NFL Trade Speculation: Should the Cleveland Browns Pursue Peyton Manning?

Brian MurtaughAnalyst INovember 22, 2011

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 30:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts signals a play at the line of scrimmage behind center during their NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on November 30, 2008 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Colts defeated the Browns 10-6.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to ever step foot inside an NFL stadium. His career passing numbers top the charts in nearly every statistical category, and he has continuously been a staple of the postseason for the past decade.

However, the Indianapolis Colts are in a very intriguing position this year after losing Manning for the entire season and losing every game they have played to date.

If the Colts continue this trend for the final stretch of the season, they will be in prime position to select their quarterback of the future in the 2012 NFL draft. Now, that might mean that Manning could become expendable by the team and that the Colts would at least be willing to listen to offers for the former Super Bowl champion.

Cleveland holds a very powerful position in the 2012 NFL draft as they bring two first-round selections to the table.

The Browns will likely have both selections toward the middle of the first round and could hold leverage in any type of trade negotiations. But, are the Browns desperate enough to spend their high picks on a quarterback when Colt McCoy is slowly emerging as the face of the franchise?

The numbers are staggeringly overwhelming when looking at Manning's success compared to how the Browns have fared since he was drafted. Manning has won 141 games throughout his career, while the Browns have only won 68 since 1999.

In addition, Manning has thrown 399 touchdown passes throughout his 208 games, while the Browns' franchise record-holder, Otto Graham, only posted a total of 174 throughout his 126-game career.

Manning will be coming off a very significant neck injury when he finally returns to football either later this year or in 2012. That may seem like enough risk to not take a chance on trading for him during the 2011-12 offseason.

However, the fact that Manning has missed the entire 2011 season and his questionable health could lead Indianapolis to accept slightly less than what he is really worth in trade negotiations.

It is obvious that the Browns need offensive help during the 2012 NFL draft and that the quarterback position is not the the biggest problem on the offensive unit. But it is worthy to note that the Colts of 2011 are winless without Manning while posting a 10-6 record with him in 2010.

Clearly, this type of trade would have to jump through many hoops in order for it to ever happen. Manning's current deal does not allow the Colts to trade him without either restructuring his contract or releasing him outright.

In addition, the teams would have to agree on terms, Manning would have to agree to go to Cleveland, the Browns would have to pay him (they aren't very good at that) and he would have to be healthy.

For now, the Peyton Manning to Cleveland trade is just speculation and a distant view on what could be a long-shot deal after the 2011 season is finally complete.

The Browns have not had a quarterback with the type of talent that Manning brings to the table in their entire history, and it is exciting to believe that Cleveland may one day employ a quarterback that can not only lead them to a winning record, but to playoff and Super Bowl appearances in the future.