Caldwell canned by the Colts. Could his exit open the door for Manning’s?
The horrific collapse of the once proud football dynasty in Indianapolis now has another casualty.
In a move that has been rumored since the team first began to trend downward, the Colts have fired Coach Jim Caldwell after three seasons. Caldwell’s tenure in Indy included a 26-22 record, two division titles and one trip to the Super Bowl.
His exit (one of the first moves by new General Manager Ryan Grigson), plus the firings of Bill and Chris Polian, could also lead to the departure of the team’s iconic Quarterback Peyton Manning.
This runs contrary to statements by several people. Team owner Jim Irsay says that he will never trade Manning and if he is healthy he will be the starting quarterback next season. Rumored draft pick Andrew Luck says that he would be okay with serving as backup to Manning. Even Peyton himself says his number one preference would be to stay in Indy, and that he can co-exist with the highly-touted Luck.
Those things considered, having both players may be a possibility for the Colts. Luck would learn under one of the greatest of all time, enabling him to develop and to maximize his potential. Manning would provide a great mentor, a more than capable starter, could finish his career with the only franchise that he has ever known and could transfer seamlessly into an offensive coordinator position in a few years.
Manning could also remain with the team if they decide to trade Luck(which I believe is the best option). The absence of Manning this season exposed several glaring holes in the Colts. Aside from perhaps Tight End, I believe virtually every position needs to be addressed. Trading Luck would enable the team to obtain several key assets in their quest for a fast rebuild, instead of yielding one. The fact that Matt Barkley and Landry Jones have both opted to remain in school means that the team can wait another year and still find a more than capable successor.
That being said, sources believe a trade of Luck to be unlikely. The uncertainty of Manning’s health, the uncommon pedigree of Luck and a new regime’s desire to put their stamp on the team all points to the drafting and retention of the Stanford Quarterback. It could also spell the end for Manning. The ushering in of a new era could undoubtedly begin with the departure of the face of the old era. Having both Manning and Luck could create a quarterback controversy similar to what we saw in Green Bay with Favre and Rodgers or what we saw in Denver twice (first Plummer and Cutler, then Orton and Tebow). This, coupled with the fact that Manning is due an eight-figure bonus in march, could lead to the Colts severing ties.
Trading Manning would be the preference as it could yield assets in return, but the large bonus and his uncertain health could make this difficult. Releasing him may be the only option if they don’t want to cut that hefty check. If healthy, look for the Jets and Redskins to emerge as the top contenders for his services.
Both New York and Washington are very intriguing destinations, and both would benefit from the acquisition.
The Jets are also in need of a partial rebuild after a disappointing season, but they aren’t that far from contention. They have already smartly removed their offensive coordinator and their usually stellar defense should rebound from a very disappointing year. The could also use some help in establishing a power run game. This leaves one key component to their rebuild: replace their entire receiving core. The team’s receivers are selfish, dramatic and most importantly, a cancer in the locker room. Their exodus is really the only way for the team to effectively move forward. That being said, they do make a point: Sanchez is not the answer under center. His arm strength and decision making are marginal, and I don’t believe he has the capability to ever be an elite quarterback. With Manning under center and the drafting of a top-end receiver (maybe Floyd from Notre Dame) could be all it takes to propel the Jets to the Super Bowl in 2013. It would also be intriguing for the Manning brothers to share a building.
In Washington, all the pieces seem to be in place for a solid team, save for under center. Rex Grossman and John Beck will never be the answer, Manning could be all the team needs to contend. Their defense and running game are solid. Their receivers are young and full of potential. Finally, coach Mike Shanahan would represent the perfect man to pair Manning with. Peyton would excel in his offense, and all Shanahan seemingly needs to get back to the big dance is another Elway. Plus, having Peyton and Eli in the same division would make for some great football, and hopefully settle the once indisputable dispute of which Manning is best.
Personally, I would take a healthy Peyton over Eli. Eli Manning may have the better arm, and his play in the clutch in unquestioned. But Peyton Manning may be the smartest player to have ever played the game. He is truly a field-general. Now all that remains to be seen is which team he will lead into battle next season.
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