There’s no doubt about it, 2011 has been one of the weirdest seasons we’ve seen in a while, the main reason being that a main staple of the league since 1998, Peyton Manning, was not on the field. The Colts were not a playoff contender, the Texans won the AFC South, and a different Manning will have another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
Peyton’s neck injury has been the topic of discussion since he had the surgery last offseason, and even though there was plenty of speculation about Manning’s return, he never came back. Now we’re entering an offseason where it’s been made abundantly clear that Andrew Luck will be the Colts #1 draft pick, leaving several choices for Peyton Manning and company. Irsay and Manning have had their public back and forth conversations, and the more it continues, the more it looks as if Peyton will be moving on from the Colts.
So let’s say this happens, let’s say that Irsay and Manning come to an agreement that it’s best for him to walk, the Colts can do this before they’re required to tack on a $28-million bonus in March. If Peyton, a certified Hall of Famer, were to be let go by the team that he made relevant for the first time since they almost kept Elway, where would he go? That’s what I’m here for my friends.
PEYTON MANNING – THE ARIZONA CARDINAL?
This is probably the scenario that makes the most sense: the Cardinals have not had ANY problems with bringing in a veteran QB over the years, and unlike Minnesota, they’ve known how to make it work. Peyton would have a balanced offensive attack with Beanie Wells in the backfield, and an All-Pro WR in Larry Fitzgerald, a WR better than anyone he’s had to play with (yes Marvin and Reggie). Although Peyton would have to get in tune with all his new receivers, I’m convinced he could make it happen, and while he won’t come out swinging the way that he did in his record setting years in Indy, the Cardinals would have enough offensive firepower to get the job done….maybe compete with the Niners for the NFC West crown….if they can keep him standing in the pocket.
PEYTON MANNING – THE MIAMI DOLPHIN?
Okay Miami fans, this may not be the successor you had in mind when you thought “the next Dan Marino”, but you should be just as excited. Reports have surfaced that the Dolphins are going at Manning first before they open up the pocket book to pursue Matt Flynn, and no one can blame them. The major problem with Manning to the Dolphins? They allowed their QBs to be sacked 52 times, the 3rd most in the league, with Manning’s ever-so-delicate neck, that’s a major concern. The plus side? Reggie Bush turned it on late, they have the 11th ranked rushing attack, and Brandon Marshall is still their #1 WR….oh, and they have the 3rd best rushing D in the league….so he won’t have to win the game all by himself.
PEYTON MANNING….THE NEW YORK JET?
Ignore the patchy photoshop job here, but this is an actual possibility, the idea has been laid on the table and they’re going after him. Yet, I honestly believe this is the worst possible scenario for Peyton, not because of the cast, the Jets are immensely talented, but because of what’s come out recently about them…..they’re dysfunctional….okay, well, we knew that. Things exploded this offseason with the late season collapse and Greg McElroy outing the attitudes of the players, and while adding Peyton to the Jets would make them playoff and Super Bowl contenders, you have to wonder whether he wants to put up with the staff and roster. Are they going to be as hard on themselves as he is? Will they be willing to put in the hours that he requires his teammates to put in?
Cleveland Browns – Probably won’t happen, but it could be done. Childress is good at tailoring offenses to the strengths of his QBs, but he can be difficult to work with as he likes things his own way…we learned that with Brett Favre. The Browns also seem focused on grabbing RGIII, grabbing Peyton would change their draft board a little.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Doubtful. Blaine could use a mentor as he’s clearly not ready yet, but what do they have to offer outside of a solid defense and a hard working running back?
Denver Broncos – Again, a mentor-type QB that isn’t replacing an already decent QB, Peyton could make use of D. Thomas and Decker, but the running game would not be as effective as it was with Tim Tebow.
Kansas City – Depends on how Romeo feels about Matt Cassel, if he’s up in the air about him, I’d go after Peyton.
Washington – You’d have to wonder if Shannahan and Peyton could get along personality wise.
Seattle – No receivers, but a passionate coach that would let him have his own way with the offense…I’m 90% sure Pete Carroll would fire his OC and make Peyton a player-coach….if that’s even possible in the NFL.
NOTE: As always these photos are courtesy of Google