• Peyton Manning and the franchise tag

    The face of the NFL right now is Peyton Manning. I'm sure a few people would argue that it's Tom Brady, maybe Ray Lewis. But the vast majority of us would agree, it's Peyton. He's not just a successful and prolific passer, he's in more commercials than Ronald McDonald. A great competitor and student of the game, but with a sense of humor and an 'aw shucks' southern drawl. He's the secret love child of Dan Marino and Aunt Bea.

    Manning's contract expired at the end of last year. The Colts slapped the franchise tag on him, but what happens if that tag goes away? More importantly, does the fact that Manning would be an unrestricted free agent hurt the player's chances of doing away with the franchise/transition tag?

    The franchise tag predates Peyton, but he is exactly who they had in mind when it was created. A player like Peyton needs to spend his entire career with one team (or at least the productive part, he can play his final year in San Diego), it isn't just good for the Colts, it's good for the league. I'm not saying the owners would hold up the entire CBA because of one player, but with this rule applying right now to such a high profile player, the franchise tag becomes a little more concrete and less of an esoteric concept. Would the owners take the 'all for one' approach and assume that what's good for the Colts is good for the NFL? Or would some owners be more likely to let the franchise tag go away if it meant a shot at landing one of the top QBs in football history?

    We all know that the franchise tag isn't going anywhere. It means more to the owners than it does to the players. A small percentage of players ever have to worry about it, but I believe every team has used it at least once. But, just for fun, let's say it does go away. The CBA is settled tomorrow and Peyton Manning is suddenly an unrestricted free agent. Where does he go?

    Colts would have to be the odds on favorites. He's happy there, it's his team. They love him there, their entire system is built around him. If Peyton goes away, they start from scratch. But Peyton on the open market, what would the opening bid be? $25M/year? $40? $50? Other teams have more money, both real money and cap money. What if they just can't match the offers?

    Most Likely

    Cowboys They already have a QB who has been to pro bowls and they will be more than happy to go into the season with Tony Romo. But Jerry Jones does like his shiny new toys and Peyton would be the shiniest toy in NFL free agent history.

    Titans Peyton is legend in Tennessee. Plus, by taking away your division rival's QB, you've helped your defense as much as your offense, at least for 2 games.

    Dolphins Would Peyton take his talents to South Beach? The Dolphins have been looking for a QB since Marino got run out of town by the Jaguars, and they aren't afraid to spend money.

    Least Likely

    Giants Peyton signing a 7-year, $300M contract to backup his brother would be the feel good story of the year, but probably wouldn't make a lot of sense.

    Redskins Daniel Snyder likes his toys even more than Jerry Jones. But I just can't see Peyton subjecting himself to that, no matter how many much money they threw at him.

    Bengals No explanation required.

    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      Some teams will have to spend $50MM or more to get to the floor of the anticipated cap. Not having to pay Carson Palmer will put Mike Brown in the category of having big $$$ to spend. But I agree Andy, Mike will factor in Peyton's age, neck surgery, etc. etc. to take himself out of the sweepstakes. Any other owner that has cap $$$ will jump into the pool for sure. I think the franchise tag survives, but if not the Peyton Manning feeding frenzy begins. The Colts then go from a 10-12 win team to a 3-5 win team.
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      Blasphemy!
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      I was making a little joke at the Bengals expense. They have a reputation for cheapness, but when it comes to re-signing his own players, Mike Brown has shown that he is willing to pay and sometimes even overpay (I believe Carson Palmer was the highest paid player in the league for several years). But Mike Brown overpaying to win a auction for the most coveted free agent in NFL history (who, as you mention is 35 years old) would have to be considered a upset of Buster Douglas-ian proportions.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Colts01 View Post
      Blasphemy!
      This was just a trap to lure you out into the open.
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      It is a good (yet scary) point you make about the new CBA possibilities. Manning and Brady are the two current players I just can't see playing elsewhere,however Im sure 49er fans felt that way about Montana and some qb that played in Green Bay once upon a time.Could the NFL fall into the "south beach" trap?
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      I'm with Andy. If somebody is going to spend that money, it's going to be Jerrah. Though he's already over the cap, so he'd have to move his other players. Tony Romo to the Colts?

