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Clock ticking for Colts, Manning


It’s finally March 1. (I spent half of Wednesday thinking it was March 1. OK, all of Wednesday.) In only one week, the Colts must pay quarterback Peyton Manning a fresh $28 million (to go along with the $26 million he received for doing nothing in 2011) or cut him.

At this point, the chances of the Colts paying Manning the $28 million are even lower than the chances of the Colts winning the next Super Bowl. Especially since the Collective Bargaining Agreement supposedly forbids the Colts from watching Peyton throw -- live or on tape -- before making their decision.

But I’ve checked the CBA. There’s no “thou shalt not” language on that specific topic. If the Colts wanted to watch Manning throw (and as Peter King mentioned on Monday’s PFT Live former Vice Chairman Bill Polian was under the impression that the Colts could watch Manning throw), they would watch him throw. Sure, there’s a chance someone would have said that the labor deal implies that such activities are frowned upon in this establishment, but when faced with a $28 million dilemma, the cost of a team getting its knuckles rapped for a no-harm technical violation of the CBA is far lower than the cost of paying $28 million to a guy who ends up having the arm strength of a pre-op Steve Austin.

The more likely explanation is that the Colts don’t want to watch Manning throw. Then, when the folks in Indy break out the torches and the pitchforks, owner Jim Irsay can post a tweet or two explaining, in vaguely decipherable English, that he can’t be expected to give $28 million to a player that his coaching staff and front office can’t watch throw a football following a quartet of neck procedures.

Look for Irsay to also invite Manning, once he’s a free agent, to come show the team he can throw, which the CBA and any applicable league rules permit. And look for Irsay to suggest that the Colts would be willing to pay Manning as much as any other team will pay him, once the team has a chance to inspect his ability to throw the ball.

Then, if/when (when) Peyton passes on the opportunity to pass for the Colts, Irsay can make one last return to Twitter and declare that Peyton isn’t a Colt not because the Colts didn’t want Peyton but because Peyton didn’t want the Colts.

The truth, of course, is both. The Colts want to move on, and Manning wants to move on. The sooner it happens, the sooner we can get on to the much bigger question of where Manning will play, if anywhere, in 2012.