Where Will He Go: An Off-season With Peyton Manning
As he gets hit, he heaves the ball deep down the sideline to Reggie Wayne. As Wayne separates, the ball if perfectly placed – just one more notch on the future Hall-Of-Famer’s belt. But this time Manning’s down, and he’s not moving. Could this spell the end of Peyton Manning?
Now if you watch football in any sort, you would know this is not what happened, because there was not one specific hit that can be identified as the cause of the neck injury Manning is now facing. According to Jim Irsay, “the injury built up over time.” “This injury” was not a small one, and in fact this injury is one of the main reasons why the Colts finished 2-14 last season. The neck injury Peyton suffered caused him to undergo three different surgeries and due to these surgeries, Peyton was not physically fit to play in any games last season. Further, this specific injury has brought about utter chaos in the football world.
Since the Colts finished 2-14, they were last in the NFL and they will receive the first overall pick in April’s rookie draft, and many experts believe they will go on to draft Stanford’s quarterback, Andrew Luck. Luck has been named one of the greatest draft prospects since Peyton himself, and the Colts couldn’t pass on a chance like this, could they? But if they do draft Andrew Luck, NFL’s cap is not set up to allow any team to employ two potential all-pro quarterbacks, which poses quite the conundrum. So what are the Colts to do? Draft the unproven, yet young and healthy, Andrew Luck and win in the future, or will they keep Peyton, trade the first pick for a multitude of picks and try to build around Manning to win now?
On Twitter, Jim Irsay has made it clear that if Peyton was deemed to be healthy, the Colts would not get rid of him. But now that two different doctors have pronounced that Peyton is physically fit to resume play, it seems as if Jim is going to go back on his word. Through this social networking site, Irsay has all but confirmed that the Colts have officially released Manning. But with his $28 million bonus due March 8th, many believe that the confirmation will occur within the next few weeks. Nevertheless, with Manning being physically fit, and with him wanting to play more than anything else, I believe he will do whatever it takes to once again play for an NFL team. The only question remains is which team will he play for?
There are multiple suitors that can make a case for why Peyton would be a good fit with their respective team. Some of these teams include: the Cardinals, the Jets, the Redskins and the Dolphins.
Personally, I believe that the best opportunity would be with the Arizona Cardinals. They just signed Peyton’s quarterback coach from the Colts to be their quarterback coach, and Peyton is apparently having dinner with their top talent. This talent they currently possess is a top-five receiving weapon named Larry Fitzgerald, who has shown his amazing ability by catching 170 passes for 2,548 yards from quarterbacks John Skelton, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb in just two years. If an all-pro receiver isn’t enough to sway Peyton’s choice, it can also be said that the NFC West is the most conquerable division in all of football and would pose the easiest path to another Super Bowl for Manning. Just think what Kurt Warner was able to do with Larry and you will see why this opportunity should make Manning’s mouth start watering. Although, he does have other options.
He could sign with the New York Jets who say they are “one piece away” from a Super Bowl ring. They have a tremendous defence, and an above average receiving core. But if I were Peyton, I would want to play in the nicest weather possible, not in the terrible winter’s that New York can have.
The Redskins can also make a case as a team that is suitable for this famous all-pro quarterback. Their defence is of good quality and they have some nice weapons on offence, but with Mike and Kyle Shanahan running the show in Washington, it seems doubtful that the game-managing Manning would be able to work efficiently with this duo.
Last, the Dolphins possess a great young receiver in Brandon Marshall, a defence who came along at the end of last season, a running game that exploded with Reggie Bush, a franchise blind side left tackle in Jake Long and, as a cherry on top of the cake, Manning already owns a condo in South Beach. Furthermore, in the beautiful weather of Miami, Manning would get the chance to duel it out with his top rival, Tom Brady, twice a year. Coincidentally, he would receive what seems as an easy 2012 schedule facing the likes of the 49ers, Bengals, Cardinals, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks, Texans and Titans. Oh yeah, he would get to face Indy. Seems a little too perfect, doesn’t it?
Just about everyone in the football world wonders where this four time MVP and Super Bowl champion will go, but this process will take time, potentially all off-season, and it involves a few steps, with the first one occurring before March 8th when the Colts will ultimately decide to release Peyton Manning.
…and that is the last word.