Today marked the end of an era in Indianapolis as the Colts and owner Jim Irsay held an emotional press conference to officially announce the release of quarterback Peyton Manning, after 14 years with the team.
The move was an expected one, as the Colts came up on the deadline to pay Manning a $28 million dollar roster bonus that would have been due to him tomorrow, had the injured QB still been on the team’s roster. And with the status of Manning’s health uncertain, and the Colts holding the #1 pick in the upcoming draft – thereby ensuring that Andrew Luck could give them another franchise quarterback for the next 10+ years – it was the prudent business move by Irsay to turn the page on Manning. If he ends up coming back and leading a team to the Super Bowl, Irsay could end up looking like a fool, but given the information available right now, it’s really the only call he could make.
But that doesn’t make it any easier on any of the players involved, as evidenced by the genuine heartfelt emotion during today’s press conference. In it, Irsay announced that the Colts would retire Manning’s #18, and Peyton said that no matter where he ends up next, ”I’ll always be a Colt.” It was about as harmonious a divorce as you’ll see in today’s professional landscape, which is about what you’d expect from a Manning, and especially considering how mutually beneficial their relationship has always been.
And so now begins the Petyon Manning sweepstakes, which is all we’re going to hear about for the next few weeks. As he officially hits the free agent market, teams have already begun lining up to woo the 11x Pro Bowler to save their franchises. Teams like the Dolphins, Jets, Redskins and Cardinals have started building their best case to lure Manning to their cities, with others like the Broncos, Seahawks and 49ers hoping to emerge as dark horse candidates for Peyton’s services.
It should be fascinating to watch the bidding wars play out, especially considering it’s all for a 36-year-old with highly questionable health. I just hope there will be enough media coverage of the proceedings.
So far, the story of the 2012 NFL off-season is Colts QB Peyton Manning, and where he’s going to play next season. The back-and-forth between Manning and Colts’ owner Jim Irsay has reached a near-comical level of he said-she said, with Irsay saying on Thursday that they’re currently in negotiations with the veteran quarterback. But the general consensus seems to be that Irsay is just posturing for the media, and that Pey-Pey has likely played his last down as a Colt.
Vegas released updated odds today on where Manning will play in 2012, which place the Dolphins as the favorite to land Peyton at 2.5-to-1, barely edging out “Does Not Play” (currently getting 3-1 odds), for those who believe Peyton’s neck injury could force him into early retirement. The Redskins are next in what seems like a perfect Dan Snyder move, followed by the Colts and Cardinals at 5-1, and Jets at 6-1.
My gut says Peyton will end up in either Washington or Arizona … what do you think?
SEE THE COMPLETE PEYTON MANNING ODDS AFTER THE JUMP