As everyone reading this probably is well aware, both quarterbacks — the finest of their generation — are just three months off from playing in a contract season. And as all of you should also know, the collective bargaining agreement is less than a year from expiring, and the two sides in that battle haven’t exactly been playing nice of late. As Liz Mullen reported this morning, they’re set for another negotiating session in the morning.
So how do Brady and Manning get inserted in all this? Cole explains it thoroughly, but perhaps the most plain way of putting it came through this quote from an agent in the story: “If Manning doesn’t get the kind of contract we all expect or, worse, doesn’t get a deal done at all, that really means it’s going to be war. There has never been a player with more leverage than him. No one. If he can’t get a deal done at his price, we’re all in trouble.”
Cole also brings up a subtle difference between Brady and Manning that we’ve talked about before — playing style. The way Brady plays, he takes a beating, which is a tribute to his toughness but could be a detriment to his longevity. Manning, on the other hand, usually barely gets breathed on. Similar as those guys might be, they play the game a little differently; A Manning strength is how quick he gets rid of the ball, and one for Brady (who happens to be a league rep now) is how patient he is, and how he lets plays develop.
Of course, that’s splitting hairs, and simply explaining the “leverage” part of that agent’s argument. If all is right in the NFL, then those two guys will soon be the highest-paid players, in one order or another, in league history, and each team will have the game’s most important position taken care of for the next half-decade.
And if it doesn’t work that way? Well, then, as Cole wrote, all this might be more than just a Colts or Patriots problem.