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Titans’ ‘for-life’ contract offer to Manning may be a way to gain salary cap advantage

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Peyton Manning signs autographs for Titans fans last October. (Getty Images)

Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams has been going hard at Peyton Manning ever since the quarterback became a free agent, and it seems that Adams may have come up with an interesting way to sweeten the pot. Adams' intent to make Manning a fixture of the Titans franchise "for life" may actually be a novel way to give Manning certain advantages he may not receive from other teams.

According to Fox Sports' Alex Marvez, the Titans could offer Manning, who spent a large part of Wednesday meeting with team officials and coaches, the promise of a front-office position after his career is over, without any financial promise affecting the Titans' salary cap situation over the life of any deal covering Manning's football-playing days. Marvez reports that the promise of a front-office position would not promote any kind of cap hit, but that the position offered must be considered fair market value for the position.

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In other words, if the Titans decided to put a similar offer on the table to those presented by other teams, and then chose to add some sort of seven-figure-per-year deal for a nebulous position later on, there's nothing to prevent that from happening.

As Marvez hypothesizes, this could set a very interesting precedent for other teams looking to beat their competitors out for elite free agents. The league would have to approve any contract, including one offering additional positions after on-field duty, but even if the NFL's Management Council approves the deal ahead of time, it doesn't mean that the Titans are entirely off the hook.

As was recently seen in the Management Council's decision to strip millions of dollars in salary cap space from the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, alleged offenses on contracts that were approved by the league can fall outside the purview of the CBA if the NFL chooses to backtrack and deem certain deals to be outside the lines.

Marvez recalled a situation in 2000, when the San Francisco 49ers were fined $300,000 and stripped of third- and fifth-round draft picks after offering two players (including tight end Brent Jones) contract work in the offseason to promote the team's campaign to get a new stadium. So, Adams had best be careful -- even if his gambit seems legal at this time, it's not out of the question for the other owners to decide otherwise.

The Titans are one of four teams seriously in the hunt for Manning's services -- they're in competition with the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.

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