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Manning might not be available after all ... maybe

Throughout the ever expanding Peyton Manning saga, there's been one bothersome thought that has continued to hound my mind ... and my mind hasn't appreciated the overtime work.

ESPN reported a couple of weeks ago that Manning will be open to an incentive-laden contract in which he would be paid little or no guaranteed money up front with his new team and that he would have to earn every cent he makes strictly through performance.

That got me wondering if Manning would do that for his expected new team why wouldn't he do it for his old team -- you know, the Colts, the team for which he's played 14 seasons and is the face and heart and soul of the franchise?

Well, that's exactly what Manning might have the opportunity to do if you can believe Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay. Irsay spoke with the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday and made the point he wants Manning to return to the Colts as long as Manning restructures his contract.

"We can make it work if he wants to be here," Irsay told the Star. "We'd 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 if he can get healthy and we can look at doing a contract that reflects the uncertainty of the ... healing process with the rengeneration of the nerve."

Suddenly, every team that fancies Manning has to feel a bit disappointed that the almost-certain divorce that seemed destined to happen by March 8th might not actually happen. Manning, as you probably have heard ad nauseum, is due a $28 million bonus on March 8 and if he's not paid that amount, he becomes a free agent.

The Colts have no intention of paying that bonus. But now they have put the ball in Manning's court, basically asking the quarterback to restructure his deal.

The proverbial ball is now in Manning's court. He can still refuse to restructure his contract and get out of Indy. But that would make him a villian in his own town. He can accept the restructure, but then he'll find himself on a team that is diminished by age and is no longer considered a Super Bowl contender -- even with Manning.

So that certain chase of Peyton Manning that everyone in Miami, Washington, and other NFL outposts that value the veteran may not happen. Assuming the worst for the Dolphins -- because that's what I've learned to do after the past decade of team history -- where does it leave them if their priority QB addition is no longer available?

It is funny to me that suddenly the talk of Manning's uncertain health situation has taken a back seat to where Manning is actually headed. Manning has undergone three neck surgeries in the past 20 months. He is waiting for the latest surgery to help nerves connecting to his triceps, which has suffered atrophy and was often numb as a result of the deadened nerves that the surgery was supposed to regenerate.

In rehabilitating from his cervical surgery, Manning has talked often to former FSU quarterback Chris Weinke who had a similar surgery in 1998 and sat out the end of the season before returning in 1999 to lead the Seminoles to the national title.

Weinke will be on Armando and Perk this morning at 8:30ish. You can watch the show here during the interview or anytime between 6-10 a.m.

 

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