Top Five Destinations For Peyton Manning

The Indianapolis Colts hold the number one overall pick in this years NFL Draft. After finishing 10-6 and making the playoffs in 2010, the Colts finished 2-14 in 2011, after future hall of fame QB Peyton Manning underwent his third neck surgery in his career in early September, his second in six months. Manning was ruled out for three to four months after, with a small chance he could return in mid to late December if the Colts were still in the playoff race. Unfortunately, the Colts were not even a thought in the playoff race, starting the season at 0-13, before winning two straight in weeks 15 and 16, then losing in the finale to clinch the number one overall pick. The Colts in no way were going to risk putting Peyton Manning in a meaningless game and risk aggravating his neck. Although during the final couple weeks of the season, reports said that after team practices, Manning would take the field and do some light practicing with a couple of his teammates. That practicing did not persuade the coaching staff to give Manning any reps during the season.

Now after Colts owner Jim Irsay fired team President Bill Polian and his son, vice president of football operations, Chris Polian, and head coach Jim Caldwell, Peyton Manning is looking at a different look to the team. Not only did the Colts change the coaching staff with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and management, but they have a lot of big name free agents to re-sign. The Colts impending free agents include, wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, center Jeff Saturday, and defensive end Robert Mathis. Wayne, Garcon, and Saturday are huge key pieces to the offense and Peyton Manning’s personnel. Not only are the Colts facing losing those free agents, but they are thinking of cutting ties with Manning himself. Peyton is 36 years old, and facing an uncertain future with the neck situation, and a top QB prospect in this years NFL Draft, Andrew Luck from Stanford, who the Colts are reportedly going to select with the number one overall pick. Manning has a $28 million bonus due this March, and the Colts have to make a big decision on if they want to keep him and give that bonus, or release him and say goodbye to the greatest player in franchise history. With the latest news around Indianapolis, it sounds like the Colts may very well let go of Manning and start a new era with Andrew Luck at quarterback.

Now, if Indianapolis does indeed cut ties with Peyton Manning, you can bet there will be a surplus of teams that would love to have him as their starting QB. There may be about half a dozen teams who put on a real serious pursuit for Manning’s services. Some may drop out if they’re able to land the second best QB in the NFL Draft, Robert Griffin III from Baylor, or sign prized free agent Matt Flynn from the Green Bay Packers. It’ll be real interesting to see who lands Manning, if he is without a doubt let go by the Colts. Now i will name the top five destinations for Peyton Manning if he hits free agency. One of the teams will definitely surprise you.

5.Dallas Cowboys – BIG SHOCKER! I know, Tony Romo is the starting quarterback and is younger than Peyton Manning. I think Jerry Jones will do whatever it takes and spend whatever it takes to get a championship in Dallas, even if it means signing Peyton Manning to take over at 36 years old. Tony Romo has yet to win a playoff game, and is not a very good clutch quarterback. Many people don’t think he can be a clutch QB or win a championship. Peyton Manning has been to two Super Bowls and won one. He has only missed the playoffs twice in his career (1998) and (2001), since entering the league in 1998. He is a clutch quarterback, and may be the key to Dallas finally getting back to the playoffs and bringing a Lombardi trophy to their new stadium. It may be a far out idea, and unnecessary risk to take, but Jerry Jones wants a championship right now in Dallas, and may just take a risk with Peyton Manning, and then trade Tony Romo and get a couple of draft picks, or a key player back for him. Do I think it’ll happen? Not definitely, but I have a hunch that it could with Jerry Jones running the team.

4.Arizona Cardinals – Yes, I know what you’re going to say, the Cardinals just signed Kevin Kolb to a $65 million contract. Although that’s true, Kolb is due a $7 million bonus in March, the Cards could decide to release him, like the Colts may due with Manning. The Cardinals may be an attractive spot for Manning, they play in another dome stadium, warm weather, have a top three wide receiver on the team in Larry Fitzgerald, and a better run game then the Colts, with Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams. The last time the Cardinals had an aging QB at the helm, they went to Super Bowl XLIII with Kurt Warner at the helm and almost won the whole thing, had Santonio Holmes not made a ridiculous game winning touchdown catch to clinch it for the Steelers with 35 seconds left. Now if the Cards can get rid of the Kevin Kolb deal, and land Peyton Manning, who is better than Kurt Warner and Kevin Kolb, they become a legit playoff contender, if not at least, a title contender. Also, the Cardinals hold the #13 overall draft pick in the NFL Draft this year, and could use the pick to get Manning another big receiving target like Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina or Michael Floyd from Notre Dame, or select an offensive lineman to help protect Manning, like OT’s Jonathan Martin from Stanford, or Riley Reiff from Iowa, or even add a defensive player to beef up the defense, which was solid the second half of 2011. So don’t count out Arizona in the Peyton Manning hunt.

