Peyton Manning’s don’t come along too often. Even at 35, after four neck surgeries, it was a very difficult choice of actually letting him go. Well, not that difficult, if you read into Jim Irsay’s words, and think about the huge bonus he just saved. Andrew Luck might be the next Hall of Famer, just a regular joe or a complete bust. Either way, Seeing Manning in any uniform but the Colts’ white or blue is going to be strange.
I believe in Andrew Luck, and I don’t believe running a football team should be involved with feelings. Loyalty isn’t a factor. The only questions a GM, and owner or whoever should ask himself is what will be the better thing for the team, mixing in the long and short run aspects into consideration. Presuming the Indianapolis Colts aren’t going to win a Super Bowl next year, even with a perfectly healthy, MVP-like Peyton Manning, than the choice is obvious, Andrew Luck.
Despite Peyton Manning being a four time MVP, a Super Bowl Champion, five time All-Pro and many other accolades and impressive numbers attached to his name, I for one don’t think he’ll ever be Manning-like great again. This won’t be Joe Montana with the Kansas City Chiefs. At best, Brett Favre with the Vikings, maybe with the Jets. Taking a risk on Andrew Luck makes more sense than taking a risk, with that bonus attached to it, on Peyton Manning.
Where to next? First it’s a good thing to remember that Manning isn’t restricted like other free agents. He was released from his contract by his team, meaning he can sign today with whoever he wishes. The Miami Dolphins seem like the leading contenders. It’s not a question of money for Manning. It’s a combination of where can I make a run for a title + who actually needs a quarterback real bad and will guarantee me 16 starts next season.
The Dolphins finished 6-10 last year. They have a 1000 yard receiver (Brandon Marshall), a 1000 yard rusher, and the team is dying for a franchise quarterback. I’m not sure at 35 Manning is exactly a guy to build on for years upon years, but he’ll do. Miami loves stars as well. Manning is no exception to the current trend with the Heat and the Marlins.
Arizona actually sound like a better fit. Playing with Larry Fitzgerald sounds tempting, although until the Cardinals get another decent threat offensively, running back or receiver, he’s still going to get triple coverage no matter who’s throwing the ball. Ken Whisenhunt and Manning sounds like a nice combo.
Other interesting prospects? The Redskins, the Chiefs and the Seahawks. The really out there kind of options? The New York Jets, unhappy with Mark Sanchez, turning New York into a two Manning kind of town, or even the Denver Broncos. But they’re riding the Tim Tebow horse until it gets swallowed up in the November-December mud.
For the Colts, for their fans and everyone involved with the team, it’s a new, strange day. Manning won 10+ games a starter in 11 of his 13 seasons. We’re marking off 2011, thank you very much. He won a Super Bowl, and made another one. The team completely fell apart with him gone. From the looks of things, Reggie Wayne won’t be playing there next year as well. They’re more concerned with re-signing Freeney and Mathis than key offensive players. The stadium was built partially because of Manning, some calling it “The House that Peyton built”.
Maybe it was tough making the decision, maybe it wasn’t. But I’m pretty sure it was the right decision to make, if they believe that much in Andrew Luck. With a little bit of actual Luck, people in Indianapolis will forget all about no. 18 if the wins come piling up pretty quickly. Anything will be better than the 2011 season.