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Tue, 06 Mar 2012 05:40 PM EST

Less than 30 minutes after using the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis, the team approved it had agreed to arrangement on a new long term cope with the Pro Bowl defensive end – keeping one of the NFL’s most feared passing rushing tandems untouched. The move comes three days before the Colts must make an even bigger call about Peyton Manning’s future, but keeping Mathis and Dwight Freeney together in Indy was, obviously, one of the team’s offseason first concern. NFL spreads

“First and prime, we are going to make sure that we put both of those guys in position to make plays,” Pagano said in the NFL’s current scouting mix in Indianapolis. “I don’t think it might be terribly smart on my part or anybody else’s part to make sure that does not happen.”

Pagano even referred to Freeney and Mathis as game-wreckers.

But there are still questions on where the small pass-rushers will slot in Pagano’s new defense, which is likely to be a hybrid of Pagano’s preferred 3-4 scheme and the Colts’ longtime 4-3 alignment. NFL odds

At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, critics have long argued he wasn’t stout good enough to hold up over time against the run. And while there was a time during Tony Dungy’s reign that Indy experimented with Mathis at linebacker, a spot he could be customized for in a 3-4 defense, he is played good enough to make 3 Pro Bowls.

Freeney holds the club record for sacks (102½), while Mathis 2nd in organization history (83) and their propensity for stripping the ball from quarterbacks has made them a menace to opposing offenses for the past 9 seasons. That’s why Indy wanted them both back. An even bigger call, on Manning, is now on the clock.

If Indy pays Peyton Manning a $28 million bonus by Thursday, it’ll trigger the final 4 years of the 5-year, $90 million agreement Manning signed in July. If the Colts don’t pay up and can’t work out a new deal before March Thirteen, the sole 4-time MVP in league history would get an unlimited independent agent for the 1st time in his NFL career.

Manning, who turns 36 later on in the month, missed the entire 2011 season after having neck surgical treatment in September.

Surgeons were hoping the mixture of two bones would repair a broken nerve that was causing weakness in his throwing arm. Manning was cleared to practice in December and has been throwing since then.

Former team vice president Bill Polian and running back Joseph Addai, who has caught passes from Manning, the 2 have said Manning threw with good speed from 25 to 30 yards during a late December throwing session. Doctors say a complete recovery from the fusion usually takes nine to 12 months.

Grigson expounded Manning hasn’t been throwing at the Colts complicated and rules in the new collective negotiating contract proscribe coaches and general managers from watching Manning till April.

Team owner Jim Irsay has said if Manning is healthy, he’s going to be return. But the franchise quarterback has not yet passed a team physical.

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