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Will Peyton Manning Ever Wear a Colts Uniform Again?

If you had told me 12 months ago that Peyton Manning might be done as an Indianapolis Colt by the end of the season, I wouldn’t have believed it. He never missed games, and seemed destined to walk away on his own terms at age 38 or 39 like Marino or Elway.

We still don’t know what will happen, but Manning’s comments Thursday at least suggest that he considers it a possibility. Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star says he is “officially leaning beyond 50-50 on [Manning] ever playing in Indy again, if anywhere.”

Manning emphasized that he was part of the negotiation on the structuring of the deal, which gives the Colts an out to walk away from the what he called a one year deal with a 4-year extension this offseason.

It was my recommendation, that I wasn’t healthy when I signed the contract and if I’m not healthy in February, I think it’s fair for the Colts to be able to make their decision there.

The fact that he is mentioning this now suggests Manning is at least coming to grips with the possibility that he and Colts may part ways. He doesn’t know how his neck or how the nerves will respond over the next month. We don’t know what the Colts will need to see from Manning to make that determination. Twenty-eight million is a lot of money.

If it comes to a point where the Colts opt to go elsewhere at quarterback, he won’t be an attractive trade option, at least at the salary amount of the current contract. No team will give up early picks while also taking on the risk of prohibitive contract if the player can’t go. They would at best get conditional picks, or alternatively let him go and start over without risk or compensation.

Something that was unfathomable a year ago seems possible today. Peyton Manning may be done, or at least done in Indianapolis. A lot of other factors, including the draft position and the Andrew Luck factor, may come in. But the Colts may have to make that decision regardless of how those other things fall, if Manning’s neck does not improve in time to make a decision on his next bonus.

[photo via Getty]

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