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Saturday, June 5, 2010
Polian cites lack of 'system' in place

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts president Bill Polian understands the contract issues receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Robert Mathis have that are keeping them away from this weekend's mandatory minicamp.

But the uncertainty that comes with the last year of the collective bargaining agreement complicates things in a way that makes it sound highly unlikely either player will be getting a new deal.

"We're not in a regular environment, that's the problem," Polian said. "I've spoken to both their agents, and I certainly respect both men and they make a good case. But the problem is we don't have a system, and without a system you don't know where contracts might or might not fit."

With that being the case, Polian said all he can do is ask for patience while Wayne and Mathis continue to perform at a high level. Each has two years remaining on his deal.

Wayne's deal was a six-year package worth $39 million and $12.5 million up front. Mathis got a six-year, $30 million deal with early bonuses totaling $12.1 million.

Would either have a case under the current system?

"I don't speculate on what things might be," Polian said. "They are what they are, that's the only environment in which you can live."

Speaking in broad terms about the uncertainty -- and not specifically about any of his own contract issues -- Polian sounded as if he's largely on hold.

"It's a jigsaw puzzle, and as one piece fits in then another falls in place and another falls in place," he said. "So the question is, what are the basic concepts and then where you go from there? What does one piece do to all the other pieces? That's the difficulty. You can't predict that, no one knows what it will be. No one knows until the parties sit down and hammer it out what it will be. And a small, little piece over here could change the whole complexion of things.

"So it's futile to plan beyond just baseline kind of planning because you don't know what the final product is going to look like."

Owner Jim Irsay has said he intends to make Peyton Manning the highest-paid player in the NFL, and the four-time league MVP is entering the final year of his current deal.

But the timetable for talks with agent Tom Condon has not been established, Polian said.

"We'll sit down and talk and as we go forward, we'll figure out the various moving pieces and parts and we'll see which way we go," Polian said. "We'll talk, but there is no timetable. I don't put any timetable on it and neither has Jim Irsay . . . Tom and I have always handled those things."

Polian said such talks could occur during or even after the season if they need to.

Paul Kuharsky covers the AFC South for ESPN.com.