Peyton Manning open to restructured, performance incentive-heavy contract: report

Michael Santo's picture

While Peyton Manning has been cleared by his surgeon to play in the upcoming 2012 regular season, Colts owner Jim Irsay has clarified that the Colts doctors have not cleared Manning, and as many believe his time in Indianapolis is already done, there is information coming out that the all-time great is open to a contract structured heavily, or perhaps even only, on performance incentives.

Sources have told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Peyton Manning is "completely open" to structuring a contract in which he would be paid little -- or even no --- up front "salary," but would instead make all the money he earns via performance incentives.

The concern, quite naturally, after three neck surgeries is that Manning may never play at 100 percent again. Reports have said that now that the Giants have won Super Bowl 2012 and the season is officially over, Manning and Irsay will meet this week to discuss Manning's future with the club. However, Irsay has previously said that no decision on Manning will be made quickly.

For both parties, there is a hard deadline approaching, one that is far earlier than the regular season, and even before the NFL Draft, where the Indianapolis Colts have the Number One overall draft pick and are expected to take Stanford's outgoing quarterback, Andrew Luck. The Colts must decide whether or not to pay Manning a $28 million option bonus, which is due March 8, in order to extend his contract for another four years. If they opt out of that scenario, then Manning would become a free agent.

In the event that Manning is released, there are quite a few times that would find the quarterback attractive --- if he was healthy. It's because of concern over his arm strength (the biggest issue now is nerve regeneration, enabling him to recover his arm strength) and his ability to play that a performance laden contract would make sense, for both teams and Manning. An example might be that Manning would receive a roster bonus if he can play effectively on the first day of the season (whether or not teams would try to structure the contract such that Manning must win the starting job remains to be seen).

After that, another bonus could be paid to Manning based on the number of game he starts during the season, and perhaps might include statistics like QB rating, percentage competion, attempts, yards, etc.

A number of teams have been mentioned as candidates for Manning, but as much as teams pursuing Manning, it will likely be the reverse as well. Manning, given his status --- and if healthy --- would have a laundry list of requirements he would want met before he chose a team, and they wouldn't necessarily be contract-related, either.

It's clear he wants another Super Bowl ring. With that, one would think the most obvious team for Manning would be the San Francisco 49ers. Alex Smith performed adequately, but if a team had a chance at a healthy Peyton Manning, even for only three of four more years, would they pass it up? It is unlikely any team would do so.

Other teams that have been mentioned are the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, and the New York Jets. While none of those teams --- except perhaps the Jets --- seem very close to a Super Bowl, Manning and his wife own a condo on South Beach and two source have indicated Manning has interest in the Dolphins because of "location, location, location."

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