Manning's options limited by his demands

January 5, 2012
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If he parts ways with the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning’s search for a new team might be a lot like the commercial for the Internet car buying site.

The buyer in the ad says he wants a car, and a million pop up out of nowhere. Then he says he wants a red one, and a bunch disappear. By the time he’s done listing his criteria there are a handful of good vehicles to choose from.

At first glance, Manning would be a good fit for almost any of the 31 NFL teams not in Indianapolis. Well, other than the Packers, Saints and Patriots. Those teams already have future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

And why should Manning worry? If he can turn a 2-14 team into a Super Bowl contender, he should be plug and play with just about any team.

But it’s not quite that simple.

First, if he’s healthy, Manning wants to play. That’s obvious. He’s not coming to camp to compete for a starting spot. He wants a guarantee. So if you have an established quarterback, or a young and developing quarterback, that probably rules out that match.

Second, Manning, despite his riches, isn’t playing for nothing. The Vikings paid Brett Favre somewhere in the neighborhood of $22 million annually. For a short-term deal (one to three years), Manning will want at least that much.

So the team that wants Manning had better have $20 million to $25 million in cap space. A few more teams just evaporated.

Despite the miracles he worked in Indianapolis, Manning is no longer interested in hoisting a team on his shoulders. And he’s not willing to play for pride or exercise. There’s only one reason for Manning to come back and risk his health: to win a Super Bowl. So if you’re not a true championship contender—right now—you may be excused.

Speaking of his health, there’s another thing to consider. Even if doctors deem Manning fit to play, he’s well aware that he’s had three neck surgeries in less than two years. And neck injuries are serious business.

Manning isn’t coming back to be anybody’s tackling dummy. Yes, Manning has the quickest trigger in the NFL, but he’s beyond his days of standing behind a porous offensive line.

The team that wants Manning had also better have a coach and offensive coordinator willing to bend to No. 18’s will and structure their offense to suit his skills. Favre showed in his year in New York what a great quarterback looks like in a system that doesn’t suit him.

So if a team wants Manning, all they’ll need is a boatload of cap space; a solid offensive line; a championship-caliber defense, special teams and receiving corps; an egoless coaching staff and a quarterback happy to play backup for one to three years.

A domed stadium or warm climate would be a nice bonus.

That takes the list of teams down to a small handful.

It worked out in Minnesota for Favre for a year until the wheels fell off.

So who knows? It could work out for Manning.

Or maybe Indianapolis doesn’t look so bad after all.

  • About that offensive line...
    Good commentary...which bring up a point about his current. Indy's young and shallow offensive line might not be very comforting. I bet he would love to be behind a line that could both pass and run block to maximize his skills.
  • Pouten
    I look forward to not hearing about Pouting Manning. Then again - a spoiled little child like Irsay deserves a spoiled little child like Pouten.
    • Pout?
      Exactly what has Peyton done wrong? Played his heart out for one franchise his entire career and won a super bowl while making it to another. He is a pouter because he wants to win?
      That's just stupid and its not his fault the colts may go another direction.
    • Miami
      I think Peyton Manning is a Dolphin in 2012. Makes the most sense to me. And he makes them an instant Super Bowl contender.
      • ^^^This^^^
        Totally agree! Peyton Manning in Miami would be scary for three reasons. 1)Brandon Marshall 2)The Dolphins have a solid defense 3)AFC East familiarity
      • Prediction
        Peyton never plays again. If by a slim chance he does, it shouldn't be with the Colts. Irsay would be foolish to pass on a young hungry ready and able Luck for an older health risk Manning.
      • Say bye to the Colts
        Peyton Manning is too much of a classy player to have this ordeal tarnish his reputation the way Brett Favre did in years past. Peyton Manning will not be a Colt and will want to play for a contender. Teams like 49ers, Jets, Cardinals perhaps even Dolphins and Red Skins are all teams that need help at the quarterback position. All teams with better than average defences and lots of potential on offence. The 49ers and Jets both have quarterbacks, but they are teams which are literally a quarterback away from a superbowl. The 49ers may stick with Alex Smith, but the Jets are known for making high profile moves, same goes for the Redskins. Can you imagine Peyton playing in the same division as Tom Brady or Eli Manning?

        Teams like the Browns, Jaguars, Seahawks are teams that need help at the quarterback position as well, but Peyton will want to play for a contender.

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