x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

A fit Peyton Manning will be going nowhere, says Indianapolis owner

Jim Irsay ends all speculation of the injured quarterback's NFL future.

Peyton Manning, who could be fit for next season, will not return to team practice just yet.
Peyton Manning, who could be fit for next season, will not return to team practice just yet.

INDIANAPOLIS // It looks like Peyton Manning will return to the Indianapolis Colts next season – unless he cannot play at all.

Jim Irsay, the Colts owner, said he could not foresee a scenario in which Manning would play anywhere but Indianapolis.

"I think the situation is if he's back and he's healthy, I see him coming back and playing here," Irsay said. "I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again."

Manning, one of NFL's best quarterbacks, has missed the entire season and has not participated in full team practices since a neck surgery on September 8.

There have been encouraging signs lately. On December 1, surgeon Dr Robert Watkins said the fusion between two vertebrae had healed firmly and that Manning could increase the intensity of his workouts. Last Wednesday, Manning put on pads and threw with teammates.

Coach Jim Caldwell, however, said Manning would continue to do individual work but would not participate in full team workouts for the rest of the season.

Manning, the only four-time MVP in league history, is due a US$28 million (Dh102m) bonus in March - a prospect that had some thinking Thursday night's game against the Houston Texans might have been the final time Manning would be on the Colts' sideline.

Irsay said that is not the case.

"I paid him $26 million this season and he didn't play, and I knew it was an iffy situation. If he's healthy and he can play, he'll be back here," the owner said.

Irsay also said the Colts would take a quarterback, Manning's successor, if the right one is available in April's draft.