06 March 2012

Peyton Manning to be released by the Colts, what's next?

Tell me you saw this coming twelve months ago, even as it seemed inevitable over the last couple of months. The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis is over as ESPN has reported that the Colts will announce that they will cut him tomorrow. After missing all of 2011 after having his third neck surgery in 19 months, the Colts could not afford to pay Manning and pay presumptive top pick Andrew Luck, especially as there are concerns about how healthy Manning is. So now the question is, where is Manning heading now?

Even as there are concerns about Manning's arm strength after these neck surgeries and how healthy he is, considering how he is 35 and not getting any younger, Manning will be the biggest free agent in a long time. Especially considering all the teams that need a franchise quarterback, there will be a big market for him. The teams that will be in the mix will be the Browns, Redskins, Dolphins and Seahawks with potentially the Chiefs, Cardinals, Jets and Broncos as well. But in my opinion, there are two clear frontrunners for Manning.

The first team is the Washington Redskins. The Redskins desperately need a franchise quarterback as they have lacked a top-flight QB since Mark Rypien, hence their mediocrity since they won Super Bowl XXVI. No wonder they have been aggressive in their pursuit of trading up for Robert Griffin III. The Redskins are not that far off from being a playoff contender, their defense is very good, their running game is passable and they did beat the Super Bowl Champions twice last season. Plus the Redskins have a ton of cap room so not only can they bring in Manning, they could also bring in Manning's former teammates Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, as Washington desperately needs wideouts as well. If they get Manning, they're not that far off from being an elite club in the NFC.

The other team I consider to be a favorite for Manning is the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins finished very strong, 6-3 after starting 0-7, and that was with Matt Moore at quarterback, who is no franchise quarterback. The Dolphins have a good defense, a solid running game with Reggie Bush proving himself as an every down back and the young Daniel Thomas flashing potential, and a top wideout in Brandon Marshall. The Dolphins are also not that far away from the playoffs and Manning would put them over the top.

But if I had to pick where Manning will land, I have to go with the Washington Redskins. But we shall see.

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