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Colts will use tag 'as a matter of course' to keep Manning

The Indianapolis Colts are prepared to use the franchise tag on quarterback Peyton Manning, according to the * Indianapolis Star*.

The collective bargaining agreement expires March 3, and the Colts have until Feb. 22 under the current agreement to tag Manning. The "exclusive" franchise tag gives a team the eclusive right to a player for one year, but at a price. The Colts would need to pay Manning the average of the top five QB salaries, or 120 percent of his 2010 salary, whichever is greater. According to the Star, the one-year deal would pay Manning $23 million next season to stay in Indianapolis.

Manning is due to become a free agent and Colts owner Jim Irsay said more than a year ago that he wants to give Manning a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in the league and keep him in a Colts uniform for the rest of his career.

Colts president Bill Polian last talked with Manning's agent, Tom Condon, in January and didn't offer the newspaper a progress report.

"It'll get done when it gets done," he said Wednesday. "We're in a very, very unsettled situation as an industry, so I don't have any timetable specifically."

If a deal isn't reached, the team could tag him to buy time at the negotiating table, as they did back in 2004.

Polian told the paper he was willing to go that route again "as a matter of course, as we did (in '04)."

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