Amassing more than 50,000 yards, 399 touchdowns and an impressive QB rating of 94.7 over his career, Peyton Manning has proved to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. In his 14 seasons in the NFL, Manning has confirmed to be the franchise quarterback that coaches, owners and fans all desire.
At the end of the 2010 season, Manning had his third neck surgery that prohibited him from playing in the 2011 season. The Indianapolis Colts suffered drastically due to poor quarterback play, resulting in eight fewer wins, and a drop from first place to fourth place in the AFC South from the previous season.
It is clear Manning’s inability to play this season caused the Colts to lose the majority of these games.
The Colts only had two wins this season. Some say this is a blessing in disguise as they have finished first in the “Suck for Luck” campaign, giving them the rights to draft Stanford’s Andrew Luck with the first overall selection this April. Therefore, the Colts exchange one franchise quarterback for another. However, this presents a problem.
As it stands, Manning is planning on returning to play next season as a Colt or for another team.
Due to his contract, Peyton Manning is owed $28 million by March 3. If the Colts draft Luck and keep Manning on their team, they will have to pay him and Luck with the first overall contract salary as well. Due to the rookie wage scale, this contract will be very similar to Cam Newton’s contract signed last year worth four years and $22 million.
The Colts will not be able to designate this much salary cap to one position on the team without taking hits to other positions this offseason. This means they will most likely let Manning enter free agency because they are already locked in getting Luck. Also, due to his contract, it will be impossible to trade him by the March 3 deadline.
The Washington Redskins are in a similar situation as the Colts. They too have a major decision to make regarding the quarterback position.
For the Redskins, getting a franchise quarterback this offseason will be a priority. But that is only one of the many needs they need to fill. As I wrote in my last article (found here), the Redskins have many needs outside of quarterback such as the need for a true No. 1 wide receiver, a right tackle, a guard and depth in multiple positions in the secondary in order to be successful.
Currently, the majority of mock drafts, talks on radio shows and other popular sports media sites have the Redskins trading up in the draft to land Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. Although he is a phenomenal athlete, a hard-working and determined football player and an excellent student, the price to move up from sixth to second overall will be very expensive.
Reports are already saying a minimum of two first-round draft picks and multiple other picks over the next two years will be required to pay the St. Louis Rams to move up. This is really expensive to pay for a player that has never taken an NFL snap. Also, as it stands, the Redskins are simply not one quarterback away from being a playoff-contending team.
My suggestion is the Redskins do not trade up for Griffin. Instead, sign Manning to a three- or four-year deal to secure the quarterback position right now, and then use this draft and free agency to fill all of the other positions of need.
If Washington did not trade up to land the Baylor standout,it could trade down, similarly to how the Cleveland Browns traded down with the Atlanta Falcons in last year’s draft to land multiple later-round and future-round draft picks.
With all of these extra selections, the Redskins would have no trouble in rebuilding their offensive line, getting a star wide receiver and even improving the secondary while receiving a considerable amount of ammunition for the following year’s draft as well.
If they played with Manning this season and rebuilt all of the needed positions through the draft and through free agency, the Redskins would be very competitive next season.
Additionally, the following year’s draft possesses the most talented quarterback class in NFL history with Matt Barkley (USC), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Tyler Bray (Tennessee), Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) all eligible to declare next year. All of these players are unbelievable athletes that could sit behind Manning and learn from him for a few years before starting in the NFL, which is very similar to when the Packers selected Aaron Rodgers to sit behind Brett Favre for three years before starting himself.
I think many would agree Rodgers would never be the same quarterback that he is right now without sitting behind Favre and learning from the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff for three seasons if he were forced to start as a rookie.
Even if the Redskins decided they did not want to wait another season to draft a future quarterback, Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) and Nick Foles (Arizona) are both considered to be project players that fit Mike Shanahan’s offense and both would do much better if they sat behind the future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for a few seasons.
Some of the main arguments against this proposal would be to cite his age, his injury history, and the Redskins' history of signing big-name free agents that failed (see: Albert Haynesworth). These are all logical arguments and I could not agree with them more.
But first, my counterargument to these points is that with using this draft and free agency, Washington could rebuild its entire offensive line and bring in a talented wide receiver to complement Manning. Some are even suggesting signing both Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne to ease the transition period from the Colts offense to the Redskins offense.
As for the injury concerns, the Redskins would only sign him if he was 100 percent healthy and ready to play by opening day anyways, so it would be pointless to argue they should not sign him for that very reason.
A final point to my argument is that the Redskins will most likely sign Rex Grossman to another one-year contract to have him compete for the starting quarterback position. The Redskins will probably bring in another veteran quarterback to compete with him for the starting position this year to give whichever rookie drafted the time to adjust to the NFL.
This begs the following question: Why not bring in Peyton Manning to compete against Rex Grossman for the starting quarterback position?
As most would agree, even if Manning does not play to the same level he once played for the Colts, 75 percent of Peyton Manning is still better than the majority of the quarterbacks in this league and 100 percent better than Rex Grossman.
Due to the many needs the Redskins have to address this offseason, signing Manning would be a wise decision that makes sense now and in the future over trading up for Robert Griffin III. Also, imagine seeing the Manning brothers compete against each other twice a year for the next couple of years for the division championship. This would make this rivalry even better than it is today.
Let me know what you think, and I thank you in advance for your comments.