Talk about solidifying your position as the consensus top prospect in the 2012 NFL draft. This is exactly what Andrew Luck did last weekend at the combine in Indianapolis.
If there was any question as to whom the Indianapolis Colts were going to select with the first overall selection in April, it was answered by Luck.
The former Stanford signal-caller did everything he was supposed to and more, putting up great numbers in the generic drills. He ran a 40-yard dash comparable to Cam Newton last season, outdid running backs in the broad jump and receivers in the vertical jump. Despite making the decision not to throw, Luck came out of the combine in Indianapolis in better shape than when he entered it, if that was at all possible.
It is now a near certainty that the Colts are going to select Luck No. 1 overall in April. In fact, it is highly likely they will come to terms on a contract within the next couple weeks.
What does this mean for Peyton Manning?
The greatest quarterback in the history of the Indianapolis Colts franchise will find himself looking for a new team within the next month. Andrew Luck's performance at the combine proves he is more than ready to start immediately. He isn't going to be a rookie that sits on the bench in order to learn the nuances of the next level. After all, Luck was already calling his plays at Stanford during his junior season in 2011.
The Colts are also in rebuilding mode, which became increasingly evident during a disastrous two-win 2011 season. The idea of holding onto the past while not contending doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense for this talent-stricken team.
In short, the Colts are not a winning team with Manning at quarterback. It is time for them to move on and begin anew.
Where does Peyton Manning go from here?
It isn't like Manning is going to be without suitors if he is healthy and prepared to play in 2012. As of right now there seem to be multiple teams vying for the services of the future Hall of Fame quarterback should he get his pink slip from the Colts.
You are probably looking at seven or eight teams that are going to be in the discussion for Manning. At this point, the Miami Dolphins appear the favorites to acquire him in free agency. They don't seem too far off from contention and need a stabilizing force at quarterback.
Other viable options include: Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
Either way, it has become pretty apparent that Manning will be playing the 2012 season outside of the state of Indianapolis. Luck's performance last weekend only makes this possibility seem more realistic at this point.
The NFL is a better league when individuals like Peyton Manning are successful, so I hope that he finds a destination that enables him to continue to build on one of the greatest legacies we have ever seen. There is nothing worst than watching washed-up players end their careers on a losing team. I just don't want to see Manning tarnish his legacy by playing for an average team, performing at a mediocre level. This isn't the last memories of the future Hall of Fame quarterback that I want to have in my head.
Expect Manning to find the best possible situation for success this offseason and to play in another city in 2012. I just hope he makes the right decision because at this point the Indianapolis Colts are clearly off the table.
If we learned one thing from the combine in Indianapolis last weekend, it is that Manning will never play in that stadium as a member of the home team again.
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