Weighing Manning’s options
With the firing of the Polians and Jim Caldwell, a new era of Indianapolis football has seemingly begun. Owner Jim Irsay has stated that the team will select Andrew Luck with the top pick in this years NFL draft. Irsay has also stated that he will meet with Manning before March 8th to discuss his future with the team. Let me tell you what that means. Manning is due a $28 million roster bonus and you know Irsay will not pay this. The future Hall of Famer has had three neck proceedures in the last two years and the team cannot devote that much money to one player, even if it is Peyton Manning. This means Manning will become an unristricted free agent and will be able to sign with any team of his choice.
Keep in mind that the 36 year old’s neck is still not 100% healthy and there is some speculation he may not be ready to start the 2012 season.
Listed below in inverse order are seven teams I believe will be in the Manning sweepstakes if and when the legendary QB is released from the Colts.
7.) Washington Redskins: Needless to say, the ‘Skins are desperate for a quaterback having Rex Grossman and John Beck as the main signal callers. They will try to trade up in the draft for Robert Griffin III, but will have to beat out Cleveland who has two first round picks and more assets to give to St. Louis at the #2 spot in the draft. The problem with Washington is that they do not have a lot of weapons and are just not that good. Manning will want to go to a team that is in contention to close out his career.
6.) New York Jets: The inconsistant play of Mark Sanchez has people in New York skeptical on their current quarterback, and maybe for good reason. To be true, the Jets have a lot more holes on the team than people think and Manning’s top weapon is a malcontent for a receiver, but of the teams that will be on this list, the Jets are one of the few that can compete immediatly with the addition of Manning.
5.) San Francisco / Baltimore: Ok, technically eight teams, not seven on the list, but both of these franchises have one thing in common; the organization and the fan bases aren’t exactly enthralled with their signal callers, eventhough they are deep into the playoffs. Alex Smith is having a solid year and fits into Jim Harbaugh’s system, but can you imagine Manning with that team? As far as Flacco goes, the media is all over him and Ed Reed (along with others) are chirping about his play after a win. At the time of this article, the Ravens and 49ers are in their divisions championship games, respectively and how they finish out will obviously determine the outcome of a decision, if any.
4.) Arizona Cardinals: Yes, it’s conceivable and throwing to Larry Fitzgerald is any QB’s dream. They are going to have a solid backfield next season and the defense is ok. Manning would play indoors and would be the immediate starter over free agent bust Kevin Kolb and second year vet, John Skelton. However, there are two factors that would clearly shut this move down: The offensive line is terrible and Bill Bidwell.
3.) Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins, believe it or not are actually in a tough situation. Matt Moore played well enough to make the Dolphins think he’s the man, but they aren’t completely sold. This would be a good spot for Manning to land because Miami actually has some weapons at their disposal with Jake Long, Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush (who bulked up and had his first thousand yard season). Playing in the beautiful weather that Manning would enjoy doesn’t hurt either.
2.) Minnesota Vikings: Sorry Viking fan, Christian Ponder aint the one. Look at the possibilites; indoor stadium, great running game depending on Adrian Peterson’s injury, they have the third pick in the draft where Justin Blackmon (depending on what the Rams do) may just be sitting on the board, solid offensive line and a defense that is getting older, but still very effective. Manning would not be that far from his comfort zone with this, but at the same time, we saw what happened when another elderly future Hall of Famer did when he got to Minnesota. Just sayin’.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs: The irony of having two of the greatest signal callers (Montana) to play for this organization at the end of their careers just may come to pass. This team is actually in good shape. On offense they will have Jamaal Charles back and there are rumors that they are looking to Trent Richardson in the draft. Dwayne Bowe and the young Jonathan Baldwin make a nice duo and the defense has some nice playmakers. Thow Manning into this mix, especially in the AFC West division, this team becomes a contender … real quick.