INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning's refusal to accept a contract proposal from the Indianapolis Colts during last week's bye and informing the team he'd prefer to wait until after the season to complete a new deal was a strategic move aimed at giving the quarterback "maximum leverage," an NFL source said.
Irsay, as he had previously, stressed that he would make Manning the highest-paid player in the NFL. He did not reveal specifics, although he did say that the recent contract Tom Brady signed with the New England Patriots would provide a foundation for the Manning negotiations.
"The Patriots got it done during the season," Irsay said. "We had the bye week and I think we could have got rolling more, but also understand about waiting until the end. That was fine with us. It wasn't a shock or anything like that."
Nevertheless, a league source pointed out that Manning and Condon believe that whatever the Colts would offer now would be less than what it would pay after the season.
"Not dramatically," the source said, "but (their offer would) probably (be) not as much (now)."
Does the fact the Manning deal won't be completed during the season create the possibility of the NFL's only four-time MVP not remaining with the Colts?
"He isn't going anywhere," the source said emphatically.