The Colts cannot trade Peyton Manning

Using the numbers from Brett Mock, Joe Baker, and reader “Sarcasm”, Greg Cowan shows us why it’s impossible for the Colts to trade Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning’s name has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors lately. If you believe the rumors, it may seem as if just about every team in the NFL will be making a trade offer for him this off-season. Most media outlets seem happy to report on these rumors as if they were realistic: they get the reactions of players on the rumored destination, they get their experts to talk about how Manning would improve each team, and they talk about how that team would invariably become an immediate contender.

What they fail to mention, however, is that it will be all but impossible for the Colts to trade Peyton Manning and still field a legal team.

Using numbers from Joe Baker’s article on Manning’s contract (with an assist from reader/commenter named “Sarcasm”) and from Brett Mock’s article regarding veteran contracts, we can do some basic math and look at the reality of the situation.

The NFL’s Salary Cap in 2011 was approximately $120MM. There is not expected to be much, if any, increase in the 2012 cap. For argument’s sake (and to further make our point) let’s work off of a 2012 Salary Cap of $125,000,000.00.

Based on multiple reports from experts such as John Clayton and even Colts owner Jim Irsay’s own words, the Colts are already at or over the 2011 salary cap.

Using the most Colts-friendly numbers from Baker’s article, the team would incur a $38,400,000 hit for trading Manning after paying him the March 8th bonus. Assuming they were already at $120,000,000.00, this would now put them at $158,400,000 for our hypothetical $125,000,000.00 cap.

In order to get under the cap, the Colts would obviously have to shed salary. Now we’ll turn our attention to Mock’s article. Using his numbers, we see that the Colts could save $13,600,000 on the cap by cutting the following veterans after June 1st, 2012: Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Melvin Bulitt, Adam Vinatieri, Jerry Hughes, Donald Brown, Antonio Johnson, Zac Diles, Fili Moala and Justin Snow.

If we remove the $13,600,000 from our $158,400,000 cap, we find ourselves sitting at $144,800,000, almost $20 million over our hypothetical Salary Cap. And if the Colts were to pull the last rabbit out of their hat and cut Dwight Freeney and Antoine Bethea? The Colts would save an additional $17,235,000 against the 2012 cap.

At this point, the Colts would still find themselves around $3,000,000 over the cap. They will have cut almost every productive and useful veteran from their roster. Most importantly, from a cap standpoint, they will still have to replace the cut players. Even if they replace them with minimum-salary scrubs, the Colts will still find themselves close to $10,000,000 over the 2012 salary cap.

So while it is nice to dream up potential trade scenarios for Peyton Manning, the fact is, they would be better off paying Manning his option bonus to sit on the couch watching “Hannah Montana” than they would be trading him.