INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning likely will have a long-term contract extension by next season.
Exactly when that will happen is a bigger question.
Manning, the Colts' 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback, was in the final year of his contract this past season, but Colts owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay and Manning's agent, Tom Condon, spoke optimistically of a deal getting done when contacted by the AP this week.
"Yeah, I think something will get done, but it's hard to predict when," Condon told AP on Tuesday.
Manning, a four-time AP NFL Most Valuable Player, signed a $98 million deal in 2004 that made him the NFL's highest-paid player.
Irsay reiterated Tuesday what he has said several times in the last year – that he still intends to again make Manning the league's highest-paid player.
"I'm not going to get into any specifics in terms of the negotiations, but I've said before this is an unusual situation," Irsay told the AP. “It's not a normal negotiation, his legacy and our relationship, it's very unusual. You hope it happens a lot, but it doesn't.”
Irsay wanted to reach a deal with Manning last off-season, and the team tried to make Manning a formal offer during this past season's bye week. Condon at the time told the Colts Manning wanted to focus on football during the season.
And although the the lack of a collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association is expected to slow the free agency period, Irsay said the Colts and Manning are “going to have to try to move forward with some things before early March, knowing or not."
“I think the market's out there and you know it's something we'll work on," Irsay said. "The offer will reflect him being right there with (New England Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady and being at the top. We look forward to getting something done.”