Report: Manning could be highest paid

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- It appears the Indianapolis Colts are prepared to make star quarterback Peyton Manning the NFL's richest player.

"I'm willing to make him the highest paid player in the league, but it has to be within reason because we have to be able to field an entire team," team owner Jim Irsay told the Indianapolis Star.


The paper said the Colts could make Manning their "exclusive franchise" player, delaying for a year an opportunity for him to become an unrestricted free agent. The Star report said the tag would translate into a one-year, $18.4 million contract, which is a 19.5 percent increase over his 2003 cap number of $15.36 million.

Manning, who shared MVP honors with Steve McNair of Tennessee, completed 67 percent of his passes this season for 4,267 yards with 29 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He was picked off four times in the Colts' AFC title game loss at New England last Sunday.

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