay with the organization and maximize his earning potential. It is in his interests to do so; it is in Irsay's interests to let that date stay put and for March 8 to get here as quickly and with as little incident or attention drawn to it as possible. Manning hasn't done so or even talked about it. Why? Because nothing has changed. Therefore, there is nothing to talk about.

Two weeks left and Manning has yet to meet with Irsay to discuss these issues. The meeting was SUPPOSED to happen right after the Super Bowl. It has been three weeks, and not a thing has happened. Now keep in mind: it is in Manning's interests to seek the meeting, not Irsay's. Irsay would be happy to release Manning as quietly as possible, get Luck signed to a new contract (which he can do so in theory as early as February 24, but in practice won't happen before Luck's pro day on March 22) and get on with marketing the new face of the franchise (and the NFL) with as little attention being paid to Manning as possible (especially since Manning is going to head to another team and try to beat the Colts as soon as he is healthy). It is in Manning's interest to press for the meeting and discuss things like scheduling a throwing session (and what would happen during the session), a physical (and who would pick the doctors and what those doctors would be permitted to examine), a new contract, and a new "release date" (although again since free agency starts March 13 and the strategy - and the cap situation - will have to be known by then, there really isn't a whole lot of flexibility available, which is why that date was chosen in the first place ... so yes pushing the release date into the free agency period basically guarantees that Manning won't be released!).

Now unlike the other stuff, a meeting with Irsay wouldn't be pointless, especially if the two parties are exiting on good terms. Manning (and agents) and Irsay (and other reps i.e. the GM and head coach) could meet, talk about their positions, shake hands and leave. But the fact that Manning has not sought a meeting with the employer that has paid him well over $150 million and from whom he wants $64 million more from is revealing: Manning has moved on. That explains the virtual "lockdown mode silence" that Team Manning has gone into. For all the people who talked about how Irsay's treatment of Manning would make Andrew Luck less likely to want to sign with Indy (fat chance!) there was a REAL possibility of Manning's keeping a media war going with Irsay alienating the guys that Manning wants to sign him to a very big contract in a few weeks. That would explain why Irsay was able to basically "get the last word in" with the leak about that secret neck procedure. Team Manning didn't respond - other than leak the ridiculous comparison with Chris Weinke, who was on the college football field again less than a year after his neck surgery and whose ability to continue his career was never in doubt - and that has been that.

If Manning was fighting to stay in Indianapolis, now would be the time to have the full court blitz on to do so, especially with Andrew Luck in town for the combine (and if media reports are to be believed, in communication with the Colts, who instructed him not to throw at the combine). But silence from Team Manning means that they have indeed moved on and are considering their options.

Which may not be as good or numerous as people seem to believe. No team is going to risk the 2012 season on Manning, a QB who A) might not be physically able to play or B) might sign with somebody else even if he is. Take two teams linked to Manning in the Dolphins and Cardinals. The Dolphins aren't going to miss their shot at Matt Flynn while waiting on Manning's health and preferences. The Cardinals meanwhile are going to have to fish or cut bait on Kevin Kolb by March 17. The 49ers similarly are going to have to make a decision on Alex Smith early in free agency. By the time the NFL draft is done, the market for Manning will likely consist of not much more than a couple of teams with no cap space and young QBs while, relatively unproven, have won playoff games (Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow). And since the free agent market will set Manning's contract, how much do you believe that he will get in that case?

All the more reason to believe that Manning has every financial interest to fight to stay with the Colts. And since he isn't fighting that battle right now, it is safe to presume that it is because he knows that said battle is over.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

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