New Contract For Peyton Manning Not Likely Before Collective Bargaining Agreement Expires


NDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning's agent would like to beat the clock on a new contract.

It's probably not going to happen.

With less than a week to go before the league's collective bargaining agreement expires, both sides say they have made progress on Manning's deal though neither appears to be rushing to finish the agreement.

"We're having conversations so that's a positive," Tom Condon, Manning's agent, told The Associated Press at the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indy. "But I would agree with him [Colts vice chairman Bill Polian] that nothing's imminent."

Polian made his comments Wednesday after leaving a competition committee meeting.

Most thought the Colts would try to wrap up a deal for the only four-time MVP in league history before the CBA expires at the end of Thursday. And if the lockout begins, as expected Friday, things will become increasingly more complicated.

Players, agents and team officials are already debating whether franchise and transition tags will carry the same weight they would in a normal league year.

Teams are proceeding as if they will.

Two weeks ago, the Colts designated Manning their exclusive franchise player, a move designed to keep him off the free-agent market. If the tag sticks, as team officials contend, Manning could not negotiate with other teams. He also would make $23 million if he plays under the tag next season.

Indy has gone down this path before. In 2004, the Colts also gave Manning the exclusive franchise tag then signed him to a seven-year, $98 million deal and rescinded the tag.

But it may not play out the same way this time.

"The players association and the management council have different interpretations about whether you can franchise any player," Condon said. "We really don't know what it means, and the players don't recognize the tag."

If there is a lockout, free agents cannot sign with other teams, players and team officials cannot communicate and teams can't even negotiate with agents to keep their own players, such as Manning.

Still, Condon and Polian are not establishing a deadline.

"Certainly it would be nice to have it done by then," Condon said, referring to the expiration of the CBA. "But I don't think there's any real urgency."

Running back Joseph Addai, the Colts' top runner last season and Manning's best blitz blocker, also could become a free agent once there is a new CBA.

"Nothing yet, but he'd like to come back to Indy," said Ben Dogra, who represents Addai and works with Condon. "We'll explore everything, but this is all in limbo because of the lockout, so I don't know what's going to happen."

Owner Jim Irsay also would like to keep Adam Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in league history. He has said the Colts contacted Vinatieri's agent, Gary Uberstine, but Uberstine did not respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press on Sunday.

The presumption is Manning's deal needs to be completed first.

But the Colts are willing to wait to make the smart move.

"We're presuming it's business as usual," Polian said Wednesday. "If that changes, we have a plan."

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