      At least the color scheme wouldn't change that much. But imagine Manning in some other uniform, like the Cardinals (never happen with the cheap ass Bidwells). Or in Seahawk green.

      The Dolphins might be a good place (more Brady-Manning shennanigans). Of course, he could end up in the Vikings. The LA Vikings
    1. ZambianBillsFan's Avatar
      If the powers that be somehow allow this, I say he goes here:
      Colts - Already won with them
      Ravens - One good + experienced QB away, they already have the defense
      Steelers - No brainer, they already have the defense
      Jets - No brainer - plus it's New York
      Dallas - America's player + America's Team
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Do you think it's possible the three named plaintiffs in the Anti-trust suit work out an exemption from the franchise tag for themselves like last time?

      While I have no doubt Manning stays in Indy, it would be interesting to see what happens should he hit the open market.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      @Sparta,

      Bingo. I am SURE that conversation has happened in NFL HQ and Irsay must have pounded on the table.

      I think there are 10 named plaintiffs, non? The Reggie White suit gave the named plaintiffs protection. It would be FASCINATING if Manning, Brady and Brees all were exempt.
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by ZambianBillsFan View Post
      If the powers that be somehow allow this, I say he goes here:
      Colts - Already won with them
      Ravens - One good + experienced QB away, they already have the defense
      Steelers - No brainer, they already have the defense
      Jets - No brainer - plus it's New York
      Dallas - America's player + America's Team
      Seriously? Only 2 teams you mentioned would even consider signing him. Def the colts. He has been the face of the franchise and delivered a super bowl. Dallas is a maybe. Jerrah likes shiny toys and has lots of them with consistent qb play in the playoffs being their down fall now. But here's the hang up. Peyton SUCKS in the playoffs. Absolutely terrible! He has more losses than wins and routinely folds in the playoffs. How is that different than romo? Regular season stats and that's it.

      To address the other teams you mentioned.. the jets and ravens have young qbs who they have invested in highly. And both have been to as many afc champ games as manning. The ravens is an absolute no go. They don't waste big money on free agents and have an excellent front office/ scouting department.

      Now comes my biggest problem with you list... the steelers? Really? A no brainer? That's blasphemy.. the steelers have a qb that has more playoff wins, four times the afc champ game appearances, 3 times the super bowl appearances, and twice as many rings. Manning folds under pressure, Ben steps things up and makes it happen. Ben is 6 years younger and just hitting his peak. Add to that manning is useless when he's getting hit and under pressure and you want to put him behind the steelers line? Really? I'm a huge steelers fan but ill be the 1st to say our o line sucks and it sucks bad at pass blocking. I'm sure Ben is prob the most sacked qb the last 6 yrs. Manning would look like David Carr behind that line. And all of that flies in the face of the fact Pittsburgh never spends big money on free agents, and I mean never.

      Anyway I'd rate the 2 highest clubs to sign him as indy and the bengals. The bungles have to send a ton to get to the floor. But ultimately they won't do that. Manning ends up back w indy for sure..
    1. ZambianBillsFan's Avatar
      Mike,
      Yes the Steelers have a porous line, but last time I checked, put the kid in from the Jets and you guys still win those Super Bowls.
      The Steelers would find a way to protect Manning.
      Yes the Ravens, and Jets & Cowboys have young QBs they have invested in heavily, but this is Peyton Manning. If you don't have Brady, Brees, Vick and Rodgers on your team, and you have an opportunity to sign Manning (especially within 8 million of the price you are already paying your starter), you sign him. It's that simple. It's about winning now.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Peyton is to the Colts as Tom Brady is to the Pats and Elway is to the Broncos. He is essential for this team to succeed. I feel Peyton can retire a Colt and be able to reach yet another Super Bowl however I know that he's been a Smurf colored Gumby and has had surgeries. When spending big money, an owner may not want to put up as much as the agent/player would like. Peyton will be a Colt in 2011 and beyond but I know there are a lot of teams that dream "What If........."
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by ZambianBillsFan View Post
      Mike,
      Yes the Steelers have a porous line, but last time I checked, put the kid in from the Jets and you guys still win those Super Bowls.
      The Steelers would find a way to protect Manning.
      Yes the Ravens, and Jets & Cowboys have young QBs they have invested in heavily, but this is Peyton Manning. If you don't have Brady, Brees, Vick and Rodgers on your team, and you have an opportunity to sign Manning (especially within 8 million of the price you are already paying your starter), you sign him. It's that simple. It's about winning now.
      That's a really silly assessment of the teams and the game. The ravens would no way sign him, and neither would the steelers. To say sanchez could do what Ben has done is ridiculous!! The jets are exactly what the steelers were when Ben started his career. A dominant d with a killer running game. The difference is Ben did a much better job managing the game his 1st few years. He does own the rookie wins and qb rating all time records, plus Ben was the quickest to 50 wins. Sanchez isn't even close. Please don't ever compare sanchez to Ben again. It's moronic at the very least. I'll agree Ben was horrible in superbowl xl vs the seahawks, but he was brilliant in 3 road games to get there. And he was brilliant in the playoffs in 09. And sorry but the only other qb that might have been able to direct the game winning drive in 2:35 that culminated with the perfect pass to Santonio other than Ben is Brady. Manning and brees suck when the pressure is on them and rodgers hadn't elevated to that level yet at that point.

