It’s never easy to let your stars go. That goes for any sport. I remember when Jordan & Pippen left the Bulls. And yes, if you were wondering, I can compare just about every sports situation to something relating to my Bulls. Anyways, it was rough. You knew the end of greatness was near and you didn't know what was on the other side of the Dynasty Years. That unknown can just destroy the psyche of fans. And it did mine in 1999. But I kept watching, as any diehard fan would do with the hope that someday my team would return to greatness. I suffered through the 5 years until my team could even get back to respectable. And in those 5 years the team compiled a 119-314 record and I watched experiment after experiment go by the way side. There was the Marcus Fizer pick. There was trading Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler to complete the Baby Bulls of Chandler, Curry, and Crawford. Then the Jay Williams pick that was ruined by a fateful motorcycle ride. I saw my team bring in Tim Floyd as a coach as well as Bill Cartwright. Also, my team missed out on then key free agents Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, & Tim Duncan. It was rough.
And for the Colts, those types of years could be ahead of them as life without Peyton Manning becomes a reality. They got a big taste of life without Manning this past season as the Colts lost their first 13 games and finished the season 2-14, worst in the NFL. Manning is an all-time great. His name is all over the record books and he has a Super Bowl victory under his belt. And more impressive, under the free agent era, he has done this all in one uniform. But in my mind, as rough as it will be, you have to cut ties with Peyton Manning. He has been the face of your franchise for over a decade and has become one of the great iconic QBs in NFL history. All of this makes this year's decision that much more difficult (have you seen how many products he endorses??). But it’s no secret that football is not just a sport that millions of people love and follow religiously, its a business.
Peyton Manning would love to remain a Colt and play next season and finish his career with the blue horseshoe on his helmet. If that is physically possible, I'm sure the Colts would love that too. But, there are a couple things that complicate this decision. First of which is Manning's health. He might not be 100% by the time the season rolls around. Second, because you didn't have Manning last year, you now own the 1st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft which happens to boast 2 of the better QB prospects in the last 10 years. Third, he is due $28 million if you elect to pick up his option for the 2012 season. Colts management already paid him $20+ million to stand on the sidelines last year, the most expensive cheerleader in NFL history. Can the Colts really afford to do that again with so many glaring holes on their roster? Could you really justify wrapping up a ton of money in Peyton and a young QB you draft #1 overall? Not only that, but that young QB would have to sit on the bench for a few years. In my mind, the 2 guys widely recognized as the first 2 picks in this draft, are NFL ready next season. And lastly, that decision has a deadline and its fast approaching. That deadline is March 8th, next Thursday.
Big decisions are ahead for the Colts and its going to be FRANCHISE ALTERING. But as tough as a decision as it is, I think it’s a simple one. You have to cut ties with Peyton Manning. Set him free and let some other team take a chance on the Hall of Fame QB. He probably has 2 or 3 Pro-Bowl years left in him. If healthy, I don't doubt that to be true. However, from a financial standpoint, I just don't think you can justify bringing him back, even with a clean bill of health. The Colts need to use this past year to make a clean slate for the team and use this #1 overall pick to set up their franchise for the next 15years, just how they did when they drafted Manning. Decide who the best QB is for the future (Luck or Griffin) and use that $28million to not only sign that player, but fill in the many holes on the roster. It’s the only sensible decision in my eyes. You just can't bring in a young QB of Luck or Griffin's stature and have them holding a clipboard for a few years. Rookie QBs can have an impact (Cam Newton) and it will lessen the learning curve to get that guy out there immediately.
Manning will have options. There will be suitors for him. Washington seems like a great fit and beat Eli's SuperBowl winning Giants twice this past season. However, the Skins are looking to move up to #2 to get one of the next great arms. Miami has been starved of a great QB for years. Maybe Manning plays a few years there and then retires in Florida like many others. I could think of worse ideas. Or, why not Arizona? Kurt Warner did it and was one bad throw and one great catch away from winning a Superbowl with that team. Seattle and Kansas City also make a lot of sense. But whatever the case is, Manning will be able to move on and another fan base will embrace him.
So, as tough as it will be, you let Manning go. Let him walk like a gunslinger at sunset so to speak. Take what the football god's have given you, that being another 15 years of great quarterbacking with either Luck or Griffin (sounds like a future post) and be thankful your team's turnaround maybe be shorter than usual. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s the smart thing to do. The Andrew Lucks, the Robert Griffins, the Derrick Roses don't come around too often.
- Clark -
- Clark -