I had a fun chat on twitter yesterday with 12th Man Rising contributor Jake Bishop. We were discussing where Peyton Manning might sign if he was cut by the Indianapolis Colts.
While the thought of them cutting outright might sound silly, it remains a possibility. Manning is due a $28 million bonus in March, before any trade could take place. It is still uncertain if Manning will ever play again, and the Colts have the first pick in the draft and the ability to draft Andrew Luck to take over the franchise. Severing ties with Manning and moving on to Luck isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. I’m not trying to imply that Peyton will definitely get cut, or even that I think it’s a good idea for Indy to do so. I’m just saying that it’s possible.
And that brings be back to the conversation with Jake. If Peyton is cut, and then is cleared to play, He might be the best free agent QB since… ever. Many teams will certainly want him, and be willing to pay him top dollar for his services, so he’ll have the ability to chose from a number of teams.
You have to think that he’s going to want to join a team that already has solid depth and talent on both sides of the ball. Peyton is 36. He’s not going to want to rebuild. This will clearly be a win-now situation for him.
So here’s my take on his potential options:
New York Jets: The Jets will be most vocal, and the “presumed” landing spot in the media. They have a good defense, a good o-line, and a solid running game. I don’t see it happening though. The Jets have committed to Sanchez at QB, and would have to move him to keep him happy. Plus the Jets have little in terms of weapons at WR for Manning to use, not to mention a head case for a coach and a completely dysfunctional locker room.
Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins: All three will want him, but they don’t have much to offer. They aren’t close to competing for a super bowl. I think Manning would take one look at these rosters and pass.
Cleveland Browns: This is an interesting choice. Their defense is better than people think, but their offense was terrible and that is only partly due to the QB play. They are drastically short on playmakers. Manning would likely pass unless his decision process took long enough for the Browns to add some other pieces.
Denver Broncos: This is a tough one to handicap. It all comes down to if Denver would even make him an offer. Tebow mania is still in full swing, and the recent playoff win will likely tie their hands and force them to keep Tebow as the starter. Is Manning a big enough name to be able to supplant Tebow and still have Elway and Fox keep their jobs?
Arizona Cardinals: Arizona is a tough team to figure out. They have some talent, but QB play wasn’t really the reason why they finished outside the playoff. Then again, QB play was a major weakness and Manning would be a major upgrade. Plus, I think throwing to Larry Fitzgerald alone would be enticing for Manning.
Seattle Seahawks: Yes, believe it or not, the Seahawks would be players in this lottery. The Seahawks have a top 10 defense, a solid running game and a number of weapons. The Seahawks major weakness was definitely the QB, and inserting Manning in that spot would instantly make the Seahawks contenders.
San Francisco 49ers: Lets face it. The 49ers are the best team on this list. Even with a horribly pedestrian Alex Smith at QB they were able to get a first round bye this year. Put a QB of Manning’s ability in there and you have a legitimate super bowl favorite. The problem is that the 49ers don’t seem to understand that Smith is a liability. There are reports that Smith is about to sign a long extension worth $8-10 mil per year.