It has been reported that Denver quarterback and future first ballot hale of famer Peyton Manning will take a paltry $15 million next season, down from the $19 million specified in his contract. In case you've forgotten, Manning's playoff performance against the Colts was awful, particularly by his lofty standards. It was later released that he was suffering from a leg injury, which clearly would explain, at least partially, his subpar performance. But the former Super Bowl winner while with the Colts will turn 39 later this month, which might as well be 68 in any other profession. I have been a huge fan of Manning since his days at Tennessee, an advocate that his failure to be voted as Heisman Trophy winner is one of the most blatant injustices in sports history. But Father Time catches up to all of us, the silver strands of hair on my head testimony to that inevitability. Can it be argued that Peyton Manning has deserved to go out on his terms, at whatever salary he negotiated when Denver offered the contract? Sure. But there's a business aspect to the NFL that is even more important since the advent of free agency. So if the Broncos can use that $4 million to attract a better player to put around Manning, then it's in his best interest, at least from a team perspective, to take the cut. After taxes, he'll only feel a mere $2.4 million dollar decrease.
On another note, the New England Patriots did not pick up the option on Vince Wilfork, an eleven year veteran and a longtime stalwart in Bill Belichick's defense. But no team has done a better job of balancing on the field performance with managing the salary cap than the Patriots. Wilfork is just another example of how, from a business perspective, the NFL can be brutal. Did Joe Montana and Jerry Rice get to retire as San Francisco 49ers? No. Do you want to go back even farther, just in case you think this is a recent phenomenon? How about John Unitas? He ended his career as a San Diego Charger. Really? It's about business and making sure the best team possible based on the current roster and contract situations finds its way to the field. There was a huge outcry, many of it by Eagles fans, when Chip Kelly traded away running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. But Kelly has to manage a lot more than the running back position and freeing up salary cap space while getting a talented, and let's face it,cheap player in exchange for an expensive and aging running back makes a lot of sense. For these NFL General Managers, it's like a giant jigsaw puzzle with 53 pieces. The complicating factor is that the pieces all have a different value, so it's possible to put the puzzle together, only to find that the whole thing is too expensive. I've long maintained that for all of his positive attributes as a person and a businessman, Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones hasn't really figured out how to complete the puzzle. He needs to hire an experienced NFL puzzle master to put the right pieces together, just as Robert Kraft has done in New England.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK
Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel",
available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.