Could Peyton Manning wind up with the New York Jets next season? (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Peyton Manning ending up as quarterback of the New York Jets for the 2012 NFL season is, admittedly, an unlikely scenario. Considering all of the developments of the past couple of days with the Jets and Manning's current employer, the Indianapolis Colts, the possibility is worthy of discussion.
Consider what is happening with the Jets right now. Gang Green just finished a disappointing 8-8 season, failing to make the playoffs. Santonio Holmes is unhappy, players are flipping off reporters, coach Rex Ryan is crying and acting like he doesn't know what is going on with his team (and maybe he doesn't), and talk radio voices saying they hear the Jets are not only unhappy with the play of quarterback Mark Sanchez, but possibly also with the three-year veteran's work ethic. There are probably a lot of players, and you know plenty of fans, rooting for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to get the Jacksonville head-coaching job he is interviewing for, as well.
In short, the Jets are a mess. The bragging and the swagger have been replaced by bawling and brawling amongst themselves.
Now, consider the situation the Colts are in. Owner Jim Irsay just stunningly fired highly-respected long-time general manager Bill Polian. There is some speculation that the move has more to do with wanting to remove Polian's son, Chris, from the power structure than anything else. Could there, however, also be a disagreement over what do with the Manning, who will be 36 next season?
The future Hall of Famer said he was "surprised, shocked, disappointed" by the ouster of Polian.
"It's a sad day and it's the worst part about this business. I'm sorry that it went down this way. I always thought Bill and I might retire around the same time. You kind of hoped for that fairytale ending, after winning a Super Bowl."
The Colts, of course, have the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by virtue of having gone 2-14 without Manning this season. It would be a monumental upset if the Colts use that pick on anyone other than Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, looked at by talent evaluators as a certain star in the NFL.
So, what then becomes of Manning? Sure, the Colts could do what the Packers did with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, letting Rodgers caddy for the veteran superstar for a few seasons. Then again, right now the Colts are acting as if they are not sure Manning will play in 2012. He has had three neck surgeries, so that would be a valid concern.
"I've always said that, first and foremost, it's a medical situation, a health situation," Irsay said during a news conference Monday. "Is it safe for him to go on the field? Is it something that he's healthy enough to resume his career?
"That to me has always been the most important decision. That's something we're continuing to see where we're at."
Even if he can play, do the Colts really want to tie up so much of their money in two franchise quarterbacks? Would it not make sense to move Manning someplace for multiple draft picks to try and re-stock a franchise that has sprung leaks all over its roster? I mean, you don't get to 2-14 just by losing a quarterback, albeit a historically great one.
Gary Myers of the New York Daily News speculated about the possibility of Manning coming to the Jets as early as a few weeks ago. If the Colts were to move Manning, and some observers believe there is no way that would happen, tyhe Jets are an excellent landing spot. Myers put it this way, and it's an excellent argument:
[Rex] Ryan idolizes Manning and holds him in higher regard than he does Tom Brady. GM Mike Tannenbaum is extremely aggressive. And Manning, who will turn 36 in March, will surely want his next stop to be with a Super Bowl contender. The Jets are much closer to winning it all than the Redskins, Seahawks, Dolphins, Browns, Chiefs, Broncos or Cardinals, who could all also use a quarterback upgrade.
The Jets organization already has shown support for Sanchez in public comments, and you can be sure Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum will continue to do so. If the Jets are serious about winning that Super Bowl Ryan always talks about, though, it would be foolish for them not to at least gauge what it might take to convince the Colts to make New York a two-Manning town.
Then maybe we could have a real argument about who is the Big Brother and who is the Little Brother.