Six months ago, it was nearly impossible for anyone to imagine Peyton Manning not sporting blue and white with a horseshoe plastered on the side of his helmet.
Now that the Indianapolis Colts have floundered through a 2-14 season, cleaned house and appear ready to nab quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, a clear future for Peyton Manning has now become cloudy.
Minor spats between Colts owner Jim Irsay and Manning have been visible to the media, although the two have maintained that there are no feelings of ill will.
With the swirling rumors and uncertainty in Indianapolis, it’s hard to not assume that Peyton Manning could indeed be completing passes with another franchise next season. But again, that’s only if Manning can fully recover from a neck injury.
If Manning is 100% healthy and Irsay decides to make him available to other teams, there certainly won’t be a shortage of suitors lining up for his services. Among the teams recently mentioned as possible landing spots include the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
Here are FOUR NFL TEAMS that would create the most intriguing NFL storylines, questions and headlines heading into the 2012 regular season:
Staying in Indianapolis would create a unique stir in a variety of ways. It is no secret just how far the Colts fell without its franchise QB in the lineup. The following additional headlines and questions would clearly emerge as legitimate NFL storylines if Manning stayed in Indy:
- If Manning were to return, could he alone bring the Colts back into playoff contention?
- If Manning’s relationship with Irsay is at all strained, could they patch it together, especially if the team isn’t winning?
- How would Manning act as a mentor for Andrew Luck, assuming that the Stanford grad becomes Indy’s first round draft selection?
- Also assuming the Luck selection, how would the Manning-Luck combination compare to that of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre in Green Bay?
The storyline of a top draft pick staying with one team throughout his career is becoming more of a rarity, and if Manning stayed with the Colts – and could find success again – it would be a great NFL story for years to come. But at this point, it’s becoming more and more unlikely by the day.
New York Jets
The Jets knocked on the Super Bowl’s door two straight seasons, then fell apart during a 2011 regular season that resulted in no playoff berth and plenty of turmoil. If a healthy Manning wound up in New York, that all could change. That, plus the following storylines would emerge:
- What would become of Mark Sanchez? Would he fall into a career as a pretty boy and backup quarterback, or could he be traded elsewhere, and succeed with another team?
- How will the clubhouse adjust, after having so many issues this season?
- The NFL would have both Peyton and Eli Manning in the same city, and not just any city, but “The Big Apple”. Imagine the promotions, commercials and publicity that would arise with such news.
- Over the years, Manning has developed quite the rivalry with Tom Brady and the Patriots. Trading him to the hated Jets would further strengthen the rivalry with New England.
With Peyton Manning in New York, we could see even more commercials like these (above)
The Dolphins (6-10 in 2011) are a team in transition, but one that played much better over the second half of the season. New head coach Joe Philbin will be seeking a franchise quarterback, and while Matt Flynn may make more sense, the desire to acquire a future Hall of Famer may be too hard to ignore. Take the following headlines to consider, as well:
- Manning would find himself playing with Tom Brady in the AFC East. Two regular season games with Brady would further add fuel to this rivalry’s fire.
- Comparisons could be drawn between Manning and former Dolphins great Dan Marino
- The city of Miami would find another one of its franchises featuring a headline stealing sports star, joining the Miami Marlins and Miami Heat.
The Redskins, led by owner Daniel Snyder, are a franchise that frequently chooses to make flashy moves in free agency or via trade. With Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen now on board, the headline making moves have simmered significantly, but if given a chance to acquire Manning, Snyder may be unable to resist the urge. Take the following storylines, as well:
- Manning and Shanahan would draw comparisons to the Elway days in Denver
- Health questions could hit the forefront, especially if the Redskins are unable to patch up its current offensive line questions (or add additional receiving targets)
- Peyton would be playing in the NFC East division, and therefore facing off against brother Eli two times during the regular season
- The Redskins – one of the NFL’s proud and historic franchises – would have a quarterback star in place, which could help finally push Washington back into consistent playoff contention
- If a young quarterback is drafted (e.g. Robert Griffin III), a similar situation would be created (like what would occur if Manning were to stay in Indianapolis)
In the end, it’s all still speculation on what will happen with Peyton Manning. How will the future Hall of Famer’s career end? Will it end prematurely due to injuries, or can Peyton Manning find a way to revive his career and further add to his legacy?
Only time will tell, and no matter what happens, it’s a safe bet that plenty of storylines will emerge once a concrete decision is made.
Which Team Will PEYTON MANNING Play for in 2012?
- Miami Dolphins (25%, 1 Votes)
- Washington Redskins (25%, 1 Votes)
- New York Jets (25%, 1 Votes)
- Other (25%, 1 Votes)
- Seattle Seahawks (0%, 0 Votes)
- Arizona Cardinals (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 4