I'm preparing to move in less than 48 hours, but here are my quick thoughts on a huge Saturday for the Colts.
- Peyton signs a huge deal, that isn't quite as huge as it could have been. First, it's important to recognize that the conspiracy theories around why Peyton reversed course and agreed to a smaller than expected deal have a lot going for them. I don't know if Phil B. Wilson nailed every detail, but I think his analysis of the timeline makes sense. Something doesn't jive. Personally, I do buy that Irsay helped the situation come to a positive conclusion by adding pressure to Peyton. The fact is that things changed a lot between January and July in the NFL landscape, and the pressure on Manning to score a huge win for the union was lifted and replaced by pressure to appease a grumpy public ready to see NFL players as greedy. Irsay fed that beast all week, and I think it paid off.
- Having said that, I don't think what Peyton did was any less meritorious. Manning didn't have to cave to the pressure, be it from management, the fans, or the locker room. He didn't have to care how he was viewed. He stepped up and did the right thing, and he deserves to be seen as a hero for it. Imagine you worked at a job where you were way better than everyone else, and did most of the work too. Then the boss said, "I want you to take a pay cut because I have these other employees that are less valuable, some of whom are terrible at their jobs, who I need to pay!". You'd be angry. Peyton stepped up and took less.
- Somehow the idea of Manning and Irsay arguing over whether to pay him more than Tom Brady strikes me as hilarious. I don't know if I believe it, but it's sure fun to think about.
- Manning's deal turns out to be great news for Joe Addai. I've been saying for months that I didn't expect Joe back, but I'd be happy if he was signed at the right price. I think his return makes the Colts stronger, but we need to stop seeing Joe as a lead back. To prolong his career, the Colts might want to think about having him evolve into a third down, specialty back. Let Carter do some pounding on first and second down.
- Manning's deal means that the Colts' next franchise quarterback is in high school right now. He's not in college, and they won't be drafting him any time soon. Remember that come next April.
- Manning is on pace to pass all of Favre's marks around 2015. I don't see him going more than one year beyond this deal.
- Kelvin Hayden got released. This was a shocker given the cap ramifications, but it makes sense when you consider the effect of Manning's deal. The Colts chewed up a lot of cap space this year eating Hayden's bonus money, but saved real dollars on his salary. Because Manning's cap number is about $7 million less than maybe they had planned on, it allows them to wipe Hayden clean off the books. This means that dead money from Hayden and Sanders will be dealt with now, and the Colts should have more room next off season. The Hayden contract ultimately ends in disappointment. It was a tough call to resign him, and the Colts should have stuck with their plan of letting corners walk. Live and learn.
- It makes no sense to bring Hayden back now. It would have been better to renegotiate if they planned on keeping him at all. I don't think they want him back.
- Hayden's dead money could likely go to Robert Mathis and/or Reggie Wayne next year. I don't want Wayne back except at the right price. They should pay Mathis whatever he wants.
- In the chaos of my life and all the news, I noted on Twitter that Ryan Diem was released. That's not been confirmed as of this moment. I got mixed up in other things I've been reading. Dan Graham reported it's going to happen, but there's been no announcement. I apologize for the confusion. Graham is a ex-media member of sorts who has been reporting this weekend.
- I don't know if Diem or CJ come back, but I frankly don't want Indy to retain either. I'd rather the Colts find a stop-gap tackle somewhere else, but I suspect I'll have to live with one of the two.
- I do think the Colts will sign a DT, but it'll be a veteran type that fans shouldn't get too fired up over. No one out there will transform the D-line. Picking up some second-tier bargain bin free agents is smart. It in no way goes against the things I said yesterday.
- No one has said it yet, but the Jaguars sudden free-agency splurge strikes me as a desperate move to sell tickets. The team is in real trouble, and by making a series of splashy and ill-advised free agent signings, the Jaguars have certainly stirred up their fan base. I'm on record now: it's a massive mistake, and they will pay for it.