Irsay's promise makes life tough for Polian

February 4, 2010
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Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian may have his most difficult off-season ahead of him. It's always difficult to keep Super Bowl teams together.

Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s promise this week to make quarterback Peyton Manning the highest paid player in the NFL made Polian's off-season job all that much harder.

Irsay’s sentiment is understandable, but if Manning wants to win more Super Bowls, he may want to defer some of his break-the-bank salary to his supporting staff.

Without that gesture, it’s unlikely Polian, as smart as he is, will be able to keep the likes of Gary Bracket and Antoine Bethea among others who could declare free agency in the not-so-distant future.

Even if 2010 is a year without a salary cap, 2011 and beyond likely will not. If Manning is getting that much money, it won’t be financially possible to keep the rest of the key players in place long term. Maybe not even short term.

Fulfilling Irsay's promise also will hasten Polian's decision on Bob Sanders (who is chipping between $6 million and $8 million annually off the team's salary cap). Shelling out more cash for Manning simply means the Colts won't have much extra cash to gamble on a player, even as good as Sanders, who has an injury-riddled history.

Either way, making good on Irsay’s promise will cost the Colts dearly. In 2004, Manning signed a seven-year $98 million contract. Little brother Eli in August became the NFL’s highest paid player, when the N.Y. Giants agreed to pay him $106.9 million over the next seven years.
While Peyton’s current contract averages $14 million per year, Eli’s averages $15.3 million annually, the highest in the NFL.

League sources said Peyton Manning’s agent will expect the four-time NFL MVP to make $17 million per season. That’s a painful increase for a cost-conscious team with a $101.2 million player payroll this season.

The most immediate concerns will be the guys becoming free agents this off-season. Among those, Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Marlin Jackson and Charlie Johnson will be the most difficult to retain.

Guys like Bullitt, who is making $460,000 this year and Bethea, who is making $535,000, will likely be looking for a bigger pay day next year.

But Polian has made a career of prospecting the draft and replacing players who want more money with hungry youngsters willing to work for (relatively) cheap.

The extra $3 million or so annually going to Manning ought to make everyone on the roster just a little bit hungrier.

  • Community
    Too bad the Colts do not put more of that money back into the city to help Indianapolis out. Rather Irsay's bank account continues to get bigger and bigger and nothing in return to help the city of Indianapolis, while it battles its woes.
  • Worth It!
    Whatever Manning gets paid, it's worth it. He'll likely defer some of his salary to keep other key players, but Manning is the lynch-pin of the organization. He presence does more for the city that any amount of money Irsay could donate. I do wonder if it's entirely necessary to make Peyton the highest paid when he's already committed to retiring as a Colt.
  • Bob is wrong!
    What is Bob thinking? The City of Indianapolis is benefiting greatly by having a winning program here. And Manning is the key to that. We (the City) would not be getting all the publicity this week with the multitude of business opportunities that it brings, we would not be having a Super Bowl in 2 years with the $500 million or so economic impact without the Colts. Sounds like the typical bleeding heart liberal who doesn't have a job, who likes big government and dislikes entrepreneurs who risk every thing. We are lucky to have people like Irsey here in Indy. Without him or someone like him this place would not be where it is today and would not be a place that could draw others to it.
  • Bob,

    Where have you been? Have you read the news, gone to the stores and eaten at the bars lately? Have you seen the millions of dollars being spent on Superbowl merchandise, eating while watching the games etc? That is money being put in the City's and States's coffers through tax dollars. Did you see the $100 million Irsay paid towards the stadium? Will you see the millions of dollars in free advertising Indy has been getting this year and will get wit the Superbowl? Every time they mention Indy, show Indy or talk about Indy on national tv, that is a free advertisement for us. Irsay does more than his fair share of supporting Indy.
    • Bob, but...
      If you look at it, when the colts are on a winning streak (like this year), our local economy is stimulated. Irsay may not be giving back to the economy up front, but by keeping the colts here and ensuring his investment provides a return, he is ensuring that hundreds are employed directly (at the stadium - even if he isn't paying them, the colts bring in the fans to ensure these people have paychecks) or employ indirectly at various vendors and other places that sell Colts Jerseys, TShirts and other colts related clothing lines.

      This is a true trickle down affect. I don't like to say the word (because I feel that the idea is typically flawed - i am not liberal or conservative, so please bite your tongue and don't mention it), but when the rich performs well (ie Colts and Irsay), people want to get behind a winning team as such and purchase products showing their support. I am not going to go to the other end and say without him, things would be worse off, but he (and the team) has given us something to look forward to every week (despite the rough economy).

