Colts owner Jim Irsay denied a report that the team has discussed moving a $28 million option bonus owed quarterback Peyton Manning on March 8. The bonus would trigger the final four years of Manning's contract and prevent him from becoming a free agent.
Irsay also denied an ESPN report that the Colts have definitively decided to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in April. Other potential top prospects include Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
"There has been no discussion of a deadline push,n just like '98 with Manning/Leaf..u have 2 go thru a long,disciplined process of evaluation," Irsay tweeted Sunday, referring to the 1998 draft in which the Colts selected Manning over Ryan Leaf.
With the health of Manning in question after he missed the season recovering from neck surgery, the Colts are prepared to secure a franchise quarterback who will eventually take the baton from Manning.
Irsay is focused on hiring a new general manager after firing Bill Polian last week. Irsay tweeted Saturday that the Colts are interviewing seven candidates.
If they take Luck, the Colts will do so nearly 20 years since Irsay's father, Bob, selected another Stanford quarterback, John Elway, with the No. 1 pick in 1983, but ultimately traded the future Hall of Famer.
The sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen the younger Irsay welcomes the opportunity to complete the circle.
Of course, the Colts already rectified the missed opportunity with Elway by taking Manning as the top pick in 1998 and watching him develop into a future Hall of Famer, who led them to two Super Bowls, including a Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears.
Irsay said last week that he has no idea if Manning will play football again.
Manning has had three surgeries on his neck, including spinal fusion, and didn't practice or participate in team on-field activities in 2011. He will continue rehabbing at the team facility, a luxury he didn't have during the four-month lockout last year, and is hopeful of resuming his career in 2012.
But Manning will be 36 in March and his continued health isn't certain given the nature of the surgery and the physical demands of the NFL. If Manning is healthy, Irsay had vowed he will return.