Based on some of the comments coming out of Indianapolis these days, it would appear as though Peyton Manning’s career with the Colts is coming to an end.
Such as life. Times change, people separate, memories fade. Why should sports be any different?
According to ESPN NFL Business Analyst Andrew Brandt, it would cost the Colts $50.5 million to keep Manning and Andrew Luck on the same roster in 2012. Manning’s option is $28 million in addition to a $7.4 million salary while the No. 1 overall pick will receive approximately $15.1 million in bonus plus salary in 2012. Thus, it doesn’t make sense financially for the Colts to pay Manning and draft Luck while trying to fill holes all over a depleted roster.
It doesn’t make sense from a risk/reward standpoint either. Manning is 35 and is still trying to recover from neck surgery that he had last May. I’m not a doctor but when you listen to other athletes talk about the same nerve damage that Manning has, it’s feasible that he could have complications the rest of his career. That’s why there’s still plenty of speculation about whether or not he’ll ever play again.
I’m not trying to be cold because I’m very aware of what Manning has meant to the Colts franchise over these past 14 seasons. But former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said it best when he stated that he would rather be accused of getting rid of a player a year too early rather than a year too late. This is a business decision and the right business decision for the Colts is to part ways with Manning and draft their future signal caller while they have that chance. There are teams like the Browns, Dolphins, Bills and Redskins who continuously fail to address their quarterback situation and the Colts have a golden opportunity to replace one franchise signal caller with another in just one fell swoop. Cold? Probably. But smart? Definitely.
Let’s not overlook the fact that this could be a good thing for Manning as well. During John Elway’s final years he essentially took a backseat to Terrell Davis because the Broncos became Davis’ team. He won two Super Bowls handing the ball off to Davis and throwing when he had to, but Manning doesn’t have that same fortune. The Colts proved last year that they’re a serious rebuilding project. At this point in his career, Manning shouldn’t be at the helm of a rebuilding team: he should be trying to take one more shot at winning a Super Bowl just like Elway did. (Assuming of course that Manning is healthy enough to ever pick up a football again.)
In a perfect world the Colts would already have Manning’s replacement on their roster. But they don’t, and now this is the situation that they find themselves in. Separations are never easy and if the Colts do decide to move on from Manning, it will be a hard decision. But it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Times change, people separate, memories fade. That’s just life.