Peyton Manning has chosen the Broncos. Here are some notes on the process.
Conflict of interest?
Was there a conflict of interest for agent Tom Condon in representing Manning and a quarterback whom Manning might've replaced, Alex Smith (also a free agent)? There is, but this is commonplace in the NFL.
The NFL Players Association certifies about 900 agents, and a handful of top agents/firms represent many of the elite players. Naturally, clients compete for money or, as is the case here, position. Conflicts exist.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus represents DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, both star players on the Eagles trying to earn as much as possible of the limited negotiable dollars the team has on offense. David Dunn represents QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, competing to start for the Titans. Those are just two of the scores of conflicts that agents have around the league.
The agent-player relationship is built on trust; that's especially important when these conflicts arise. The issue is not whether there are conflicts, but whether the conflicts are being disclosed and managed. Unless and until we see Smith or Manning leave Condon, the conflict would appear to be managed.
The Decision: Part 2
Interestingly, Condon's firm, Creative Artists Agency, was heavily involved in the NBA's version of "The Decision" two years ago, representing LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. This year, CAA was behind a much more low-key decision, an NFL version with a far more humble player.
Titans owner Bud Adams uttered the words that every agent lives to hear, saying he will "do what it takes" to sign Manning. The Titans' front office must have cringed, knowing how that statement shifted the leverage.
Adams' comments elicited questions about offering Manning partial ownership of the Titans. Although there are no express prohibitions in the collective bargaining agreement, there would be sizable hurdles.
All ownership transfers must go through a vetting process of the NFL office, the NFL finance committee and the full NFL membership. The process can take months.
Further, all compensation to players must be valued under the salary cap. So, let's say Manning were offered a 1 percent share, and the Titans are valued at $1 billion. That would give Manning's share a value of $10 million, correct?
Not so fast. The valuation would have to factor in future increases in things such as television and licensing revenue, a complicated and lengthy appraisal process.
The contract ahead
We know Manning's next contract will not be an incentive-laden deal. There will be incentives, but they will be layered on top of what should be a heavy guarantee.
Because there were multiple suitors, the question is whether it will rival the contract just terminated by the Colts, with $26.4 million in the first year (already earned by Manning) and an $18 million average over the life of the deal.
Speaking of the Colts ...
Many have asked about the Colts' potentially receiving a compensatory pick in next year's draft for losing Manning. They will not.
Compensatory picks make up for losses of unrestricted free agents -- players who had contracts expire and signed with other teams. Manning's contract did not expire; he was released. As is the case with Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Dallas Clark and others who are part of the "post-Peyton purge," the Colts will receive no compensation from parting with their four-time MVP.