Jim Irsay has put the public relations ball back into Peyton Mannings court.
The Colts owner told the Indianapolis Star that the door is very much open to the return of Manning, the teams quarterback since 1998. But just not at the price previously negotiated.We can make it work if he wants to be here. Wed be excited to have him back and finish his career with us.
I want him to be able to make the choice. We would love to have him back here if he can get healthy and we can look at doing acontract that reflects the uncertainty of the . . . healing process with the regeneration of the nerve.The key words there are we can make it work if he wants to be here. That is Irsay washing his hands of any responsibility for Mannings departure. If Manning goes to another team, Irsay can always tell Colts fans, hey, we left the door open and Peyton chose not to walk through it.
The revelation that Manning had a fourth medical procedure (SI.coms Don Banks, who broke the story, clarified on Twitter that the procedure was not necessarily a surgery) done on his neck last summer and that he may have bone spurs in his neck popped up yesterday. Although it appears that the story has been floating around writers on the Colts beat for a while, the confirmation that came yesterday certainly added another twist to the end game.
There might be some good reasons for Manning to choose to leave. The contract that Irsay offers may not be close to what he can get elsewhere. And it seems almost certain that regardless of what Manning decides to do the Colts will take Andrew Luck with the top pick in the draft. How long would the Colts keep the quarterback everyone says is the top prospect at his position since, well, Peyton Manning on the bench? Would Manning spend the last years of his career as a spectator watching Luck master the position?
All that doesnt mean that Manning wont decide to stay in Indy. If his arm is not going to be full strength until sometime in the summer, he may be better off with the Colts rather than going on a months-long quest for a new team. He might just decide that the upside of staying outweighs the downside.
Many thought that a decision on Mannings future with the Colts would be reached by the time the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium started. That event starts a week from tomorrow and it doesnt appear that we will know any more then than we do now.