3.Miami Dolphins – Many people would have the Dolphins number one or two on this list, but Peyton Manning doesn’t strike me as a Miami type of guy. I do believe that Miami will be a top bidder for Manning’s services as they’re a QB away from possibly being a playoff team, and why not try to get a future hall of fame QB for a few years and try to conquer the Patriots and Jets in the AFC East, and make a long playoff run? The Dolphins already have a solid RB in Reggie Bush, a solid TE in Anthony Fasano, and a very good WR in Brandon Marshall. You can put any other weapon in there, and Peyton Manning will automatically make them great and a pro bowler, that’s what Peyton brings to the table as a QB. There was a report out a couple of weeks ago that signing Peyton Manning is the Dolphins top priority and if that’s true, you know they’ll throw big money at him, and may very well see Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the same division, going head to head twice a year.

2.San Francisco 49ers – Alex Smith had a good comeback year, throwing only five interceptions all year. He took a conservative approach this year under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, and hardly turned the ball over. He even played great against the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. He threw for 3,144 yards, which was only good for 19th in the league. It’s a passing league these days, and QB’s that can pass for big chunks of yards are becoming key. This years Super Bowl matchup between the Giants and Patriots features a 5,235 yard passer (Tom Brady) and a 4,933 yard passer (Eli Manning). Also, Smith only threw 17 touchdown passes, which was 17th in the league. The 49ers have a good amount of offensive weapons like Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree, and reportedly have enough cap room to also go after a top WR like Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, or Dwayne Bowe. So if you can get one of those WR’s to pair up with Michael Crabtree, and also have a top five TE in Vernon Davis, and a top 10 RB in Frank Gore, you should have a QB who can make great use of those weapons, which is where Peyton Manning comes in. Peyton Manning has always been top 10 in the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns every year since 1998. He’s finished top five in touchdown passes every single year since 1998. He’s also finished top five in passing yards every year since 1998, except 2005 and 2007, where he finished seventh each year. So you know what you’re getting with Manning, and a big time QB looks like the exact missing piece from the puzzle for the Niners to win a Super Bowl. They own a top defense, and made it to the NFC Championship game with Alex Smith at QB, and only lost by three. Adding Peyton Manning makes them a top favorite for the Super Bowl.

1.Washington Redskins – The Redskins have been rumored to be in on Peyton Manning since the middle of the season, whether they had to acquire him by trade or sign him in free agency. Washington had bad QB play all year by John Beck and Rex Grossman. They need a QB in the worst way. Although I don’t think Peyton Manning will get them to a Super Bowl all by himself, it does help out that they have the number six overall pick. So they can take one of the top three WR’s in the draft, like Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State (who has been dubbed the next big WR threat in the NFL), or the aforementioned Alshon Jeffery or Michael Floyd. The Redskins have a solid defense, and an ok run game, and if you add Peyton Manning, and one of Blackmon, Jeffery, or Floyd in the draft, that makes for a very interesting team, and another threat in the NFC East. If the Redskins can pull off signing Manning, and adding a WR with the sixth overall pick, then they may be a tough playoff threat, but even with those two and the good defense, it’s hard to win in the NFC East when you got the Super Bowl XLVI bound New York Giants, the “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles, who played great in the final month of the season, and Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys who are one offensive lineman, and a couple of secondary players away from finally maybe making some noise in the playoffs, all in the same division as the ‘Skins. Washington has been linked to Manning for months, and it’s no secret that they will chase him hard if he hits free agency, and might still chase him hard if the Colts keep him and listen to trade offers. As of right now, the Redskins are my pick to land Peyton Manning if he hits the open market, but I’m not as confident if the Colts keep him, and listen to offers, cause I think teams will be even more wary and cautious giving up multiple first round picks for him. Also, remember, you read it here first, the top five destinations for Peyton Manning are Washington, San Francisco, Miami, Arizona, and Dallas. Take Cleveland, Seattle, and the New York Jets out of the running, all three will 100% not land Peyton Manning, or even be interested. 

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