      And please don't ever put vick in the same sentence as the other top 6 qbs. The guy had a brilliant year, but its just been one. Before Andy Reid he was a qb dummy. He couldn't even fake being able to read a d. That's why he ran so much. He may still be a great qb, but he isn't yet. He had one great year. BTW look up passing stats and compare him to Ben and let me know what you find out. Esp focus on wins and losses.
    1. Batman's Avatar
      Any Colts fan following the labor negotiations has to have this as their deepest fear, even if it is only a 1% chance of happening. Now we hear that the Brady plaintiffs may get the 'reward' of not having the tag apply to them, so you have to be realistic and ask 'what if' even if it's extremely unlikely.

      Peyton's silence on the matter has not helped. I take this as simply he and Tom Condon working to get the maximum leverage possible with Jim Irsay in writing the new, sure-to-be-a-record contract. Would he entertain offers from other teams if the tag went away on him and he was free? Sure... you would have to even if you wanted to stay in Indy. Jones/Snyder/Allen/etc would just drive up the price.

      Still, at the end of the day, I don't think there is one person anywhere who would put money on Peyton playing somewhere other than Indy next year or the following. But until the new deal is written, or we know the tag will hold in 2011, I will remain the (tiniest bit) nervous...
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      Someone implied (can't remember who) that even if plaintiffs are exempt from the franchise tag, it would still stand for this year. I don't know if there's any truth to that, but that would be great news for Colts' fans. It's hard to imagine that they couldn't agree to a deal by next offseason. Even if he was declared a UFA immediately I doubt he would go anywhere, but with a new cap and spending minimums someone would throw a metric ton of cash at Peyton, even some teams that that already have an established QB.
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Batman View Post
      Any Colts fan following the labor negotiations has to have this as their deepest fear, even if it is only a 1% chance of happening. Now we hear that the Brady plaintiffs may get the 'reward' of not having the tag apply to them, so you have to be realistic and ask 'what if' even if it's extremely unlikely.

      Peyton's silence on the matter has not helped. I take this as simply he and Tom Condon working to get the maximum leverage possible with Jim Irsay in writing the new, sure-to-be-a-record contract. Would he entertain offers from other teams if the tag went away on him and he was free? Sure... you would have to even if you wanted to stay in Indy. Jones/Snyder/Allen/etc would just drive up the price.

      Still, at the end of the day, I don't think there is one person anywhere who would put money on Peyton playing somewhere other than Indy next year or the following. But until the new deal is written, or we know the tag will hold in 2011, I will remain the (tiniest bit) nervous...
      I do not see any scenario where Peyton would want to leave at this point,however until he is under contract it is a little uneasy.
    1. Batman's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeland View Post
      Even if he was declared a UFA immediately I doubt he would go anywhere, but with a new cap and spending minimums someone would throw a metric ton of cash at Peyton, even some teams that that already have an established QB.
      And that, my friends, is the deep dark fear in the heart of every Colts fan. Likely? No. Possible? Yes, as long as this uncertainty persists.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Peyton's not going anywhere. He's a Colt until he's done. He's just one of those sorts of guys who gets how special it is to play all the way with one team.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      So if Peyton is an UFA and is exempt from Franchise tag, you think Cinn can get him?