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Manning to Colts: Spend elsewhere

7/30/2011

Peyton Manning conveyed a strong message to Colts owner Jim Irsay on Thursday and shared it with Mike Chappell on Friday: Spend elsewhere.

“While I appreciate Jim Irsay offering to make me the highest-paid player, I told him I’d rather he save that money and keep whoever it is . . . Joe Addai, Charlie Johnson, whoever that may be.

“I’m willing to take less than they’ve offered if they are going to take that money to keep players we need to keep and go get other players. All I want is for them to have the cap and the cash to keep the players they want to keep and to sign other players.’’

Colts fans will really like the “go get other players” part of that.

Manning also instructed his agent, Tom Condon, and the Colts on his desired timetable: “Today, tomorrow, definitely by Sunday.” He said rumors swirling that suggested he’d asked for as much as $25 million annually did not start with him.

The Colts report to Anderson, Ind., on Sunday and begin practicing Monday, although Manning will not be on the field at the start, as he is still recovering from neck surgery.

“I told [Irsay and Bill Polian] my cap numbers can be as low as they want them to be in being creative with the salary cap,’’ Manning said.

Tom Brady’s contract averages $18 million a year. The franchise tag number currently connected to Manning is $23 million. Even a very big long-term deal will drive that down.

The new salary cap is $120.3 million, with an additional $3 million of wiggle room.

Chappell reports veteran right tackle Ryan Diem has been asked to trim his $5.4 million salary or be released. He also wrote that the team is in discussions with Addai and Johnson.

A Manning deal that doesn’t push the limits should be able to be completed in short order. And if the Colts want to be able to pursue one or two outside free agents, there will be fewer and fewer available as they sign in the coming days.

Manning is doing the Colts a huge favor here -- he's not obligated to help them manage their cap. By doing so, he has the potential to come across as heroic while also increasing his chances of winning a second Super Bowl.

A true win-win.