So with the lead up to the Superbowl everyone has been talking about what will happen in Indy. No, not with who will win but what will happen to Manning, the better one. In the next month, the Colts are going to have to make a pretty tough decision on what to do with Peyton Manning. And whatever is decided is leaving a lot of teams salivating at potentially landing the future Hall of Famer. Lets break it down.
- Colts have the #1 pick this year and have already stated they are taking Andrew Luck.
- Manning is coming off his 1st season from his gi-normous contract that makes him richer than all of the people on this message board combined. A season spent on the injured list. Adding insult to injury, he is due a bonus payout of $28million in March. The Colts have an opt out clause that would make him a Free Agent, unrestricted and get them off the hook for that $28million.
So why does this matter? Like all NFL teams, they are a business. They are trying to put together a team to win the Superbowl, which sells tickets, merchandise etc.
Here is the dilemma and the options:
Option 1) Keep Manning, stay competitive next year and installing your next prospective legacy QB. Luck will learn from Manning (even better) and continue your dominance in a division that up until this year hasn't had much competition (Yes, the Texans are on the rise).
Option 2) Keep Manning and trade him to the highest bidder and use your draft picks to rebuild.
Option 3) Release Manning, save $28 million, build your team around draft picks and the boatload of cash you suddenly have on the books.
Now, if you are a devote Colts fan the options are pretty clear. Option 1 is the only imaginable one. Manning revitalized the Colts. If healthy, he is debate-ably the best skilled QB in the league (Rodgers this season has made a case). Spend the money and keep this franchise relevant and dominant for the next decade. This would be the best way to be competitive for the forseeable future because as we have seen, even with a defunct defense and mediocre/sometimes slightly above mediocre running game, Manning alone makes your team playoff competitive assuming you have a competent coach who is smart enough to let Manning do what he does or has the offensive mind to beat out teams.
Now, from the business perspective and as a third person looking in, I can see why releasing Manning or
trading him would be enticing. $28 million alone is good to sign 4-5 quality younger veteran players who can
improve areas that need improving. And as we saw with the Colts last year, there are a LOT of positions that need
improving. Trading I think would be less beneficial just because they would still be on the hook for the bonus.
There is a lot more that can be mentioned but for simplicity I am going to say how this affects the 49ers.
Should the 49ers make a play for Manning? As far fetched as that sounds. Manning with Harbaugh's QB minded strategy and the arsenal weapons at their disposal and the #1 defense in the league from last year. It boggles the mind of the of potential. However, it would require doing some shady and screwd business or would it?
Alex Smith, in my opinion, has earned a chance back next year based on improvement and potential on having a full off season to work with Harbaugh and staff. That is the fair thing to do. But the NFL isn't about being polite and fair (beyond conduct rules). If the goal is to win, and Peyton Manning is available and gives your team the best chance to win the superbowl next year, do you pull the trigger? The 49ers organization is NOT bound to Alex Smith, at least not technically. Alex Smith is a Unrestricted Free Agent. His one year contract is done. He has come forward and said he wants to be back next year. But do the 49ers want him back if they can land someone like Manning? The 49ers owe it to Alex Smith, but creating the best team to win isn't about what you owe to players. Its about putting the team first and building the best team to compete.
Knowing the type of organization the 49ers are, this isn't even a remote possibility, it is too proud of an organization to backhand Alex Smith like that. But still on the 0.000001% chance it could happen, it doesn't hurt to talk about it. Larry Fitzgerald and others are looking at that possibility, Fitz even going so far to try and recruit Manning to come to Arizona to play. So that is the other side of the coin, if the 49ers don't act on it, a rival team could. Someone say like the Seahawks and/or Cardinals. Pair Manning with Fitzgerald seems like a thing you could only do in a Madden game but the reality of it is scary. Manning teamed with Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and a decent Defense also seems threatening. So I will ask, if you were Trent Baalke, do you make a play for Manning if he is available and healthy? In doing so, that automatically makes Alex Smith gone since im sure he wouldn't want to be a backup. If they got both of them that would be ideal but unlikely. Kaepernick would also feel slighted by that.
Should the 49ers make a play for Manning, assuming he is healthy? Can you see Manning in red and white and finishing his career as a 49er?