Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Feb 2011

Peyton Manning Gets the Franchise Tag

Shocking news: The Colts want to keep Peyton Manning. He's the latest player to receive the franchise tag.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 15 Feb 2011

32 comments, Last at 18 Feb 2011, 12:31pm by BSR


by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 7:37pm

So how does the calculation work when multiple guys at the same position are franchised?

Once Vick is franchised, he's knocking someone out of the top 5 in QB pay. Is his new salary factored into the calculation for Manning? Do they just get paid the same?

by graywh :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:51pm

It's based on the previous year's salaries. Manning would get the greater of average of the top 5 and 120% of his own salary.

by Justin Zeth :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 7:47pm

I think that since Manning was already in the top 5, he just gets a 20% bump over his 2010 cap number.

Interesting question: Will any team out there seriously consider giving up the two first rounders plus the colossal contract? (I don't think Manning would entertain leaving the Colts unless they really dissed him, but it's fun to imagine Dan Snyder holding meetings.)

by DZ (not verified) :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 7:55pm

Franchise players can't field offers from other teams. It's an exclusive deal.

This isn't the same as a restricted rights free agent.

by Spielman :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:21am

There are two varieties of the franchise tag. The one is an exclusive deal, as you say. The other is not exclusive, and the player can indeed field offers from other teams, with the tagging team retaining the right to match, or to receive two first round picks in compensation if they choose not to match.

Manning was of course given the exclusive version of the tag, so you're right, nobody can try to sign him.

by Dan :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:19am

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a team that was willing to trade two firsts, a third, and Jay Cutler for Peyton Manning.

by Anonymous (Not Verified) (not verified) :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 8:58am

And then sign a zombie to play LT, causing Manning to get beat up badly?

by Bobman :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 1:09am

That is an interesting, if perverse, question. Worthy of Asimov or Bradbury. I bet that act would hurt both teams in different ways. The Colts would instantly drop out of "perennial contender-dom" but with two extra firsts, ample cap space, and a playoff-seasoned team, they'd hopefully sign some competent QB to guide them for a couple 9-7 seasons until the heir showed up, and long term (assuming Manning would have retired in 4-5 years anyway) they'd be okay. Short term, though, ouch.

The other team would have instant credibility, but they still need a decent team and the right kind of team around him. I bet in a new O and with new teammates, it would take him 3/4 of a season to resemble the same Manning we've seen the past 7 seasons, so it may not really pay off in year one. The clock is ticking.... Plus, depending on how the new team is constructed (cap room, how much they rely on the draft, etc) they might do okay until he retires, but be hurt long-term by missing two first rounders and replacing them with a guy who's great, but only playing five years or so.

A ton of new jersey sales, however, and New England fans would have yet another team to hate, so there's that....

Be kind of funny if the Colts rebounded in year three, and Manning and his new teammates rounded off the rough edges by then so they met in the SB. In that game, I'm laying my money on Manning and covering my eyes during the "Jason David effect" (AKA Nick Harper Effect) during which he emasculates his former DB teammates.

by dryheat :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 1:56pm

The Vikings would probably be first in line, but I have more fun imagining the Titans making a big move for him.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:33pm

Team that actually should do it: the Jets.

Won't, of course. But should.

by andrew :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 8:27pm

Is this rampant tagging something some kind of organized ploy by the owners?

by Spielman :: Tue, 02/15/2011 - 9:14pm

No, it's just sensible under the circumstances. Nobody knows what the circumstances of the CBA that eventually gets signed will be, or whether it will come on March 2nd, September 1st, or sometime next year. Why sign any important player to a long-term deal now? Why structure a deal in the dark? And even more important, why give a big signing bonus to a guy who might not see the field for another year? Better to use the tag.

by Dean :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 10:08am

Is this tagging really even sufficient to be called rampant?

by BSR :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 7:35am

This is obviously a sign that there are problems between the Colts and Manning. Why else wouldn't a deal have been done? It has nothing to do with uncertainty. There are plenty of big deals being done despite the uncertainty.

by DavidL :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 8:55am

No, it's as Spielman said. With the next CBA a completely unknown quantity, nobody knows how the salary cap will work for the next seven to eight years, which makes signing long-term deals a fool's gamble for both sides. Best to stick with the franchise tag and its one-year contracts.

