Tough Decisions Ahead for Front Office

This might prove to be a big year for the Indianapolis Colts. It's because of what could happen off the field, though, rather than what occurs during the upcoming season that will be important. As many as twenty players, including four-time league Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, have contracts that are due to expire at the end of the 2010 season.

In addition to Manning, the list includes running back Joseph Addai, kicker Adam Vinatieri, safeties Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva, linebacker Clint Session, offensive tackles Charlie Johnson, Tony Ugoh and Adam Terry, defensive tackles Dan Muir, Antonio Johnson and Eric Foster, defensive ends Keyunta Dawson and Ervin Baldwin, tight end Gijon Robinson, guards Andy Alleman and Kyle DeVan, and wide receiver Sam Giguere.

If a new collective bargaining agreement is reached and players once again are unrestricted after four years in the league -- it took six years this offseason because of 2010 being a year without a salary cap — 13 of the players, many of them front-line players, would be unrestricted.

Some tough decisions loom ahead for the Colts' front office.

"In this game, you never know. Sometimes things come full circle and guys are able to come back. A part of the game is that our team we had last year will never be the same team," linebacker Gary Brackett said recently.

"Guys are going to move on, guys are going to go different places, guys are not going to make the roster next season."

Team owner Jim Irsay knows that re-doing the contract of Manning is a given. What happens after that remains to be seen.

"We have to be wise in that we don't corner ourselves and make sure we have room to keep some of the key guys," Irsay said. "It's a myth to say you can just have Peyton and you're automatically 12-4.

"Peyton gives you such an edge. But we need the supporting cast if we want to do what we really want to do, and that's win another world championship."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You have to be careful with all of your signings to make sure you have enough money to spread around to all of the players. You look at guys like (receivers) Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. These are guys you're going to want to keep down the road. You've got to make sure you're able to do that." — Colts owner Jim Irsay pointing out that he is always mindful of the importance of having enough money left over for the rest of the roster while negotiating a new contract for reigning NFL MVP Peyton Manning.

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