Did the Colts Make the Right Call Choosing Andrew Luck over Peyton Manning?

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Did the Colts Make the Right Call Choosing Andrew Luck over Peyton Manning?
Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

There was already no shortage of subplots surrounding Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis this week with the Denver Broncos.

Then Jim Irsay gave an interview to Jarrett Bell of USA Today that was the NFL equivalent of whacking a hornet's nest with a baseball bat about 14 times.

Now, the Internet is abuzz with discussion of two signal-callers (Andrew Luck and Manning) who will forever be linked.

Granted, Irsay chose his words very poorly when speaking with Bell. Whether intentional or not, his comments came across as a shot at his former quarterback.

The timing was even worse. Stirring up this firestorm heading into an important game against an undefeated Broncos team is just dumb. You just don't pop off at the mouth and provide the opponent with bulletin board material like this.

However, Irsay's big yapper doesn't change the fact that the Colts made the right call by letting Manning go.

At first glance, the present situation leans heavily towards Manning.

Manning vs. Luck 2013
Player Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TD INT Rating
Manning 178 240 74.2 2179 22 2 128.8
Luck 115 186 61.8 1346 7 3 89.6

Through six games

How is that surprising, though? We're talking about a second-year pro at the helm of a ball-control, power-running offense compared to a four-time NFL MVP at the helm of an offense in which he's his own offensive coordinator.

Yes, Adam Gase is technically the offensive coordinator in Denver, but I'm pretty sure the only calls he makes are for pizza during meetings.

Comparing Manning to Luck straight-up is something only a fool would do:

Okay then. Moving on.

Also, many people seem to have conveniently forgotten that when the Colts made their choice, there was no guarantee that Manning would ever be as effective as he was prior to 2011.

We're talking about a player who missed the entire 2011 season after no fewer than four neck surgeries. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported in January of 2012 that sources close to Manning feared he would never play again.

It's fantastic to see Manning back doing what he does as well as he ever has, but at the time there was no way of knowing that would happen.

Sure, Luck may not have been a sure thing either. But, he was almost universally considered the most NFL-ready, can't-miss quarterback prospect to enter the NFL in years.

Then there's the small matter of compensation.

Manning vs. Luck
Player Contract Length Annual Salary Total Amount
Manning 5 years $19,200,000 $96,000,000
Luck 4 years $5,527,000 $22,107,998

Contract data per Spotrac

Andrew Luck's annual salary is slightly lower than the amount you can find in Manning's couch cushions on any given day, and Manning's contract with the Broncos is less than what he was making in Indianapolis.

At the time of Manning's release, he was set to receive a $28 million roster bonus.

Now, let's look at some players for the Colts whose salaries are paid by the difference in salary between Luck and Manning.

Recent Colts Signings
Position Player Annual Salary
LT Gosder Cherilus $6,900,000
SS Laron Landry $6,000,000

Salary data per Spotrac

That's a Pro Bowl defensive back and an upgrade protecting Luck's blind side, with a few hundred thousand in change left over.

Manning's injury wasn't the only reason that the Colts went 2-14 in 2011. His absence shined a very bright light on all the deficiencies on the Colts roster that Manning's presence covered up.

Irsay tweeted Wednesday that was the point he was trying to make while seeing how far into his mouth his loafers would fit with Bell:

Andrew Luck may well never come close to sniffing the success Peyton Manning has enjoyed on a football field. That's an awfully high bar to set, considering that the argument can be made that Manning is the greatest quarterback ever to play the game.

However, Luck is a 24-year-old young man who has already justified the pick used to draft him. He's certainly a good enough quarterback to lead the Colts to a Super Bowl, and his potential for greatness is undeniable.

Meanwhile, Luck's cap-friendly rookie deal has allowed the Colts to improve the supporting cast around him on both sides of the ball.

The quarterback may not be as good—at least not yet—but the team is better.

That may not be much solace while a ticked-off Manning is carving up the Colts for 400 passing yards and four touchdowns on Sunday.

It doesn't mean the Colts didn't make the right call.

Now please, be quiet until Monday, Jim. You aren't helping.

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