By Mark Solway
Redskins fans are paying close attention to Indianapolis for more than just this week's Super Bowl, yesterday's news about Peyton Manning, would appear to set the stage for a whole lot more news.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Thursday that both Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed Manning's neck surgery, and the Indianapolis Colts team neurosurgeon, have given the quarterback a thumbs up to resuming his NFL career.
Let the circus begin.
Of course it remains to be seen if Manning can return to the form that has made him one of the very best to ever stand under center, but there are going to be a few teams that are at least going to find out how much it's going to cost, to find out what's left in the tank. The Redskins are likely to be one of those teams - they are certainly one of the teams batted around by the national media as one of the potential suitors.
With the Colts owning the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck being available, and Peyton Manning being due a $28-Million roster bonus before the Colts can even trade him - it seems the impossible is looking more and more probable all the time. Peyton Manning may be playing for someone other than the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.
That just sounds funny, doesn't it?
At least the stage seems to be setting up for the exodus of Indy's prodigal son. It once seemed unthinkable that owner Jim Irsay would ever say anything even remotely detrimental about the guy that brought an awful lot of football success to his once dismal franchise, and yet, is there any mistaking the tone of some recent comments?
To further set the stage, Peyton himself seems to be uncharacteristically bleak and vague about his future with the Colts. The stars would appear to be aligning for a very big shake-up in Indianapolis.
If the unthinkable happens, and the Colts cut Manning before having to pay that giant roster bonus - will it turn into a bidding war for Manning's services? Or will many teams be leery of the prospect of paying such a high price for such a high risk?
It's a safe bet that there are going to be some lengthy discussions going on, as to what the Redskins are willing to pay to jump into the mix. While it would be nice to think that Manning will take some incentive-based, short term contract, that isn't ridiculously high in dollars, the reality of it is that without the injury, Manning would have been the top paid quarterback in the NFL in 2012. He will not have to settle for chump change. Someone might get a slight discount, but it isn't going to be any bargain basement discount. It is still going to cost an organization, one of the top 5 quarterback salaries in the league, it just might not be the very top one after the injury.
The Redskins have the money. The Redskins have a surplus of cap for 2012 thanks to not using it all in 2011, and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement allowing teams to take unused cap from the previous season, and add it to the new season's total. Give or take a few dollars, that's an extra $10 million the Redskins will have for salaries in 2012. This will actually be the healthiest Washington has been going into a season cap-wise, in a very long time.
The Redskins also have a lot of holes to fill, and a lot of contracts to tender to existing players on the 2011 roster. Regardless of their glut of cash, there still has to be a modicum of cap sensibility about such a high risk prospect in Manning.
Are the Redskins talking about whether or not they want to jump in to the Manning sweepstakes?
Or how much they can afford, to jump into the Manning sweepstakes?
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