Are Manning and Brady Playing Cat and Mouse?
The CBA is getting blamed for an awful lot these days in fact, just yesterday I think it got blamed for both the Gulf oil spill & the lack of a human landing on Mars. The latest “victim” of the CBA is Tom Brady, and his lack of an extension with the Patriots.
Now depending on who you listen to Brady is either just within reach, or alternatively, a million miles away from a new deal with the Pats. There are some who will tell you that Brady reported to camp for show only and will simply go through the motions until he gets a new deal at Foxboro. Then there are some that will tell you he is committed to the team and his contract dispute is of no consequence to the way that he approaches camp.
Manning is being much quieter about his contract situation. Bill Polian has come out and said that he thinks a deal will be done with Peyton before his contract expires at the end of the 2010 season. The groundwork is being laid behind closed doors and a deal will eventually be made so that Manning gets to end his career as a Colt. The main question with Manning is that if the contract is not set before the season begins, will it act as a distraction during the year?
So we have the leagues two preeminant quarterbacks both in a contract year and both angling for new deals. Where this gets interesting is that with the CBA issue, and the possibility of an uncapped year in 2011, (and maybe even a strike if everything does horribly wrong) how do the powers that be go about structuring a reasonable contract?
I don’t want to totally downplay the CBA in all this because I think it is playing a role. The main issue here though is one of pride. Both Manning and Brady are clearly ultra competitive guys, after all you don’t get to the level they are playing at without having that streak in you. Each wants to be seen as the alpha male of the league and in the NFL one way of claiming that status is the size of your contract.
In simple terms, whichever of the two QBs pulls the trigger on a contract first will be the highest payed guy for as long as it takes the other of the duo to pick up a pen. Both Manning and Brady know that this might be their last big contract in the NFL, and both want to one up the other in terms of guaranteed money for the remainder of their career. Is it the best way to judge a player? No, but with the way the NFL works it is a bottom line figure that fans and analysts can quote when comparing the players relative worth.
The only item that is for sure in this salary race is that both will get paid. Manning and Brady are of course indispensable to their teams and seeing them in different jerseys would be the equivalent of seeing Brett Favre as a Jet. Odds are Brady will jump first, and that Manning will end up as the higher paid guy. How long it will be before that happens though is really anyone’s guess.