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Colts owner Jim Irsay held court on the sideline as the first practice of camp wrapped up Monday morning. The hot topic, of course, was the contract of Peyton Manning — Manning's deal expires following the 2010 season.
Irsay said during the week leading up to the Super Bowl that Manning would be the highest-paid player in the league and that a deal would get done before the start of the season. Although he did not back off his claim that Manning will be the highest-paid player on Monday, he said that the uncertainty surrounding having a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place before March makes it impossible to predict when a new deal for Manning will be reached.
"To me, the bottom line is we'll get something done. When, it just depends," he said. "But it's not easy because you can't anticipate what the rules are going to be. … It's kind of like being in the stock market and buying and selling stock and you don't even know what the taxation is going to be."
Irsay reiterated on several occasions throughout the conversation that the money would be paid out and Manning would be the highest-paid player in the league. He did, however, mention the possibility of using the franchise tag on his quarterback.
"The way things stand, I said he was going to he the highest-paid player and he may already be with the tag, if we technically go that route," Irsay said. "It will get done. It's special having a player like that. I'd love to see him be here and break all the records and keep this thing going."
It should come as no surprise, however, if the situation drags on for some time.
"It's impossible for me to have any sort of wisdom or direction until we get our marching orders together and see what (CBA) system we're going to be in. … I don't think you can put a timetable on it."
Irsay also stressed the importance of keeping the other key parts around Manning, referencing the 2001 season, which was the last losing season of the Manning era.
He said he had not been concerned about WR Reggie Wayne and DE Robert Mathis reporting to camp — both veterans indicated during the offseason that they wanted new contracts despite having two years remaining on their deals.
"I think when we sign these big veteran contracts, you have to anticipate to play them out."
When asked if Irsay still thinks Super Bowl XLVI will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012, Irsay responded, "I do, I really do." He also revealed that there is a contingency plan in place if a work stoppage of any duration should affect the timing of the game taking place.
"I think that it's something where everyone's worst fears can come up and it can be good for stories and to be kicked around, but I really feel that we will have a Super Bowl, hopefully on the date that it is planned. If it's not on that date, we've made some arrangements where we have some flexibility to alter the date if we have to work the schedule differently. My anticipation is that we will certainly play it here."
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