Concerns over Manning's health

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning looks on in a game against the Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Dec....

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning looks on in a game against the Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Dec. 26, 2010. (JED JACOBSOHN/Getty Images/AFP)

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, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he's prepared to make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in the NFL, but there's a concern if the four-time league MVP will be ready for the 2011 season opener.

Manning, who has been recovering from neck surgery performed in May, hasn't been able to work out with the Colts due to the lockout, which concluded Monday. Now, the former Super Bowl MVP is preparing for the regular season, which starts September 11 at Houston.

"I think that he's progressing," Irsay said in a conference call Monday. "These things vary on how quickly they progress. Our hope is that he'll be ready for Houston. Our hope is that he'll keep trending in that direction, have a great season and open against Houston to keep his consecutive streak going. It's going to go day-to-day and week-to-week, but there hasn't been any sort of setback."

Manning underwent a procedure for a disk-related issue in his neck on May 23, and it was initially reported that recovery time would be about 6-to-8 weeks. The superstar quarterback also had surgery in March 2010 to relieve pain in his neck caused by a pinched nerve and did not miss camp.

The Colts had been trying to work toward a new long-term deal with Manning, who has never missed a game in 13 seasons with the club.

In February, the Colts placed their franchise tag on Manning, locking him up for the upcoming season. Ultimately, though, Irsay wants Manning in Indy for the long term.

Manning finished the final season of the seven-year deal he signed in 2004, which paid him close to $100 million. Under the franchise tag, he will earn the average salary of the top five-paid quarterbacks next season, or 120 percent of his previous salary if it is greater. That equates to about $23 million.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the highest paid player in the league with an average annual salary of $18 million. Irsay is prepared to top that.

"To me, I hope we get something done in the next couple of days. We've been ready and I've been ready," Irsay said. "It's really important that we get the deal done so we plan going forward, not only cap-wise, but competitive-wise. It's something I hope gets done quickly and quite frankly, it is should get done quickly. He is going to be the highest paid player and he is going to make more than Brady."


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