Okay, to bring this site up to speed, I wanted to sum up some of the recent activities related to Manning.
1. Two days ago, Irsay said that he would be happy to bring Peyton back to the Colts, but only if a deal could be struck.
To quote Irsay from Indy Star:
“We can make it work if he wants to be here,’’ Irsay said today. “We’d be excited to have him back and finish his career with us.
“I want him to be able to make the choice. We would love to have him back here if he can get healthy and we can look at doing a contract that reflects the uncertainty of the . . . healing process with the regeneration of the nerve.’’
So, if we take this at face value, and not some politicking by Irsay, it's possible to get Manning back this year and work some incentive laden contract, assuming, as we all know, that first Manning must be seen as healthy. His relative health may drive the relative amount Irsay is willing to pay. And this says nothing about Manning starting. Just being on the team. But we can assume Manning will make sure it means starting.
2. According to Don Banks at SI, Manning actually had another "procedure" mixed in with his surgeries between late May and early September.
Not sure if this is private knowledge for parties involved, or not. I gotta believe Irsay knew/knows this since it happened before Polian was let go. And further, Manning has allegedly developed some bone spurs near the surgery. Now another report says that the bone spurs are not a big deal.
The article further describes Manning pushing to play the last week of the season, even going as far as running a full-speed scrimmage in front of Irsay and Polian, against the wishes of his doctor. Reports of that scrimmage are that it was a red-zone test, and was setup specifically to be within his range of throwing (about 25 yards). According to reports, he threw at about 80% speed and, although some of the passes were wobbly, they were otherwise good passes. However, in the end he was not cleared by Colts medical staff to play.
3. According to NFL.com, Polian understands Irsay's position to being receptive of a rework of Manning's contract that included incentive laden specifics so that Manning would be paid only if he could produce.
Polian makes it sound like an easy affair, saying:
"I think the only response that's required is that they sit down and talk about it, and define what a restructured contract would look like"
So those folks saying that this is impossible to negotiate due to NFLPA rules and that a contract cannot be changed are completely wrong.
"I've said all along, to anyone that's asked, that a) the date of March 8 can be moved by mutual agreement and b) the contract could always be restructured. Those two situations have existed from Day 1. Whether those two parties want that to happen, and whether they can make it happen, is what remains to be seen. ..."
So, I've gotta believe Polian is "in the know". The bottom line is whether Manning and Irsay can negotiate a contract that reflects Manning's current health, and compensates him on future performance, and that creates a salary situation that's friendly to a first round QB pick, and restocking the team. Irsay all along has said that money is not an issue if they can work out a deal based on Manning's health (assuming he's health).
Various articles indicate that Manning and Irsay should be meeting in the next few weeks, since the March 9th deadline is fast approaching.