If Peyton Manning has played his final down in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts might not be on the hook for the remainder of the five-year, $90 million contract extension the quarterback signed July 31.
NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reported Friday that Manning would be eligible for termination pay in the amount of $1 million in 2012 and $500,000 in 2013 if his recent neck surgery prevents him from playing again, according to a league source. Manning's contract includes a $28 million non-guaranteed option and a separate $28 million non-exercise fee in place if Indianapolis chooses not to pick up the previous option, the source told Lombardi.
According to Lombardi, terms of the deal leave a small window in which the Colts could cut Manning and not pay either sum, meaning he would earn $26.4 million in 2011.
Manning underwent single anterior fusion on his neck Thursday -- a procedure that was performed by father and son doctors Robert Watkins Sr. and Robert Watkins Jr. at Marina Del Rey Hospital in California -- his third neck operation in the past 19 months. He will miss the Colts' season-opener against the Houston Texans and possibly the rest of the season. The Colts gave no indication of a timetable for Manning's return, however, and indicated it wasn't their current intention to place the four-time MVP on the injured reserve list.
A statement from Manning's surgeons was released Friday.
"The surgery went very well, without complication,' the statement said. "His postoperative rehabilitation program will begin soon and the prognosis for recovery is good."
Dr. Wellington K. Hsu, an expert in operative treatment of cervical and lumbar degenerative disorders, told NFL.com Thursday that depending on the type of procedure Manning had, most surgeons would allow him to resume training in six to eight weeks and he could possibly be back on the field after about four more weeks of rehab.
Hsu also said Manning isn't the first professional athlete to have this kind of surgery, and he believes the only four-time MVP in league history has a "very, very good prognosis for coming back."
Losing Manning for any period of time is a huge blow for the Colts and turns the AFC South on its head.
Manning has not missed a game in 14 seasons -- a streak of 227 consecutive starts, including the playoffs. The Colts will now turn to veteran Kerry Collins on Sunday against a Texans squad that believes this is the year they'll finally make the playoffs.