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Report: Colts make first contract offer to Manning's agent

The Colts presented quarterback Peyton Manning's agent, Tom Condon, with their initial contract proposal during a face-to-face meeting, ESPN reported Sunday, citing team and league sources.

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The offer, made Thursday in Indianapolis, is more lucrative than Tom Brady's four-year, $72 million contract ($48.5 million guaranteed), which the New England Patriots' star quarterback signed in September.

Condon confirmed the meeting to *The Indianapolis Star*, but he would only say "it was pretty uneventful."

Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday that he still intends to make Manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history, the NFL's highest-paid player. And Irsay generally has cited Brady's deal as the standard while making it clear he wants Manning to stay in Indianapolis for the rest of his career.

Irsay wanted to reach a new deal last summer, but when that didn't happen, the Colts tried to make Manning a formal offer during their bye week. Condon then told the Colts that Manning wanted to focus on football, not contracts, until after the season.

Sources told ESPN that while the Colts are willing to make Manning, 35, the league's highest-paid player, team president Bill Polian also addressed the need to show "reasonable financial constraints" on a five-year deal. The Colts want more cash flow to build a team around Manning -- and to be more aggressive in free agency. Just four free agents have signed in Indianapolis since Manning received a $98 million contract in 2004.

The Colts also need to take care of their potential free agents, which include running back Joseph Addai, safety Melvin Bullitt, left tackle Charlie Johnson, defensive tackle Dan Muir, linebacker Clint Session and kicker Adam Vinatieri. None of those players can sign with another team until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.

The sides hadn't discussed Manning's contract until Thursday's meeting, and they're trying to come to an agreement before the league year ends March 3, at which point no player can sign a contract until there is a new CBA. If there is no agreement by then, ESPN reported that the Colts are prepared to use their franchise tag on Manning, even if they don't know if it will hold up without a labor deal. The Colts used their tag on Manning in 2004 before finalizing his seven-year contract.

Manning's franchise tag, at 110 percent of last year's salary, is projected to be slightly more than $23 million, according to ESPN.

Condon also represents New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who's entering the final year of a six-year deal he signed in 2006. Brees told the *Times-Picayune* earlier this month that he would like a long-term contract extension this offseason.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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