David from Rockville, Md., writes: The one sided booby traps that Peyton Manning and Tom Condon put in the contract are what will ultimately keep Manning from coming back. Why would Manning prevent the team from getting a compensation pick for losing him? Irsay put up with Manning spinning the contract. Not a penny more than Brady . . . but all front loaded? Convenient for a 36 year old QB not likely to last the five years. He wanted to give the team an out due to his injury? But that out was all self serving, preventing the team from being compensated for losing him and forcing them to pay him a second time before he was healthy enough to play. Manning is driving this bus and only looking out for his own leverage. He whined about going through what every player goes through. He is spoiled from the way Irsay coddled him all this time. I am a Colts fan since '69 and this guy is screwing the team, the city and the fans. Irsay can’t win. Fans will always side with Manning, even when it is the terms he put into the contract that dictate his leaving town.
Paul Kuharsky: Given this alternative, why would Manning want the Colts to weaken the team he goes to by getting compensation from it? His concern as he leaves will be for where he’s going, not for where he’s been. And I’m perfectly fine with that. That is as it should be.
Manning didn’t force the contract on Irsay. Both sides signed it.
It’s odd to me that you’d be upset with Manning for getting the deal rather than with Irsay for giving it.
A popular player will always have the fans on his side more than ownership will. Fact of life.
If by “compensation pick” you mean a compensatory pick, you only get a compensatory pick for free agents that leave, and not until a year later and not higher than a third-rounder. You wanted them to let him reach free agency without having any control of the situation just to create that? That would have made zero sense.
Ted from San Francisco writes: Could the Texans be better off if they spend their money not on Foster but instead on Vincent Jackson?
Paul Kuharsky: People are talking like Foster can leave. He’s going to be restricted. There are no conditions under which they wouldn’t be able to match an offer to him. If they let Mario Williams walk and juggle some other stuff, they could conceivably sign Foster long term and get a free agent of significance. Jackson’s going to get a lot, though. I wouldn’t count on too much outside spending.
They work with Foster as a key piece. I’d be wary of anything that put them in a spot where he could disappear after one more season.
Clint from Richmond Hill, Ga., writes: Paul, you couldn't be more incorrect about the jags. This team has lots of young talent, and you certainly can't say for sure how good players like Gabbert and Rackley are going to be yet because they're rookies!! As far as Alualu is concerned, you don't become the 6th overall defense in the league unless you have good interior defensive tackles. Gene Smith has done a good job so far, and this team will get better, I can promise you that.
Paul Kuharsky: Please take a more careful look at what you are complaining about. That's not my take -- that's Football Outsiders’ take.
I like Gene Smith. But this team needs to be fixed and clearly on the upswing next year. The clock is ticking.
It will get better? I should hope so. It would take quite an effort to be worse.
Paul Roden writes from Pittsburgh via Nashville: Peyton the Titan? Am I crazy, or does this make sense? Or How crazy am I that I think this makes sense? 1. Very stable, always above average, often great offensive line 2. New CBA means they didn’t spend too much on Locker, plus sitting behind Peyton is a no-brainer (kindly ignore how bad his backups have been). 8 million dollars for Hasselbeck is hardly the worst 8 million the titans have ever spent. 3. Tennessee (college) roots. For what it's worth, being closer to home might matter? 4. Crazy Jim Irsay--bringing Andrew Luck up in a division with the last years of an all-time great to battle with will make him that much better. 5. Old Bud Adams--wants that ring! Faster, better way to get it? While hopefully leaving a legacy of hard work and film study for the backups on the roster. This seems to make a lot of sense. Or at least, I want it to make a lot of sense.
Paul Kuharsky: Peyton Manning isn’t from Tennessee; he went to Tenessee. He’s from New Orleans. I’d imagine the Titans would be a team he’d be intrigued by, and I don’t think it’s a crazy idea. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. Other teams will run to him, woo him, and pay him. The Titans don’t generally operate that way. Even if this might be the time to break with their mold, I don’t suspect they will. I am not at all into that other side-effect stuff you refer to regarding Locker, legacy, etc. The question is, would he help them win? If he's healthy, he certainly would. But the same can be said for teams far more desperate at quarterback that will be aggressive.