      In general, I believe that sports players are overpaid and educators are underpaid, but since we are not talking about that, lets look at what we are talking about. Manning is paid his worth (in comparison to the team at whole) and I feel that the better one performs and the more they bring to the table (clientell -ie fans- and tallent), the better they shall be paid, as well as if they don't perform, they shall not be paid as much (or at all in the season). For those who will argue me on this, tell me this, would you pay someone if they are out sick or on disability (not producing any worth or value to your business? I feel that the same goes for any sports player (if they are given a shot on the field).
    • The point is
      I must admit, I too think Jim Irsay should donate a bit to the city in terms of helping CIB/ICVA with its challenges promoting this city. That helps all businesses here, including the Colts. If the economy is stronger here, they sell more merchandise, etc. Plus, it's always good to build some goodwill during times like these. If another local organization can pony up $5.4 million to ICVA to help market the city, couldn't Irsay do a little something ... other than fly his entire staff to Miami for a week-long party. But, I digress. The point of the post is that paying Manning so much will significantly weaken the supporting (on-field) cast. And I agree, that could be a real problem for Polian this off-season. If all else fails, cut these players loose and bring them back in a few years as honorary captains ... that should make everyone feel groovy.
    • Indyman - $100 million
      Indyman said, "Did you see the $100 million Irsay paid towards the stadium?"
      Indyman must''ve missed the part where the NFL re-imbursed that money to Mr. Irsay.
    • Polin-Manning
      Don't tell me Polian is going to suggest another STUPID move. Giving the game to the jets was the height of stupidity. Giving away Manning is stupidity plus ignorance plus no caring for the people of Indiana!
    • Money put into the stadium
      It would have been, and will continue to be, one of the things working against future SuperBowls: seating. Before the blueprints for Indy were completed, stadiums were under construction which would dwarf it, particularly in seating capacity. What got the SuperBowl here? "Please! Please! We've never had it. Can we just have it here *once*?" Sort of like begging for a mercy date. There are, however, two issues: Dallas has their "do-over" scoreboard but considerably more seating. Imagine an Indy stadium which has roughly the same number of seats, but can't generate enough viewers to avoid a lot of empty space. Build small, but try to have a SuperBowl with a smaller venue.

      What I'd like to see is to have the lid peeled back during inclement weather, even if it's just rain. During the Winter? That would be a lot of fun. Anyone who hasn't frozen their posterior at Green Bay or Chicago haven't had a full measure of the game. Leave the top open for a couple of days with a winter storm [1] and have a cold/snow game? That would be fun.


      [1] Unlike the "winter storm" headed our way right now. Once they made the initial statement, all subsequent stories have used the word, "lighter". That's a sure sign we're getting ripped off. If it's going to be cold, let's get some snow. Otherwise, it's a waste of cold air.
    • DL,

      Could you provide a link to that? I have never heard of it. First if true, why does the City care about where the money comes from, it would be a $100 million investment from the NFL/Colts in the stadium. Do you care if your employer hands you a $200 bonus or the company that owns your company hands it to you? Either way it is $200 in your pocket.
    • Here's the deal on Colts payment
      Here's the deal: The Colts agreed to pay $100 million toward construction of Lucas Oil Stadium. The city of Indianapolis paid the Colts $48 million to break the RCA Dome lease with the team. The NFL granted the Colts a $34 million (forgiveable) loan to put toward its contribution. The NFL has a pool of money set aside for such purposes. Therefore, the Colts pulled out $18 million out of its pocket for the LOS construction.

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    1. Apologies for the wall of text. I promise I had this nicely formatted in paragraphs in Notepad before pasting here.

    2. I believe that is incorrect Sir, the people's tax-dollars are NOT paying for the companies investment. Without the tax-break the company would be paying an ADDITIONAL $11.1 million in taxes ON TOP of their $22.5 Million investment (Building + IT), for a total of $33.6M or a 50% tax rate. Also, the article does not specify what the total taxes were BEFORE the break. Usually such a corporate tax-break is a 'discount' not a 100% wavier of tax obligations. For sake of example lets say the original taxes added up to $30M over 10 years. $12.5M, New Building $10.0M, IT infrastructure $30.0M, Total Taxes (Example Number) == $52.5M ININ's Cost - $1.8M /10 years, Tax Break (Building) - $0.75M /10 years, Tax Break (IT Infrastructure) - $8.6M /2 years, Tax Breaks (against Hiring Commitment: 430 new jobs /2 years) == 11.5M Possible tax breaks. ININ TOTAL COST: $41M Even if you assume a 100% break, change the '30.0M' to '11.5M' and you can see the Company will be paying a minimum of $22.5, out-of-pocket for their capital-investment - NOT the tax-payers. Also note, much of this money is being spent locally in Indiana and it is creating 430 jobs in your city. I admit I'm a little unclear which tax-breaks are allocated to exactly which expenses. Clearly this is all oversimplified but I think we have both made our points! :) Sorry for the long post.

    3. Clearly, there is a lack of a basic understanding of economics. It is not up to the company to decide what to pay its workers. If companies were able to decide how much to pay their workers then why wouldn't they pay everyone minimum wage? Why choose to pay $10 or $14 when they could pay $7? The answer is that companies DO NOT decide how much to pay workers. It is the market that dictates what a worker is worth and how much they should get paid. If Lowe's chooses to pay a call center worker $7 an hour it will not be able to hire anyone for the job, because all those people will work for someone else paying the market rate of $10-$14 an hour. This forces Lowes to pay its workers that much. Not because it wants to pay them that much out of the goodness of their heart, but because it has to pay them that much in order to stay competitive and attract good workers.

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    5. It is sad to see these races not have a full attendance. The Indy Car races are so much more exciting than Nascar. It seems to me the commenters here are still a little upset with Tony George from a move he made 20 years ago. It was his decision to make, not yours. He lost his position over it. But I believe the problem in all pro sports is the escalating price of admission. In todays economy, people have to pay much more for food and gas. The average fan cannot attend many events anymore. It's gotten priced out of most peoples budgets.