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Irsay has promised to make Manning the highest-paid player in league history, but even he acknowledges that's a very high price with a salary cap slated at $120.3 million. Indy hopes that by lowering Manning's salary cap number, they will be able to sign more of their free agents.
But that's not necessarily what Manning wants.
"While I appreciate Jim Irsay offering to make me the highest-paid player, I told him I'd rather he save that money and keep whoever it is ... Joe Addai, Charlie Johnson, whoever that may be," Manning told The Indianapolis Star on Friday night.
Manning also said he wanted a deal completed by Sunday or earlier.
The team confirmed Friday that it had agreed to new deals with kicker Adam Vinatieri and safety Melvin Bullitt. On Thursday, the Colts also lost linebacker Clint Session to Jacksonville, which signed him to a five-year deal worth more than $29 million.
Indy also signed its first draft pick, fourth-round choice Delone Carter, a running back from Syracuse. His agent, Hadley Engelhard, said Carter signed a standard four-year deal with league minimum base salaries.
The Colts are still trying to re-sign two key veterans: running back Joseph Addai and left tackle Charlie Johnson, two players who would help protect Indy's biggest investment.
"We've been in a lockout, and when you think about that, it's very difficult to get that (Manning's deal) done in two, three days," Caldwell said. "It's going to take a couple days, and it will be done at some point in time. When it is, we'll be ready to go."
Manning isn't the only player the Colts have been getting medical checks on.
Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark has been cleared for full participation and will wear a splint on the wrist he injured last fall, the team said. Other key players cleared to practice are receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee), tight end Brody Eldridge (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (neck) and cornerbacks Jerraud Powers (foot, arm) and Kevin Thomas (knee).
The team also said that receiver Austin Collie has not shown any lingering symptoms of the two concussions that forced him to finish last season on injured reserve. He is expected to be a full participant in practice next week.
"I feel good, I'm excited to get back into it," Collie said. "At this point, everything is great."
Except, of course, the status of Manning.
"Whenever he's ready, he'll come back," Caldwell said. "He gets himself ready faster than most people."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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