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Colts: Manning Contract Discussions Delayed by  Bradford?

Throughout the summer, the biggest contract story has been Peyton Manning’s new deal.  It has been argued that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are waiting on Manning’s deal before reaching an agreement of their own.  It has also been argued that the Manning contract will set the tone for many of the contract issues that are occurring while the future of the NFL collective bargaining agreement is uncertain.

Colts fans have been waiting to hear news about Manning’s deal and have been disappointed that there seems to be more news about the obstacles to reaching an agreement, than there is about making progress.  Albert Breer, a writer for “Extra Points” at Boston.com, has an important insight that could go a long way to paint the Manning contract situation — and those associated with his deal — more accurately.

The key to Manning’s contract could be this guy:

[media-credit name=”G. Newman Lowrance | Getty Images” align=”aligncenter” width=”610″][/media-credit]
EARTH CITY, MO - JUNE 11: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams throws a pass during a mini camp at the Russell Training Center on June 11, 2010 in Earth City, Missouri.

Greer quotes a twitter post from Adam Schefter saying that Bradford is likely to get $45-50 million guaranteed in his contract.  The guaranteed money he receives may be of particular interest to Manning and Brady.

What makes it even more likely that Manning’s contract discussions are affected by Bradford’s deal?

Sam Bradford is represented by Tom Condon.  The same Tom Condon who represents Manning and who will actively represent Manning’s interests in discussions with Jim Irsay and Bill Polian at some point before his contract expires at the end of the year.

This information could explain a lot about why Manning’s contract development is slow, why more is being discussed by both parties that indicates more complications than solutions, and why so many other potential NFL contract discussions are slow to move forward.

The good news is that Bradford’s deal will need to be finalized by July 28th for him to open camp with the Rams — both parties have expressed great interest in that taking place.  That could mean real progress on Manning’s contract will start at or around the same time.

Keep in mind the importance of Bradford’s deal on a broader scale.  With the collective bargaining agreement in a state of flux at this point, the future for rookie contracts could be fundamentally altered.  This means that if Manning or other veterans do not use Bradford’s deal to fuel their own contract discussions, they may not have another opportunity in the future.

We should know by July 28th just what we might expect Manning’s contract terms to look like.  If Schefter is right — he often is — Manning and other stars may use the $45-50 million in guaranteed money to guide the undecided portions of their contract demands.

Keep your eye on Bradford.  He may be the key to it all.