When Peyton Manning underwent his neck surgery and missed this season there probably wasn’t a soul who thought that he might have thrown his final touchdown for the Colts. Yet the chances of that being the case grows exponentially with each passing day. Owner Jim Irsay’s shakedown from the ground up has spared nobody thus far, as GM Bill Polian, former head coach Jim Caldwell and 11 other members of the coaching staff have been let go in the wake of his reign. And after Manning essentially declared that with all the new upholstery, he was feeling like a stranger in his own home, Irsay struck right back.
“I have so much affection and appreciation for Peyton. I mean we’re family. We always will be and we are. He’s a politician. I mean look at, when it comes to being competitive, let’s just say on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, we’re both 11s, OK? So there’s been plenty of eggshells scattered around this building by him with his competitive desire to win.”
And though Peyton attempted to squash the beef, Jim Irsay’s actions more than words have clearly been showing what direction he wants to go. Instead of opting to pick up the pieces after their lost 2011 season, the owner has decided he wants start from scratch and cleaned house. The new head coach and GM, Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson, respectively, were chosen without consulting the Colts’ quarterback. Pagano, a defensive focused man from Baltimore who, in all likelihood will not have the same nurturing relationship with Manning as Jim Caldwell or Tony Dungy did before him.
March 8th is the day the quarterback due to cash in his $28 million bonus check, so action will definitely need to be taken beforehand. No doubt, Peyton won’t want to be traded and teams won’t want to absorb that $28 million that would come with a trade. Peyton will want to go to a contender – a team that did well in the playoffs this year or one that’s only one piece away from taking the next step. The Texans come to mind, to remain in the AFC South and stick it to his former team twice a year for the rest of his career, and additionally Baltimore and San Francisco also seem like viable destinations for the four time MVP. The last two especially look like viable destinations seeing as they’re just a quarterback away from a Super Bowl ring. Baltimore, though, might have renewed faith in Flacco after his performance against the Patriots. There are also teams like Washington, Miami and Arizona, who all have strong nuclei but are missing a key quarterback. And let’s not forget the Jets who are clearly losing patience with Mark Sanchez. When Peyton is released, he’ll have a choice of 15 or so teams and he’ll surely pick the one that fits him best.
No doubt it will be a shrewd move and business is business, but I think there’s a better way of treating the man who essentially was the entire franchise for the last decade and one of the city’s most recognizable face. If Irsay had balls, he’d tell his loyal quarterback exactly what he’s going to do and to prepare accordingly. All of these shenanigans only make the organization look bad and focus more unwanted attention on the team. Irsay looks like he’s trying to milk Manning as much as he can to sell season tickets, by making it appear that he’ll be a Colt next year. And when the date comes to pay #18, he’ll be mercilessly released, but out of the ashes, a new storyline will develop for the 2012 NFL season: Peyton Manning’s quest for revenge against his former team.