With a $28 million dollar roster bonus due on March 8th the debate is on.
Where will Peyton Manning play football in 2012?
There’s little about this that is sure. Everything ends with a question mark. Where will he play? Will his neck hold up? Did his injury happen because of the Saints “Bounty Gate”?
Here are some scenarios we can see playing out:
This is where Peyton is under contract, unless Manning is released. 2011 proved that Manning was the entire Colts offense. The Colts went from Super Bowl contenders to top of the NFL Draft in just one season without Manning. But with the top pick in the draft the Colts will go quarterback. Which will make moving Manning a little easier, but the Colts sure would like there cake and eat it to. Keeping Manning and getting Luck or RG3 but with the cap being what it is the Colts might not be able to make it work. Manning would like to play out his career in the Big Oil Drum. I don’t think that will happen. So the Colts will do the unpopular thing by releasing Peyton on March 7th. The Colts will be better in the long run with Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but no matter what decision is made here it will be remember for a very long time. The Colts release Manning and do not resign him.
Manning can stay in a “dome”. Seattle needs a quarterback, and Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer. Charlie Whitehurst is OK in small doses, but he should stay a backup. Josh Portis is young and does not look like a star in wait. Seattle would welcome Manning with open arms. A plus for the Seahawks is that Pete Carroll has done a good/great job with this team. Winning a playoff game in 2011 versus the Saints with not more than duct tape and bubble gum. But any coach needs talent. On offence there’s not a lot. Marshawn Lynch played lights out last year. Adding Manning and Reggie Wayne up grades the offence in the short term, but will that be enough to make a big playoff run? In the past it could have, but not now. This would be a good spot for Manning if there was more talent. I think Manning sees that and won’t sign a contract for the Seahawks.
San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers made it to the NFC Title game last year with Alex Smith. Smith is a free agent. So would the 49ers try and add Manning to get over the hump? Manning would be an upgrade to say the least. The 49ers have said that Smith is their guy. It would be hard to tell the fan base we have no interest in a Hall of Famer, in favor of a mediocre Alex Smith. The offense would become a force, the young talent would flourish. But at last this won’t happen. The 49ers will ride out Alex Smith. But I think this would be a great place for Peyton to win another Super Bowl.
New York Jets:
Good Talent around the Big Apple. Santonio Holmes is a big play receiver. The defense is tough and holds their own. Something Peyton never had in Indianapolis. The biggest market in the United States would have the biggest star in the NFL. The Jets would like to beat the Giants on the back pages in the New York Papers. The Giants have the upper hand right with winning the Super Bowl. Rex Ryan is not the style of coach Manning seems to like. Ryan is a loud mouth that writes too many checks his players can’t cash. To Rex’s credit he has his players back like few others. Coaches like Ryan don’t last too long in places for a reason. New York also seems done with Mark Sanchez. But the front office seems to want to give Sanchez another chance. So seeing the Jets go after Manning seems unlikely. I’m not too sure that big brother will want to follow little brother to the Big Apple.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs are late to this party, but there’re still in it. Pluses are Dwayne Bowe is a stud; Jamaal Charles is a rising star. Romeo Crennel is loved by his players. He is a player coach and runs easy training camps, practices. Things that Manning could be looking for in a new team. Minuses Jamaal Charles is coming off injury, Chiefs are a run first team, and the offensive line needs works. If Manning showed up Bowe could sign his franchise tag contract faster. It would make Bowe and Charles a lot happier too. But the Chiefs already have quarterback issues. Matt Cassel is under contract, the team is looking to possibly replace him. Kyle Orton is a free agent and is a better player than Cassel. Nobody is sure where Orton will end up in 2012. If Manning goes to Kansas City Orton won’t be there.
In the 2010 basketball off season South beach was all the rage. But that never really has been the case in football. Miami has never replaced Dan Marino. Peyton Manning will be just another band aid in the short term. A Super Bowl Title would be worth the all headaches of win at all cost now. Miami has two great players in left tackle Jake long and wide out Brandon Marshall. Armed with the 8th pick in the draft the Dolphins should add more fire power. New head Coach Joe Philbin is an offensive minded coach, a plus for Manning. But Philbin is from Green Bay where he spent the last few years working with Matt Flynn. Flynn is a lot younger and more of a risk. The Dolphins will be a player in the Matt Flynn sweepstakes as well. Manning would put more fans in the seats which could mean more to the owners of the Dolphins. Florida is the retirement capital and could be adding one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
The Cardinals have plenty of offense. Up and coming running back in Beanie Well, a solid offensive line, and the best wide receiver in the NFL today in Larry Fitzgerald. The defense is solid with veteran players and up and coming stars. Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt is an offensive mind that needs a veteran quarterback to run his offense. Whisenhunt could be on the hot seat soon if the team doesn’t start winning on a regular basis. The Cardinals hit gold with Kurt Warner, but completely missed the mark with Matt Lienart. So going after another veteran quarterback makes sense. If Reggie Wayne comes to the desert too, that would give the Cardinals a great second receiver as well. Then the Cardinals would be ready to fly high again. Arizona would be the easiest team for Manning to find early success with, for the Cardinals need the least to turn around. It was only three years ago that this team almost won the Super Bowl. Manning could lead a turnaround, win a Super Bowl, and ride off into the sunset. Arizona has been battling Florida for retirees for years. In this case, Arizona wins and does so big!
Peyton could just retire. Not go through this ugly mess and just go be a spokesman for the NFL and his brand. Work in the media, doing a network Sunday morning show. Go to Canton, Ohio in five years and just enjoy life. But I can’t see this happening yet. Peyton has too much football left in him to walk away. But if Manning and or doctors think his neck won’t hold up to the beating of another NFL season, Peyton Manning could just retire then.