I understand that he's played his whole career there and that he's a loyal guy, but why would a soon-to-be 36-year-old QB want to play out his remaining years on a talent-starved team on the verge going 0-16 for only the second time in league history?
It has been debated ad nauseam what Indy will do if and when the Colts secure the No. 1 pick in April's draft. But, why isn't anyone questioning what the guy central to the whole dilemma will want?
Assuming he is healthy and can return to action, Peyton probably has no more than two or three years of good football in him; so, again I ask: Why would he want to spend those two or three years on a team that couldn't win a single game without him?
Wouldn't he rather be the final piece to a championship puzzle than a 6-10 puzzle?
Wouldn't he want to go to team that already has talent in place and is just a QB short of competing for a Super Bowl?
It should be painfully obvious that what is in the best interest of the Colts, at this juncture, is to rebuild. They lack playmakers on both sides of the ball and are not simply a QB—be it a 36-year-old veteran or a 22-year-old rookie—away from competing for a championship.
Manning can either spend his remaining football years helping the Colts develop the young players they draft, or he can leave that up to the people who are actually paid to do the job—the Colts' front office and coaching staff.
It isn't his job to tutor anyone—it's his job to win football games; something that may no longer be possible in Indianapolis for the remainder of Manning's career.
As apparent as it is that the Colts need to rebuild, it should be just as obvious that Peyton needs—and deserves—to move on.
He's done everything the franchise could ever have ever hoped, and more, so it's time for them to do right by him.
Peyton may never ask for his release or demand a trade, but the Colts' front office should realize that it's in the best interest of both parties to go their separate ways.
The Colts could trade Manning by picking up the $28 million roster bonus he is due in March of 2012 and send him to a team of their choosing for draft picks; possibly similar to the haul Cincinnati secured for Carson Palmer this season.
They also could decline to pay him the bonus, thus making him a free agent. That choice belongs to the Colts alone, as they must do what is in the best interest of their team from a business stand-point.
Should Peyton be made available—be it as a free agent or via trade—one team that would seem to make more sense than any other is the New York Jets.
Just as Colts' fans have been forced to accept that the team needs to rebuild, Jets' fans seem to have universally realized that Mark Sanchez isn't the long-term answer for the team at QB.
Sanchez appears to have taken them as far as his talent can, and as the team sits at 5-5, on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff landscape. The team may decide to explore alternatives under center in the offseason; something Jets' fans would surely welcome.
The Jets already boast a ready-made offense with a solid group of receivers and an above-average rushing attack.
Their defense should also be able to take some of the pressure off Manning as he tries to work himself back into playing shape; an opportunity he wouldn't be afforded if he were to remain in Indianapolis.
Richard Bach once said, "If you love something, set it free." Colts' fans love-affair with their QB has spanned more than a dozen years, but even they seem to have concluded that it's in their best interest to move on. It wouldn't be storybook, but if the team and Peyton are a little selfish, and do what is in their best interest, this story can still have a happy ending.