Hello, Patch community. Although sadly there wasn't much Packers content to write about after the divisional round, we have a full offseason to look forward to. Before we get into speculation about the NFL Draft, or players to dream about in free agency, I wanted to address one of the most talked-about issues in the league: What will become of Peyton Manning?
The consensus among pundits and bloggers is that, due to the Colts' expected selection of Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick and Manning's $35 million salary in 2012, Manning will be released and free to seek a new team. Expected destinations have included Miami, San Francisco, the New York Jets and Washington, among many others. (My personal favorite, just as a football fan, is Arizona; with Manning throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, they'd break Randy Moss's single-season touchdown record.) The thinking is that Manning would make even a mediocre club an instant playoff contender. However, there are three good reasons not to anoint Manning a savior just yet.
1. The Neck. Peyton Manning apparently can't throw to the left, and his passes lack velocity. A NFL team would be nuts to sign Manning before the nerves in his neck have fully regenerated, which might not happen before the start of the 2012 season (or never).
2. The Age, and The Cash. These two are interconnected, so I'm listing them together. Manning is 35, and the Colts just last year gave him one of the richest contracts in NFL, rivalling the one Tom Brady also recently got. Any of Manning's suitors would likely have to give him a four- or five-year deal, and although any front-office executive worth his salt would heavily front-load the deal, both age and price would be serious issues for any NFL team.
3. The Cultural Change. This hasn't really been explored in most media, but the fact is, Manning is a unique quarterback. His incredible memory for detail and ability to make complicated checks at the line make him smarter than most offensive coordinators, and consequentially, the entire Indianapolis offense was based around him. It's quite possible that no other quarterback could run this offense; Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky certainly couldn't.
So although Manning would almost certainly be able to master a new offense faster than other quarterbacks would, there would also be inevitable friction with the offensive coaches, coordinator and head coach. The working relationship between the coaches and players is something that fans tend to take for granted, but it's not hard to imagine it affecting Manning's, and his new team's, fortunes. It could even lead to an early exit from the new city if the relationship sours enough.