Andrew’s answers: Tuesday’s mailbag

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Are you surprised that Peyton Manning will not be signing an extension this season?

A bit. Colts owner Jim Irsay was on record as far back as December in proclaiming that Manning would be the highest paid player in football in what appeared to short order. Obviously, it didn’t happen then nor during the long offseason nor after the expected trigger point of Tom Brady's extension with the Patriots.

Why no deal? Although the Patriots and Brady were able to find a way, Colts president Bill Polian has long found shelter in the labor uncertainty for the future and the lack of a CBA by which to structure a deal. Although Polian has completed multi-million dollar extensions with Gary Brackett and Antoine Bethea, those numbers – while large – represent change found behind the couch compared to what Manning will receive.

While surprising that an A-list player such as Manning is not under contract in a couple months, it is hard to envision a scenario where he is not a Colt. Back in 2004, the Colts also allowed Manning to play out his contract – a rookie contract as the top pick in the 1998 Draft – before rewarding him with the seven-year, $98 million dollar deal with a $34.5 signing bonus that, for that time, rocked the financial world of the NFL.

That scenario may well play out again, depending on the progress of the CBA negotiations.

One interesting note: Bill Polian must know that whatever new agreement is forged will continue to feature a Franchise player designation. Without it, Manning could become subject to bidding by all 32 clubs. Polian — and Irsay — would have to enroll in witness protection should they lose Manning. They must have assurances from the NFL that no matter what deal is negotiated, the Franchise tag remains.

Peyton’s place will still be Indianapolis, although this may take a while.

Is there anything interesting for us to take away from all these teams voting for decertifying the union?

Not much. While significant, these votes are simply a formality, part of a process to allow NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA to have the option in place of dissolving their status as a union in order to allow players to sue individually for their rights. Players have had far greater success individually in antitrust court than the union has had labor court in arguing that restraints on their earning power are unreasonable.

Having said that, trust me on this: Smith does not want to decertify the union. He wants to make a deal and would much rather have his constituents be players rather than plaintiffs.

Aaron RodgersICONRodgers has embraced a role in the labor negotiations.

There was, though, an interesting development from the “Decertification Tour 2010”, now having played in 16 cities, in Green Bay. It was the election of Aaron Rodgers as the team’s union representative, replacing longtime union rep Mark Tauscher.

Rodgers is the most important player on the Packers and thus a notable addition to leadership for the NFLPA. The more prominent the players selected as representatives for the teams and the overall union leadership, the stronger the union will be as it engages with the NFL. Although he is just one union rep for one team, Rodgers brings clout as the best player on an important team taking an active role with the NFLPA in this crucial time.

Rodgers joins NFLPA Executive Committee member Drew Brees, Tom Brady (an alternate player rep) and a few other prominent players (Steve Hutchinson, DeMarcus Ware, Brian Dawkins) as union advocates during the collective bargaining process.

There were some baby steps taken in the most recent bargaining session in Washington, DC. With two players attending the meeting – Hunter Hillenmeyer of the Bears and Domonique Foxworth of the Ravens (both on injured reserve)– the 18-game schedule was fleshed out a bit for the first time, although without the detail in terms of health and pension benefits that the players requested.

Thus, while the NFLPA Decertification road show continues, Aaron Rodgers has jumped aboard in an active role.

Follow me on Twitter at adbrandt.

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