I get it. Jim Irsay is in a tough spot.
He can’t pay Peyton Manning what he’s scheduled to make, but letting an icon go is hard and comes with serious ramifications from a team’s fan base. The Colts' owner has to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick while looking to the future but knows a healthy Manning could be far better in the present.
“We want this to be his decision,’’ Irsay told ESPN on Tuesday. "We want him back if he wants to come back. We can work out the contract if he wants to work it out. It’s going to be Peyton’s call. ...
"We can work out the contract if he wants to come back. We want him to make the call. He’s earned that. We want him to have the chance of finishing his career here if that’s what he wants to do.’’
Spare me this, please. Spare us all. Tough spot or not, it’s more spin attempting to gain high ground on a guy Irsay simply can’t outclimb.
A healthy Manning won’t want to surrender any practice work to Luck, and so immediately Luck’s growth will be stunted by the legend in front of him. Luck doesn’t need time on the bench. How exactly does Manning finish his career in Indy when Luck has to play by 2013?
One year of such a situation would be OK, but then everyone would face this whole complicated predicament again in a year, perhaps minus the cap complications, provided Manning would redo the deal now.
It’s not about the money. Manning has indicated he's willing to sign an incentive-laden deal that would reflect the uncertainty of his health if he's set free, so why not in Indy? Well, it’s about having leverage and being able to get in the best situation.
Call him greedy if you like. If I’m Manning, I’d prefer to be free and see just how interested the rest of the league is in me. The Colts with new GM Ryan Grigson, new coach Chuck Pagano and a lot of veteran players in limbo don't look to be a great setup for a late-career Super Bowl push.
Irsay has talked in the recent past like money wouldn’t be the issue. That's was a careless thing to say when eventual dead money charges on the cap, not just cash expenditures, are at issue. He's changed his stance, and money is the issue for him now.
If I am Manning, here is the one way I’d consider trimming my deal: if I really felt like I wouldn’t be able to throw well enough to convince a new team to sign me before everyone has to make decisions on their quarterbacks.
Irsay told The Indianapolis Star he expects to meet with Manning within the next seven days to discuss the quarterback's future in Indy.
But Irsay sure seems to love the limelight that’s coming with this. He said before the Super Bowl that he thought they’d meet soon after the title game. And that didn’t happen. Maybe it’s Manning delaying things? We don’t know.
I won’t be surprised, however, if in seven days we hear from Irsay, likely via Twitter, that the meeting still hasn't happened.
He’s got until March 8 to keep spinning, after all.