Now that we're finally back to football, it's time to get down to the most important business of any team out there: the Colts signing Peyton Manning to the richest contract in NFL history. We've learned from ESPN's Adam Schefter that teams could potentially start signing their own Free Agents today, and if that happens, don't expect it to take very long before we get an announcement that Manning has been locked up.
I'm of the opinion that Manning would have signed a deal back in February, if not sooner, if it were not for the impending lockout. He knew, being the highest profile player in the league, that signing before any new CBA would significantly hurt the players in negotiations, so he made it a point to not sign anything. But that doesn't mean that him and the Colts don't have years and dollars already agreed upon, and the Colts Front Office now only has to figure out how to work the numbers to fit under the salary cap.
A quick refresher on the Colts cap situation, as well as the new rules. New this year, teams will have a salary floor, based solely on cash. In both 2011 and 2012, that floor is 99% (it's 95% after that). Back in June, Yahoo's Doug Farrar reported that the 2011 Cash Spent for the Colts is only $73.8 Million, which means the Colts will have to spend around $45 Million more in the next two weeks to comply with these new rules.
On top of the salary floor, the Colts will have to play with the Salary Cap numbers to keep them under $120 Million. ESPN's John Clayton claims the Colts are $2.7 Million over, but I can't possibly understand how that is. Farrar claims the number is at $100.7 Million, which means the Colts have $20 Million to play with. So how do the Colts fit $45 Million into $20 Million of cap space? Big Freaking Bonus for #18.
Here's my prediction, now with (I think) enough information to go on: Manning will sign his contract sometime later today, as the numbers were agreed upon back in March, but he just never signed it. He's going to get around $30 Million as a bonus, which will only count $6 Million against this year's cap (assuming 5 year deal). That leaves $15 Million in cash and $14 Million in cap space, making the rest of the deals a little easier to do. He'll probably have a pretty low base salary for 2011, but it'll skyrocket starting next season, helping make up for the $30 Million in cash the Colts gave him this year.