It is becoming apparent that signing Manning is going to be costly. REALLY costly. The Cardinals, Broncos and Titans have all indicated that they will do "whatever it takes" to sign Manning. The Chiefs, Dolphins ans other mystery teams will all be making offers. Before and during the strike, Manning repeatedly stated his position that a team should not to be able to franchise a player, and that a vested veteran like him should be free to market his services to the highest bidder. He is a shrewd businessman, and money will play a significant role in which team he chooses. How much should the Broncos spend for Payton?
Poll after the jumpBefore last season, Manning signed a contract extension paying him $90 million over 5 years, The Colts exercised an "opt out" clause, deciding not to pay a $28 million payment due this month. Tom Brady signed a contract extension in 2010 for $18 million per season. Those contracts were signed with a "home team" discount, limited by the simple fact that the "monopoly" limited their services to one bidder.
Even though he was injured last year, with the number of teams willing to do "whatever it takes", putting their reputations and careers on the line (Elway to an extent) the number will be huge. Most troubling is the irascible, elderly Titan's owner demanding that he gets what he wants ("Mr. Manning") for an immediate Superbowl run, and seemingly unconcerned what it will do to the long-term interests of his team.
Fortunately, the salary cap will limit the amount that teams will be able to offer. The Broncos have $40 million in cap room. Tennessee has $28 million. While Arizona has little cap room. dumping players, restructuring contracts. using cap exemptions - virtually any team can compete if they want him badly enough, and are willing to sacrifice spending on other free agents.
My gut says 5 years $125 million($25 mil per year), $50 million guaranteed as signing bonus plus incentives.