NFL Thoughts – I See Green In Peyton Manning’s Future
Just my thoughts on where I believe Peyton Manning will end up next season
Peyton Manning is set to make a lot of money in the coming months. If the Indianapolis Colts pick up his option, they’ll owe him 28 million dollars. If they don’t pick up the option, he’ll become a free agent, and another team will make him the highest paid quarterback in the game. Not bad for a guy who didn’t take a single snap last season and has one less ring on his finger than his little brother.
I don’t expect the Colts to retain the main reason the Super Bowl was played in their town this past Sunday. They’ve already changed their general manager and head coach, which means the quarterback is usually next. And since the Colts have the #1 overall pick and Andrew Luck, touted as the best QB prospect to ever come out of college, will be available, I suspect they’ll take Luck and move forward with a new era.
So if Manning is on the open market, where does he go? Before I answer that question, we have to take a look at what’s important to Peyton and teams that would have interest in him.
For Manning, it should be about nothing but championships. He’s already made plenty of money in his carrer, he’s going to make even more from endorsements, and the team that signs him will obviously pay him handsomely. If he has to take 45 million dollars instead of 50 million dollars to go to a better team, he should do it. When it’s all said and done, he’s going to own pretty much every single important NFL QB record and go down as one of the best of all-time. But in order to add to his legacy, he needs to add rings. The two people he’ll always be linked to, his brother and his biggest rival, have more rings than him. Peyton is a competitive guy, as happy as he is for his brother Eli, you know it has to hurt him a bit to see his younger sibling have more diamonds on his hand.
There will be plenty of teams interested in Peyton. If you feel you’re close to the title and need a quarterback and a leader to take you to the next level, why wouldn’t you take a chance on Manning? And make no mistake about it, a team would be taking a chance when they sign Peyton because no one knows how healthy he is or will be. The Washington Redskins, the Arizona Cardinals, the Miami Dolphins, the Seattle Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Kansas City Chiefs all had about average defensives, but were hampered by bad quarterback play. Some of those teams have weapons at receiver and in the backfield and if Manning goes to any of those teams, he’s obviously going to improve their offense as long as he returns to form.
Then there are the legitimate contenders who have reliable quarterbacks, but were one or two offensive plays away from being in the playoffs or title game, and want a quarterback who they know can make those plays and take them from contender to champion.
Those teams are the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens, the Atlanta Falcons, and the New York Jets.
The 49ers have the best defense in the league and one of the best running backs and tight ends. Alex Smith showed improvement last season, but he doesn’t make his receivers better like Manning would do, and given how bad the 49ers receivers are, they need a QB who can make them look better.
The Ravens window is closing with an older defense but on offense they have weapons like Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, and Torrey Smith. While Joe Flacco has made it to the playoffs in each of his first four years, the Ravens defense, specifically Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, doesn’t have another two or three years from Flacco to make that next step. Reed called out Flacco before the AFC Championship game, and even though Flacco played a very good game, you wonder how much trust there is with the organization and their quarterback.
The Falcons are an interesting team that not many people are talking about, mainly because everyone seems to love Matt Ryan. What has he won though? He’s put up good numbers in the regular season but hasn’t won a playoff game and was shut out against the New York Giants despite having a loaded offense with Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Michael Turner. I’m sure the Falcons aren’t ready to give up on Ryan, but imagine what Manning could do with the Falcons offense.
The Jets have always a top defense under Rex Ryan, and over the years they’ve added offensive weapons like Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, but no one in New York or the locker room seem to trust Mark Sanchez. After failing to make the playoffs this past season, players came out and scrutinized Sanchez for not taking criticism well and not working hard. Sanchez responded by taking shelter with Kate Upton.
So where will Peyton end up?
My guess is the Jets. They just brought back Holmes, who had a very public falling-out with Sanchez in the final game of the season, and I’m not sure Sanchez can survive in that locker room after everything that’s come out in their off-season. He wants to be a star more than a good quarterback, and in New York, you’re only a star if you’re a good quarterback. Let Sanchez go to Miami where he can live on the beach with Kate Upton and live a happy life, at least off the field.
Once again, Manning is a competitor. There’s a reason why he wants to be the highest paid player in the league even though he’s already made more in a game than most people will make in a life. The Jets will not only allow him to compete, but they’ll allow him to compete against Eli and Brady as well. People say that Manning just wants to be a in small town and may not be able to handle the pressure of New York.
That might be true for good players in a small market who don’t get a lot of attention, but is there anyone in the NFL who gets more attention than Peyton Manning? Sure the New York media can be tough, but Manning has been dealing with the mainstream media for years and they can be just as tough as New York and have a much bigger reach.
The Jets need a leader who can keep the locker room together when it begins to fall apart. The Jets need a quarterback that can make a play when they need him to. Peyton Manning needs a team that is ready to win a championship in the next three or four years.
Just look at Peyton’s previous contracts, he obviously loves green in his pocket, hopefully he’s fine with it as the color of his jersey as well.