by BSR :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:16pm

Again, there are plenty of big long term contracts that were signed this year so it isn't like it couldn't be done. The bottom line is they talked and then couldn't come to an agreement and broke off talks. It wasn't like the CBA was a known quality when they begun talks. If it was as you said, they wouldn't have even begun talks last year. Whatever the reason is for breaking off talks, the fact is he is currently not signed and to a long term deal and that should be a terryfying thought to colts fans. In the end I think he will sign that long term deal but it still opens the window, no matter how slight, that something can come in here and muck things up or that there is some doubt in someones mind.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:53pm

I think you might be reading too much into this. It's not like it hasn't happened before.

by Spielman :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 2:29pm

Or maybe Peyton Manning spiked the negotiations because he's planning on founding and funding a new league to take advantage of the NFL's absence, one that would gain instant credibility because he'd be playing in it.

Or yeah, maybe it's just hard to figure out how best to protect yourself when signing a great player to a long-term contract in his mid-30's, Manning and his agent didn't like the solutions the Colts came up with, so they're going to wait it out.

Y'know, whichever is simpler.

by BSR :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:41pm

What if they never come up with a better solution than the ones the Colt's came up with? What comes after highest paid in the league?

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 5:34pm

The franchise tag is a placeholder. The Colts will sign Manning to a new deal as soon as the CBA is finalized, but don't want other teams to sniff in the meantime, and don't want Manning to feel like the Colts don't want him. Solution: A big 1 year franchise number based on the biggest year in one of the biggest contracts ever, which will be converted to a long term deal as soon as the half of the terms of long term deals that come from the CBA rather than private contract are finalized.

by tuluse :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 3:34pm

How many long term contracts have been signed in 2011?

by BSR :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:34pm

So you are saying there was no way they could have signed an extension prior to 2011?

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 7:29pm

The Colts tagged Manning back in 2004 before signing him to the deal back then. They tagged Freeney before signing him long term back in 2007. This is just par for the course for the Colts.

by BSR :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:37pm

Probably, but then every once in a while things don't go as planned. Remember in this case Manning was the one that broke off negotiations.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 10:03pm

If they enter the 2011 season (if there is one) without a long-term deal, I'll be worried.

by Barry (not verified) :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 7:58pm

No, I think he's right. Manning didn't sign the first thing offered to him, so obviously there are underlying issues, and he wants out. It's as plain on the nose on your face....isn't it?

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 8:39pm

As Michael Bluth would say "It's as Ann as the nose on Plain's face!"

by BSR :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 9:39pm

Isray has already said they want to make him the highest paid player. What's the hold up?

by Jerry :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 10:58pm

Two likely holdups: (1) Not wanting to pay a large bonus when revenue is likely to shut down within a month. (2) Wanting to see what the system is when agreement is reached on a CBA. Even if the parameters of a deal between Manning and the Colts are in place, exactly how to structure it will depend on whatever cap mechanism comes to be.

by Spielman :: Wed, 02/16/2011 - 11:27pm

Oddball reference because I've had a fantastic day and am feeling puckish: At the end of The Muppet Movie, Orson Welles offers Kermit the Frog and co. the "standard rich and famous" contract. If Kermit hadn't signed *that* right away, you'd have been justified in asking what the hold up was. Manning's "Highest Paid Player" contract is more complicated.

The Colts could be trying to pad the numbers of the deal, using incentives or backloading to create a contract that seems to satisfy the "highest paid player" claims without actually committing to paying him that much. More likely, they are simply balking at paying out a huge signing bonus with the 2011 season in doubt, and are putting too much of the first year money into salary, which Manning very well may never see. It's just not that easy.

by Barry (not verified) :: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 2:12pm

So because Irsay has made that statement, then that's the end of the negotiating process?
Here's an incredibly simplistic example for you, that might help give an insight to what might be happening.
Manning's agent walks into Polian;s office.
Manning Agent: "Hi Bill. Irsay is on record saying he'll make Peyton the highest paid player in the league. That's awesome. Peyton wants a 4 year contract, worth $150 mil with $75 mil guaranteed. That'd about do it wouldn't it?"
Bill Polian : "..."

Yeah...contract negotiations are usually easy as pie.

by BSR :: Fri, 02/18/2011 - 12:31pm

Everyone wants to make an excuse as to why this deal isn't done, most of the blame being put on the CBA. The truth is probably more like the simple illustration you present above. There is a disconnect between the two sides that goes back to last summer. There is nothing to suggest that disconnect is resolved just because the CBA issue is resolved. The CBA is the impediment in the short term but this has been a long term negotiation and disconnect.