Peyton Manning: Risk or Reward?

TIM LOLContributor IIIMarch 16, 2012

Peyton's health is still a mystery.
Peyton's health is still a mystery.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Think Peyton Manning can help your team win the Super Bowl? You should probably reconsider this.

It’s been almost a week since Peyton Manning was released from the Indianapolis Colts, and fans everywhere are going crazy about the possibility that No. 18 might be starting behind center for their team next fall. Quarterback-needy teams like Cleveland, Seattle, Miami and Arizona have been in the middle of the soap opera since day one. Other teams that have showed interest include Kansas City, Tennessee, Denver and the Jets. As time moves on, it appears that the Titans and the Broncos are the two remaining possibilities.

Peyton Manning will turn 36 years old later this month. He is no long-term solution, only a Band-Aid to any team with an underlying problem at quarterback. Sure, signing Manning means signing a future Hall of Famer. If your team picks up Peyton Manning at quarterback, we can be (almost) sure of three things:

Your team will win games (Peyton is 141-67 in the regular season).

Your offense will be changing (Peyton wants to feel comfortable).

Peyton will turn other offensive players into stars (i.e. Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark).

All of that sounds mouthwatering, right? It’s too good to be true. Not many people focus on the negatives when something with a big reward like this is on the table.

If you have been checking the news every possible second for any update on Peyton’s status with your team, you might not want to read this. Reality can become a disaster when it's backed up with the facts. Remember that in the end anything could happen, but here are some ideas to ponder the next time you search “Peyton Manning to ___________” on Google.


1. Peyton’s Health

Before the 2011 season, Peyton Manning had not missed a single game in his first 13 years. Injury caused him to sit out every game last year. That’s a full season gone out the window for a player with so little playing time left.

Also, the idea of a healthy Peyton is irresistible to most. But what if he can only play at 80 percent? What about 50 percent? In a sport of such brutality, how much longer can an aging man last who has already had multiple neck surgeries? What happens if he gets re-injured his first season back?


2. Peyton’s Playoff Performance

Manning will win games, period. Until the postseason comes around. Out of 13 years as the starting quarterback, Manning has gone to the playoffs 11 times. That alone is impressive. Things start to mellow out from here, as Manning is only 9-10 in playoff games and is the only quarterback in history to go one-and-done in seven different postseasons.

Yes, Manning did lead the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2006. The trophy sure looked nice, but his stats that postseason were nothing to brag about. He threw only three touchdowns countered by eight interceptions. That was in four playoff games.


3. Peyton’s Familiarity

Peyton Manning has played for some excellent coaches in his career. All of them have let Manning grab the reigns of the offense and mold it into something that he can consistently work with. He has also played under the same offensive coordinator every single season, Tom Moore.

Any team who picks up Manning needs to have some flexibility on the offense. Throwing Manning on the field to run something he is uncomfortable with is going to create friction.

Lastly, Manning has played at least eight games a season in a dome. Obviously, weather is not a problem in this kind of environment. Manning’s stats are significantly worse when he plays outdoors, especially in the rain.

Peyton Manning might just be the best player in the history of football to ever hit free agency. He sure has the capability to turn a 6-10 team into a playoff contender. If he’s available, why pass? A short-term fix can help sometimes—especially to teams who have nothing going for them.

Odds are Manning would be a great acquisition to your team this offseason. Just make sure you are thinking over things a little more carefully before you bet your friend that he’ll win the Super Bowl.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject…

Peyton Manning’s Predicted Destination: Denver