With the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the NFL's lockout situation, players' contracts and relationships with teams are in jeopardy.
The tense battle between owners and players has led to an unstable future, as far as free agents are concerned.
Because of this uncertainty, as well as his role in the players' suit against the owners, Peyton Manning's future has been questioned.
Manning has always been known as a Colt, and can hardly be pictured wearing anything but blue and white. He's said numerous times that he wants to retire as a Colt, and the front office has reiterated that same fact time and time again.
But will Manning retire as a Colt? Or will he end up somewhere else when his career ends?
First, it is important to note that if Manning is going to end his career somewhere other than Indianapolis, than he most likely will have to sign with that team during this offseason.
Bill Polian and Jim Irsay have repeatedly stated their intentions to sign Manning to a "long term" deal, likely ranging anywhere from four to six years long. This would likely be Manning's last contract, as he would be about 40 when the contract ended.
Therefore, if another team wants Manning to retire in different colors, they would need to snatch him during the 2011 offseason, assuming that there is a new collective bargaining agreement.
So what are the odds of that happening? I'd say pretty low, considering both Manning and the Colts' personal wishes to have Manning stay in Indianapolis. As I argued here earlier this month, it would be in the best interest of both Manning and the team if he were to be resigned.
Now, if Manning did happen to sign with another team, it would need to be one that Manning could win immediately with. The only reason Manning would leave Indianapolis is if the team he signed with gave him a better chance at championships.
The situation would require several things: money to sign him, his type of weapons on offense (smart, hardworking players), a solid defense, and coaches willing to give him a large amount of control.
That all being said, I find it pretty unlikely that Manning will find—if he even looks for—a team that fits those qualities.
The best prediction of where Manning will end his career is, always has been, and likely always will be: Indianapolis. Peyton Manning will be remembered as a Colt, wearing lue and White with No. 18 on his chest.
That's just the way it is supposed to be.