QB's input helps keep Saturday

February 27, 2009
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saturdayIndianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is nothing if not professional. So it’s no wonder Manning slipped below the public eye when he lobbied Colts management to keep center Jeff Saturday. Manning has made no secret just how important Saturday is to the team. At this point in Manning’s career, his center is just as important to his own performance as he is to the team’s.

The center’s role in the NFL is largely unsung. He does more than get the ball cleanly to the quarterback—which is pretty important in its own right. A top center helps read defenses, orchestrate the O-line and coordinate schemes.

Manning, who is 25 days short of his 33rd birthday, knows there’s more days behind his cart than there are in front of this horse. He also knows he can’t spend a season—or even a part of a season—becoming acquainted with a new center. It’s not even evident who on the Colts roster would replace Saturday. Steve Justice, a 2008 sixth round draft pick out of Wake Forest, is the only other true center on the roster. Depending on such inexperience at this point in his career doesn’t sit well with Manning.

Manning didn’t sit down with Colts owner Jim Irsay and/or president Bill Polian and demand that Saturday stay. That’s not his style. But gently, through seemingly casual conversation with coaches and team brass, and through the work of intermediaries, Manning let his feelings be known; to remain a winner, a serious Super Bowl contender, Saturday must stay.

Sure, the extra $4 million bump in salary cap space—to $127 million—was helpful. But Saturday’s return was imminent anyway, largely because Irsay wants to win as bad as Manning. And Polian can see that the relatively small change spent on Saturday is money well spent if it keeps his hall-of-fame quarterback happy—and more importantly, productive.

Saturday was paid $3.5 million last year. Even if his salary is doubled, that would barely put him in the top five salaries on the team. And Colts brass can save money by having a single retirement party when the duo rides off into the sunset together.

By the way, Saturday’s contract was for three years. The clock is ticking.
  • Saturday was paid $3.5 million last year ... yea ... this is what we all want to hear right now :(
  • You trying to give everyone a heart attack saying Peyton is gone in 3 years. I'm hoping for at least 5 more.


    yes I was yelling !

    P.S. It's great Saturday will be there on Sunday.
  • Who knows, maybe Saturday will re-up for a two-year extension. Either way, the sands in the hour glass are running thin. It's time to get it done.
  • Saturday actually talks to people, ie: fans. And is a pretty likable guy. So it was probably a pretty good PR move too to keep him.
  • Saturday and Manning are career Colts, period. I don't think anybody is implying that they are a package deal.

    The clock is ticking on what exactly?

    Manning being a classic style QB depends on pocket protection and not getting blindside or low hits. Manning could feasibly play into his late, late 30s and towards 40 if he wanted given his very healthy career so far (yes, including his recent knee infection, that was not structural). In order for Peyton to succeed, his O-Line must be solid. The Colts use a unique system oriented line that relies heavily on the Center or Line-Captain calling out various blocking schemes. A rookie or young C cannot jump in and do that at the level the Colts need. Saturday and Howard Mudd will craft and teach the young potential centers (Richard, Pollak, Justice) to eventually take over. Saturday has a few more years and Peyton has 6+ and BOTH WILL RETIRE COLTS, period.

    A wise move by the Colts. Keeping the anchor to your annually solid O-Line is the right choice. While we all love us some Marvin, his salary and reduced production were not possible this offseason.

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