Jim Caldwell, for those who are unaware, was released of his coaching duties on Tuesday. This was the second big move in the Indianapolis Colts organization in 2012, as we saw both Bill and Chris Polian get the boot just one day after the end of the 2011 regular season.
But the big question that lingers is what does this mean for Peyton Manning? Now, more than ever, is time to start speculating where Peyton Manning will be suiting up in 2012.
The Redskins could be a potential suitor for No. 18. The Redskins play in a pretty competitive division (Giants, Cowboys, Eagles), and Peyton could be the factor that the Redskins need to bring them to the same level of play of their division rivals.
The Redskins have a decent receiving squad, and could only improve with Manning throwing to them. The fact that the Redskins currently have to choose between Rex Grossman and John Beck as their starting quarterback almost guarantees a last-place finish in the NFC East. The Redskins payroll has room to sign a larger contract such as Manning's, and could help them fill stadium seats.
Manning may go for Washington over a city such as New York, given that the New York media tears athletes apart at any given chance. With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III likely going early in the draft, the Redskins will have to settle for a lesser-received rookie quarterback, or make moves for a veteran quarterback.
Where will Peyton suit up in 2012?
Yes, the Cardinals recently did sign Kevin Kolb to a five-year contract, but only $20 million of that contract is guaranteed. But the Cardinals do play in the weakest division in the NFC, with the 49ers being the only standout. It may take adding Manning to their roster to bring them up enough to be a playoff contender.
They have arguably one of the best receivers in the league in Larry Fitzgerald, and Early Doucet is a decent WR2 option. If the Cardinals were to pick up Manning and take a good wide receiver early in the draft, they may have the firepower to compete with San Francisco in 2012.
Oh, and it wouldn't be the first time Arizona signed an aging quarterback to their roster with the potential for great success. Kurt Warner did bring them to a Super Bowl in 2008, and he also led the Cardinals to the playoffs in the final season of his career in 2009.
The Miami Dolphins can't seem to land a decent quarterback in the last few years. In the past five years, Miami has started seven different quarterbacks, resulting in a 32-48 Dolphins record in the same time frame (and only one playoff appearance). Something obviously needs to change in the Miami offense to allow them to contend with the Patriots and Jets in the AFC East.
The Dolphins have decent receiving threats in Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline, but they also have the dual rushing and receiving threat of Reggie Bush. Manning could just slip into the mix, and potentially bring the Dolphins into a playoffs in his first year as their quarterback.
It's also important to note that with Peyton's age, and the significance of the injuries and surgeries he has endured, the warmer weather could only benefit his performance.
The second NFC West team to make this list, the Seattle Seahawks seem to be stuck at just below .500 status in regular season play over the past few years. The Seahawks need a lot of work on their offense, as the only bright spot on the Seattle offense in 2010 was the unpredictable Marshawn Lynch.
Inserting Peyton at quarterback and signing some receivers (and drafting one or two) could finally turn the Seahawks back into the 2005 team that earned a trip to the Super Bowl. Seattle has one of the lowest salaries in the league, so they could have the financial ability to make some major offseason moves.
You can't count Manning out as an Indianapolis Colt in the 2012 season. Manning has spent his whole career in Indy, and he has one of the strongest fanbases in all of football. I think fans understand that Manning could leave, and that it could improve their team in the long haul. But, in all honesty, the departure of Manning would crush Colts fans.
If Manning is healthy for the 2012 season, it's hard to imagine Luck matching Manning's skill and play in his rookie season. But, with the money the Colts could open up in payroll by dropping Manning's contract, they could fix a number of issues that exist on the offense, defense and special teams. Jim Irsay hasn't really given many hints as to what his intentions are for Manning in the 2012 season, but with the status of the Colts organization and moves made this month, it is becoming more and more difficult picturing him in a Colts uniform in 2012.
This one is more of a joke rather than a serious option. The New York Jets have one of the highest payrolls in the league, and for some reason have blind faith in Mark Sanchez. While Sanchez has led the Jets to the AFC Championship in two out of the three previous seasons, his overall production and results in the regular season leave you with an uneasy feeling.
Jets fans, and many Jets players (most anonymous) have outwardly displayed their disappointment and lack of confidence in Sanchez, and watching the success of fellow New York quarterback Eli Manning only adds to this. It would be something else to have both Manning brothers in the New York area, an area known for being very sports-centric. Even Eli has joked around about the perks of having big bro Peyton in the city with him.
It's highly doubtful the Jets will land him, but if they do start Peyton Manning in the 2012 season, it will showcase the power that the New York fans and media hold over their team's organization.