Colts Owner Jim Irsay Says Team Can’t Afford to Pay Manning $25 Million

Colts owner Jim Irsay has every intention of making 35-year-old Peyton Manning the highest-paid player in National Football League history, but recognizes that money will be needed to build the rest of the roster.

“I’ve offered to make him the highest-paid player,” Irsay said on Monday night. “(But) we need people to surround him to have a chance to win a Super Bowl.

“Under the (new) system, you cannot pay a player $25 million (per year). It’s just not going to work. You’re not going to be able to compete.”

The Colts used the exclusive franchise tag on the future Hall of Famer, which guarantees a $23.12 million base salary for 2011. Manning’s rookie contract was worth a maximum of $48 million, while his 2004 extension (which came about after being franchised) was worth $98 million over seven seasons.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the NFL’s highest-paid player, signing a four-year $72 million extension last September. Brady’s maximum cap hit is $18.2 million (around 15% of cap) and $26 million of the deal is deferred to following seasons, freeing up cash for the Patriots to surround Brady with the help he needs.

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