Peyton Manning is no longer an Indianapolis Colt. It was made official this afternoon in a joint press conference with Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay outlining an amicable parting of ways and citing ‘extenuating circumstances’ for the reason that Colts fans must waive goodbye to the most important sporting figure in the history of their city.
This whole Manning saga has outlined the fact that owners all have their own ideas of success. Jim Irsay is essentially trading a few seasons of playoffs, conference championships and maybe even another Super Bowl title, for the potential to have consistent playoff appearances for a decade, starting in a few years time.
From a business perspective, saying goodbye to Manning makes sense. Everyone already has a Peyton Manning jersey, but now everyone will be lining up to buy Luck jerseys – more revenue from merchandising. Playoff appearances and wins boost revenue and profit, so giving up 3 years with Manning for a decade or more with Luck makes sense from a financial standpoint. Irsay also saves the $28 million he was due to pay Manning. For the business? Great call Jim.
It raises an interesting question, is the goal of running an NFL franchise:
- Being profitable
- Consistent playoff competitiveness
- Winning a Super Bowl
I tend to think that all owners have a different opinion on this question. If you ask Woody Johnson (owner of the Jets), he would likely say that winning a championship is the most important, but he runs a profitable team that has been consistently competitive over the last five seasons. Irsay seems to think that consistent playoff competitiveness is the main goal (easy to say when you’ve recently held the Lombardi trophy).
Let’s take a quick look at the teams that could end up with Peyton. If one of these teams doesn’t end up being his choice, I will be very surprised.
Make no mistake, Peyton is going to go to a team that can win immediately. The Dolphins have a solid defense, anchors on the offensive line in Jake Long and Mike Pouncey, and Brandon Marshall at receiver. If they want Peyton they should attempt to sign Reggie Wayne and use their early first round pick on an offensive linemen, or defensive back (as teams will have to throw against them more). Miami has great weather, but Manning would have to go on the road to Buffalo, New York and New England. I’m not convinced that Peyton believes his best chance at winning a Super Bowl means fighting Tom Brady for a divisional crown. Will new head coach Joe Philbin give up autonomy to Manning? Doubtful.
This makes the most sense to me. The Cardinals are used to bringing in a veteran QB and have the offensive weapons to make Manning happy. They release Kolb, keep Skelton as the backup to learn under Manning and sign Wayne to play opposite Fitz. They could use the first round pick on the offensive line, which is just ok, but Manning is used to that and could mask their deficiencies with his changes at the line of scrimmage. Ken Whisenhunt strikes me as a guy who would give Manning free reign to make decisions on the field.
The Redskins have a good offensive line and base their running game on the stretch zone, which Manning is exceptional at. Offensive weapons are decent with Santana Moss, Fred Davis and Leonard Hankerson. They could add a receiver in the draft. I don’t know how much autonomy the Shanahan’s would be willing to give to Peyton, but this team and system is a good fit. The NFC East is very tough, and would be near the bottom of the list in terms of ‘easy routes’ to the playoffs.
A team no one is mentioning but is a dark horse candidate. Matt Schaub is owed $7 million this season and is in the last year of his contract. The Texans could release Schaub, or trade him to another QB needy team for some additional assets. Houston also runs the stretch zone, has a great offensive line and solid playmakers in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. In terms of easy routes to the championship there isn’t a better landing spot. The Jaguars, Titans and oh yes, his Colts are unlikely to beat the Texans with Schaub at QB, let alone Manning. If you don’t think Peyton would like to kick the (expletive) out of his old team for the next few seasons – you don’t understand his competitive nature.
The Chiefs do not have a lot of money tied up in their current QBs and they have a great supporting cast including Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, Tony Moeaki, Steve Breaston and Jamaal Charles. The division isn’t overly competitive and Romeo Crennel would seem to be ok with Manning calling the shots on offense. It’s one of those cases where it might just make too much sense for him to land in Kansas City.
Seattle plays in the bad weather and they aren’t even one of the best two options within the division for Peyton (San Fran/Arizona). That being said, stranger things have happened. Pete Carrol is an excellent recruiter and they do possess a solid offensive line, John Carlson, Sidney Rice, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin.
Don’t let the media skew the facts. Andrew Luck is a great QB prospect, but he is just that – a prospect. I, along with everyone else, believe that he will be a very good quarterback, but he will never be as good as Manning. Period. Quote me, take it to the bank, whatever term you want to use.
The evaluation process for QB’s is anything but an exact science. Take a look at the best QB’s in the league (Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Rivers, Roethlisberger). None of those guys were better ‘prospects’ than Luck. Even last season opinions were split on Cam Newton and many believed he wouldn’t be successful at the NFL level. Would the Colts trade the #1 overall pick right now for Newton? No? Why not?
Colts fans are learning the meaning of bittersweet. They are sad to lose the face of their city, but excited about what the future may hold – and they should be. But for those out there who think Andrew will be better than Manning – Good Luck.