For Cardinals fans, if Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts part ways, it could be as early as March 17 when they know how serious the team is willing to go after Manning.
That is the deadline for the Cardinals to decide if they want to give Kevin Kolb the $7 million option that is in his contract.
If that’s picked up, the chances of Manning dressing in red are very slim.
On March 8, Manning is due for a $28 million option bonus with the Indianapolis Colts that will finish off the final four years of a five-year, $90 million contract. That will decide his future with the organization.
Other teams interested have the luxury of waiting to see how well he recovers and the time to be able to work out possible contract offers.
The gamble with signing Manning that early is that he will not have made a full recovery by then, and it will be unclear if he can play like he did just two years ago.
“We’re not going to know how healthy Peyton Manning is by that time,” ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo. “He’s cleared. The fusion on his neck is healed. That part of it, he’s fine. It’s the nerve damage no one knows about.
“He’s throwing the football now; he throws every day. However, no one’s seen him throw. It’s going to be a risk if it’s Arizona, if it’s Miami, if it’s Washington, if it’s the Jets. One of those teams, there is going to be some risk involved, not only with the money, but the unknown of how he is to play football.”
Manning was cleared to play recently by two doctors after coming off a neck injury that sat him out the entire 2011 season. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay tweeted early Friday that even though he was cleared, he has yet to pass the Colts’ physical and has yet to be cleared to play for them.
Even though he has things to clear up with the Colts, more and more analysts, including Jaworski, are saying that his career with the team is done.
“It’s over for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis,” Jaworski said. “He’s moving on, they’re moving on. It would absolutely be the biggest upset in NFL history if Peyton Manning stays with the Colts.”