Franchise Tag Best for Both Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts

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It’s quite fitting that the Indianapolis Colts have designated quarterback Peyton Manning as their “franchise player” by applying the franchise tag on the four-time NFL MVP.

The Colts tagged Manning earlier this week with an “exclusive” label, ensuring that the Super Bowl XLI MVP would not become a free agent (whenever free agency begins).

Under the franchise tag, a player is ensured a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salaries at his respective position or 120 percent of the player’s salary the previous season. Since Manning earned more than the average the top five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, he’ll receive the latter option, which will approximate to $23 million.

By Drew Allen

That certainly would make Manning the highest-paid player in league history, something Colts owner Jim Irsay has publicly wished to do for the greatest player in his franchise’s history in Indianapolis.

Given the uncertainty of the labor situation in the NFL and the complications it will cause for contract negotiations, not only was this undoubtedly the right move for the Colts; it actually empowers Manning and his agent, Tom Condon, as well.

Most would probably view the tag as holding players hostage (and putting them at risk of financially devastating injury) for a year if a long-term deal can’t be reached. In Manning’s case, however, the designation could give the quarterback something of a bargaining chip. Condon could lobby on Manning’s behalf that Irsay and Colts President Bill Polian pay Manning an annual salary of $23 million — the amount he’ll make as the franchise player — as part of his pending new contract. The man is in for quite a pay day either way.

On the Colts’ side, it’s pretty obvious the organization had to franchise Manning. As I mentioned earlier, the labor situation is heavily complicating contract negotiations. Once the current collective bargaining agreement expires, no business transactions or negotiations can be made. 

With the March 3 deadline rapidly approaching, Indy could not afford to let Manning’s contract expire along with the CBA. Who knows when that thing is going to get resolved? And when it finally does, Manning’s rights (presumably) still will remain with the Colts. Were the 13-year veteran not tagged, it would have been open season for any other team interested in his services whenever a new CBA were to come into effect.

All things considered, most notably this odd time of uncertainty for the NFL, giving Manning the franchise tag is the ideal move for both player and team. Manning will become the highest-paid player in league history, and the Colts will keep the player who has meant so much to their success over the past decade.

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