In one of the most bizarre stories ever seen in the NFL, a present day legend seems more than likely to hit the curb like yesterday’s garbage. But, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Peyton Manning has been the face of the Colts franchise since being drafted in 1998. In that time, he helped lead the Colts to two Superbowls and more than 10 division titles.
This past off-season, Peyton opted to have a fourth surgery on his neck that made him sit out the entire 2011 season.
This is where things get interesting.
Without Manning, the Colts finished the season with a record of 2-14, the worst in the NFL. Some questioned whether Manning should earn Most Valuable Player of the year due to the drastic change in the franchise without him.
Meanwhile, the Colts earned the number one pick in the draft for the first time since they drafted Manning in ’98. Ironically, there is a quarterback out of Stanford who experts say is the most pro-ready quarterback since, well, Peyton Manning.
So the Colts are expected to take Andrew Luck, the Stanford quarterback with the number one pick. But what to do with Manning, who is supposed to make a hefty bonus this offseason?
Many believe the Colts will give the keys to Luck and sever ties with the man who gave them the Lombardi trophy just a few short years ago.
If this is the case, where will the future Hall of Famer land?
Here are the top five most likely destinations for #18.
5. Washington Redskins: For years Washington has lacked a franchise quarterback. And for years, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been raiding the free agent market looking for answers to his team’s struggles. He is not afraid to spend the big money on big names, such as Albert Haynesworth and Donavan McNabb.
Manning is more of a sure thing than both of them combined. Plus, with Manning, head coach Mike Shanahan would be able to create an explosive offense that he has always been hoping to re-create like what he had in Denver with John Elway.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Like all of these teams, Seattle needs a true, solid answer at quarterback.
If Seattle can re-sign running back Marshawn Lynch, then the pieces around Manning are in place, even more so if free agent Reggie Wayne is looking to follow his quarterback wherever he goes. The Seahawks would then have Wayne and receiver Sidney Rice on the outside, setting them up to have a solid run and pass game.
In a weak division, the Seahawks could be set-up to make a run into the playoffs for years to come.
3. New York Jets: New York is on the cusp of getting to the Super Bowl.
They have made it to the AFC championship game two of the past three years. They have made it, often times in spite of their erratic quarterback of the future Mark Sanchez.
With a great defense, and defensive minded head coach in Rex Ryan, the offense could be left in the hands of Manning, as it has been in Indy for so many years. The Jets have a strong running game and talented wide receivers. It might just take a proven quarterback to keep the Jets relevant in New York next to Manning’s younger brother Eli and the Giants.
2. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are looking to make a drastic improvement fast. The team proved that they can win. They won six of their last nine games at the end of last season. They have one of the best wide outs in the league in Brandon Marshall. Their defense is one of the most underrated in all the league, and they play tough against every team, finishing ninth in total points allowed.
The city knows that if they had a quarterback like Manning, the sky would be the limit for their franchise. Miami has a history in bringing in the big free agents in all sports. Remember LeBron James joining the Miami Heat a few short summers ago?
In hopes of increasing their odds, the city has put up a web site Manning to Miami.com as well as a huge billboard by the highway that displays Manning in the Dolphin uniform.
Manning owns property in Miami, and the move would not be that big of a stretch for him and his family. The warm weather would be beneficial to the quarterback who is used to playing in a dome and perfect conditions. The pieces could all be there for Manning to Miami and Dolphins to the playoffs.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Imagine the possibilities.
If you ever wanted to see the greatest show on turf revisited, push for Manning to join the Cards.
There, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time would join one of the greatest wide receivers of all time in Larry Fitzgerald. The two would lead a passing attack never before seen in the NFL, again, especially if Reggie Wayne joins the team with Manning.
The offensive line is solid, giving Manning protection and time to find those receivers.
The defense is solid, giving Manning an opportunity to see the field.
The running game is solid, giving the opportunity to relieve pressure off Manning.
And the Cardinals play in a dome, giving Manning familiar conditions to play in week after week.
Again, joining one of the weakest divisions in all of football, Manning would make the Arizona Cardinals instant favorites to bring the Lombardi to the desert.