Bill Polian believes the public back-and-forth between Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning about the quarterback's future with the franchise won't help the two parties find a resolution.
But the ex-Colts president and general manager thinks there is at least one positive that can be taken from Irsay's latest comments Tuesday to the Indianapolis Star. Irsay said the Colts would welcome Manning back next season, but only with a restructured contract that takes into account the "uncertainty" of his recovery from three neck surgeries in a 19-month span.
"In one sense, this is kind of a good thing," Polian said in a Tuesday night show I hosted with him on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "It frames the issue quite clearly in the public mind. Both parties have to sit down and determine what they want to do."
The Star reported that a face-to-face meeting between Irsay and Manning will occur next week. Manning is due a $28 million roster bonus on March 8, a lofty sum that Irsay has made clear he won't pay because of medical concerns.
Manning could agree to a new incentive-laden deal, push the roster bonus payoff date to later in the offseason or force his release by refusing to restructure. The Colts already have a replacement lined up in Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, whom the team plans to select with the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft.
Polian said he remains uncertain what will be the final resolution between the quarterback and Irsay.
"I believe very firmly that Peyton will play," said Polian, who personally saw Manning throw late in December during a workout. "I'd be very surprised if he does not and very saddened. The only reason that he won't play is if the arm doesn't come around. But anybody I've talked to that's close to him leads me to believe that's headed in the right direction. I think it's going to come around. That part of it, I'm not too worried about.
"The resolution of whatever his situation is with the Colts is just a stumble in that process. While it's news, I don't think it's going to affect either party terribly. If Peyton moves on, Andrew Luck steps in and plays just the way Peyton did as a rookie -- and by the way, he'll struggle, very probably. Peyton will go someplace else where he will continue to build his legacy and contribute mightily to whatever team and community he moves to. To be truthful, both parties, no matter how this turns out, will be OK."
Fired at the end of the 2011 campaign after 14 seasons with the Colts, Polian said watching the Irsay-Manning drama unfold from a distance has provided him with a different perspective.
"There's been a whole lot of sound and fury that has been far off base," he said. "There have been far too many people acting as experts who aren't. That said, that's the society we live in. That's been interesting to watch.
"But in the end, I've always believed the best communication is face-to-face communication. Without that, things can go wrong. I think it's good if they've agreed to a date that they're going to be sitting down and talking. The less this is done in public, the better off for everybody."