Agent: Peyton Manning will be back
Peyton Manning's agent said Friday his client will play again, but he couldn't give a timetable of when he will be at full strength throwing the football.
"He's doing great," Tom Condon said. "Rehab is doing fine. He's relentless with his work ethic as you would expect. As he gets stronger and you get farther away from the injury, it's not much different than an ACL except that it's a different body part. It takes a good deal of time.
"How long? I don't have any idea. I don't know if there is any way to quantify that or measure it. I do know he's much farther along than he was after the surgery."
Whether he stays with the Colts past a March contract deadline remains questionable, and the team released a brief statement addressing the matter Friday afternoon.
"Peyton Manning, Jim Irsay and the entire Colts family remain close and unified as we continue to work through all the options that relate to his future with the Colts," the statement said.
It was featured above a photo from a Thursday night "Colts party" that included Manning, commissioner Roger Goodell and Colts owner Jim Irsay standing arm-to-arm.
"The present focus is on the Super Bowl and the great game that awaits," the news release said. "A good time was had by all at the Colts party Thursday night."
Manning's doctors have medically cleared him to be able to resume his football career after three surgeries, including a neck-fusion procedure.
The damaged nerve in Manning's neck still hasn't fully regenerated and it has diminished the strength of the tricep muscle in his right arm.
Manning has been throwing the football but Condon indicated there are limitations to the number of throws he makes in a day.
"He's paying attention to the how many throws he's making," Condon said, also noting trainers are trying to make sure he doesn't do too much. "He's like a mule. He'll stay out there all day if you let him."
On Thursday night via Twitter, Irsay said Manning hasn't been medically cleared to play by Colts doctors.
Condon said Manning will wait until Irsay makes a decision whether or not to pay him a $28 million option bonus due March 8 to extend his contract for four more years and that he has not been in communication with other teams that might be interested if Manning is released -- because Manning's rights belong to the Colts, by rule he can't communicate.
"There is nobody on the radar," Condon said. "We haven't talked to anyone. He's under contact with the Colts, and if they want to exercise the option, they do. If they have to make a business decision and (Irsay) doesn't then that's that."
There is growing speculation Irsay won't exercise the option bonus and many are thinking the relationship is heading to a divorce.
"I don't know if this is a divorce because in a divorce you've got some unplanned separation," Condon said. "There is no dispute here. Everybody planned for exactly where we are in regards to the contract. Peyton wants to play and if he's safe to play then it's a matter of him getting all of his strength back and then he will be back to being Peyton."
Manning agreed to a one-year contract that gave the Colts the option to extend the deal four more years if they wished. The option bonus is due five days before the start of free agency.
Condon said technically Manning could extend the March 8 deadline but that it probably wouldn't happen.
"Yeah, you can pretty much do anything except increasing the amount of the contract after one year," Condon said. "You can do anything you want. We did the first contract, the second contract, the third all for a purpose. I don't know what benefit it we would get out of changing it."
Irsay and Manning are expected to meet after the Super Bowl.
John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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