On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Colts released quarterback Peyton Manning, who sat out all of the 2011 season due to neck issues in what would've been his 14th season with the team. Naturally, the media speculation on which team will take a chance on him for 2012 has begun, but in all honesty, you can rule out a vast majority of teams because of the simple fact that they are already set up at QB and don't need any pre-season drama, especially with the draft next month.
To the surprise of no one, the New York Post splashed on the back page today that the Jets were already in contact with Manning's agent about a deal. Didn't they learn anything from signing Brett Favre 4 years ago? Didn't the Post and their media brethren learn anything from openly courting LeBron James on behalf of the Knicks two years ago? Apparently not.
To Manning's credit, he doesn't believe it's in his best interest to be playing in the same market as younger brother Eli, who now has 2 Super Bowl rings with the Giants. Local sportscaster Rodger Wyland, writing in the Albany Times-Union today, doesn't believe Manning will go to the Jets, either, and realistically, what would be the best place for Manning, anyway?
The only reason the Jets would take a serious risk on Manning is the fact that they may be giving up on Mark Sanchez after 3 seasons. However, the excessive, obsessive-compulsive media scrutiny in New York may be more of a detriment. Too many know-nothing gasbags on either side of the sports talk phone lines, most with uninformed opinions. You can cross off the Jets as a contender for Manning.
Recognizing that most teams already have stability at QB, there are very few options, some obvious, others not so. Let's consider:
Miami: Ownership doesn't want to take a backseat to the hyped-to-the-max Heat & Marlins too much longer. The downside is that the over-hype already hurt the Heat in the playoffs last year, and they could wilt again this summer. Manning would only be a short-term fix when a long-term answer is more likely.
Buffalo: The Bills could use a tourist attraction for their home-away-from-home game in Toronto. Enough said.
Tennessee: Manning played his college ball at Tennessee, so they're already beating the drums for a "homecoming". What would that make Matt Hasselbeck, signed as a free agent last year? Chopped liver? I don't think so. You also have a 2nd year QB in Jake Locker who's playing sponge, learning on the job.
Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert was thrust into the starting job last year after the Jags foolishly let David Garrard walk. The Jags have new ownership and a new coach, but do they want to go all the way with a clean slate?
San Francisco: Alex Smith finally came of age in his 7th season, leading the Niners to a division title, but they were KOd in the playoffs by the Giants. Jim Harbaugh, remember, was the veteran QB that was phased out in Indy for Manning many moons ago.
Seattle: Tavaris Jackson & Charlie Whitehurst weren't exactly the answers last year, even though the Seahawks did beat the Giants at the Meadowlands. The 'Hawks would gain instant cred if they can lure Manning out west.
Minnesota: Christian Ponder & Joe Webb could use a mentor after Donovan McNabb was future endeavored before the end of last season.
Personally, I don't think Manning should take a chance on playing. What if he injures his neck again so soon upon returning? Look, I get that he wants one more ring, but no matter where he goes, there are going to be some hard feelings somewhere. I say, take another year off, make sure the neck is 100%, as well as the nerves that go with it, then start shopping for a comeback. The last thing that needs to happen is another Hall of Fame-bound QB ending his career in disgrace, like Favre. Of course, if they're casting for a remake of Gomer Pyle, USMC, Manning would be a perfect fit.......