CHANTILLY, Va. – Though Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay admits he is worried about the NFL's labor uncertainty, he believes it will not affect his team's ability to re-sign quarterback Peyton Manning(notes).
"I'm not concerned," Irsay said. "I think Peyton and I have a special relationship."
While the Colts have declared Manning the team's franchise player, giving him the highest designation possible along with a one-year tender for $23 million, there are many people who wonder if the legal actions the NFL Players Association is expected to take will possibly make Manning a free agent. For instance, the NFLPA contends that the franchise tag should no longer be applicable once the CBA expires.
Still, Irsay sounded confident that Manning, who has yet to sign his tender, will be re-signed to a long-term deal.
"I've always viewed it as a special relationship with the franchise," said Irsay, whose Colts made Manning the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft. "It's not a normal negotiation with the franchise. There's a legacy we share together with the horseshoe in Indianapolis. We've had an extremely close relationship not only with him but his family through the years. I'm confident that he'll be with us for a long time to come and retire a Colt. I really am."
Irsay said all the talk of Manning, a four-time league MVP, becoming a free agent was basically irrelevant.
"You'd have to talk to Peyton or [agent Tom] Condon, but I don't see how that's really relevant because I don't know how someone would really be in play when you've had such a great legacy together," Irsay said. "I know the type of dollars being offered and where I'm at and our relationship. Like I said, it's not a normal contract negotiation by my estimation. It's something that I feel confident he'll be with us and retire a Colt. I really do. That's the way I look at it."
- Jim Irsay