Manning, Colts face Friday deadline on new deal

Contract talks between Peyton Manning and the Colts could extend until 4 p.m. ET Friday, according to league sources with knowledge of the quarterback’s deal with the team.

It’s been widely reported that Manning’s future with the Colts will come into focus by Thursday, when his $28 million option for the 2012 season is due amid speculation that the team will not pick it up.

However, talks between the two sides on a renegotiated deal could actually extend another day, sources said.

Per the contract, the non-exercise payment date is set for two days before the start of the new league year, which falls on Tuesday/ (the option bonus itself is set for five days before the start of the league year). According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, weekends don’t count as part of the league year at this time; Saturday, March 17 currently counts, but not any weekend prior to that date. For the purposes of Manning’s contract, two days before the start of the league year would mean by the end of the waiver period on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

The $28 million non-exercise fee is the same amount as the option bonus itself. So, the Colts would have to act by Friday in terms of releasing him or having a new deal done to avoid paying that fee, but they technically could do as little as notifying Manning by Thursday that they do not plan to pick up that option.

Even if the Colts don’t pay the option Thursday, they do not have to cut Manning at that time if owner Jim Irsay chooses to continue dialogue on a restructured contract. The actual deadline to work something out would be Friday.

Thursday will settle the question of the team paying Manning his $28 million bonus. If talks go beyond that day, he obviously won’t be receiving that money,
but it might not mean the Colts plan to part with him entirely.

Of course, the team could go ahead and announce by Thursday that they aren’t picking up the option and that Manning won’t be back, thus making him a free agent. Of course, it all might not play out until Friday. If nothing else, this keeps Manning off the market until only a few days before free agency starts on March 13.

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @JasonLaCanfora

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