NFL Free Agency: Should the Browns Consider Signing Peyton Manning?

Kevin DakddukContributor IIIMarch 7, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 04: NFL player Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts attends DIRECTV's Sixth Annual Celebrity Beach Bowl Game at Victory Field on February 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for DirecTV)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

With all the talk of NFL free agency and the possibility of the Browns vying for Robert Griffin III in the NFL draft, perhaps the Browns should look into snagging Peyton Manning, as ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports the Colts are set to release the future Hall of Fame quarterback. The Browns salary cap this offseason has been estimated to be over $20 million.

Peyton Manning is of course a Super Bowl champion and has almost 400 touchdowns and 54,828 yards to his credit in his career. He also boasts an overall 64.9 percent completion rate. Let's not forget his rushing stats. During his 13-year run with the Colts, Peyton racked up 722 yards for 17 touchdowns and 73 first downs. His downside has been minimal with 17 fumbles and 198 interceptions. During the 2010 season, Peyton put up 33 touchdowns for 4,700 yards passing.   

As impressive as those stats are, should the Browns really take a chance on Peyton? He is getting older of course. The Jets tried to nab an aging quarterback back in 2008 by signing Brett Favre, which didn't exactly work out well for them. Brett Favre was 39 when he played with the New York Jets and Peyton is currently 36 years old. Favre may have been older, but he was not coming off of what could have a been a career-ending injury and subsequent surgery.  

The big question seems to be whether or not Peyton will have full nerve regeneration in his neck and throwing arm. Will he still be a force in the NFL? Only time will tell. The acquisition of Manning would create much publicity and intrigue in Cleveland, and carries with it the possibility of attracting other quality athletes to a city that has had its share of sports-related anguish in the past.  

Also, how much good would an elite quarterback like Peyton Manning be able to do with the Browns' offensive line? I know Colt McCoy is not the greatest quarterback option, but it would have been interesting to see what he could have done with more solid protection from his offensive line and perhaps a few better receivers.

With that being said, could Manning help the Browns get past teams like the Ravens and Steelers, who have a stranglehold on the AFC North? Keep in mind, the last time the Colts won the Super Bowl was in 2007.   

Another question is whether or not the Browns could even afford Peyton. Given the fact that Peyton was due to be paid close to $90 million over the next five years with the Colts, I doubt the Browns can pull together enough capital.

How much money and resources is the struggling franchise willing to put into the aging quarterback? And who would you rather have at the helm in Cleveland in the coming years? Peyton Manning, RG3, Colt McCoy or perhaps another QB?