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Colts will have a hard time trading Manning

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 13: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts signs autographs before the start of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

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As the Colts move closer and closer to clinching the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, some have suggested that the Colts could trade Peyton Manning if they know they’ll be getting Luck-y.

Not so fast, my friend. (Which is now officially Lee Corso’s second best catch phrase.)

Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported during Football Night in America that Manning’s $28 million option bonus is due before the start of the 2012 league year. Since no trades can happen until after the 2012 league year begins, the Colts won’t be able to trade Manning before the $28 million comes due.

And that means the Colts will be less likely to trade him after paying him another $28 million.

Of course, Manning could give the Colts some relief by agreeing to postpone the due date, if only by a few days. But here’s the thing. What’s in it for Manning? If there’s a team that he’d like to play for and if that team is willing to pay him $28 million to walk through the door, why tie his new team’s hands by forcing the new team to give up two first-round picks or more to the Colts? Those picks could be used to help improve Manning’s new team.

Thus, it’s in Manning’s best interests, if he’s going to leave Indy, to refuse to change the date and force his release.

Regardless of how it works out, it’ll be one of the most compelling stories of the offseason.