10 Most Likely Destinations for Peyton Manning in 2012
With two games to go, the Indianapolis Colts are 1-13 and on the brink of their worst season in franchise history.
It's a foregone conclusion that the Colts are on the fast track for the first pick in next year's draft. Although general manager Bill Polian could select someone other than Stanford's Andrew Luck, the chances of that happening are smaller than Kerry Collins' quarterback rating.
Manning and Luck on the same team? Can it really happen?
Manning's father, Archie, made comments on FOX Radio saying, "I don't think it'd necessarily be great for either one. I think Andrew's the type of mature player...he can walk right in."
That would seem to suggest that if the hapless Colts select Luck, there's a good possibility that Manning would be sent elsewhere.
10. Kansas City Chiefs
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Matt Cassel has likely played his last game as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, and the team will be looking to address their quarterback situation this offseason.
But will it be through free agency or the draft?
With six wins (and not likely another one to come this season), Kansas City will most likely draft somewhere between 12th and 15th in the first round—not the best of places to find a franchise quarterback.
The team showed they have a defense that can compete with the best teams in the NFL, slowing down Aaron Rodgers & Company and becoming the first club all year to beat the Green Bay Packers.
An offense is also in place to be one of the best in the league. Jamaal Charles will be back to carry the workload next season, with Jackie Battle and Dexter McCluster providing more-than-capable third-down running back options. The wide receivers, led by Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin, are on par with what Manning had in Indianapolis at the end of his career.
If Manning were to go to Kansas City, he'd have a better defense, a better running game and wide receivers that would only flourish with an All-Pro quarterback throwing to them.
9. New York Jets
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I remember the Jets overpaying for an over-the-hill quarterback in the last few years, but I can't remember who. Anyone care to help me on this one?
Bottom line—Mark Sanchez is underperforming, and the Jets have a track record with this sort of thing.
8. Baltimore Ravens
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If we assume that quarterback Joe Flacco fails to get his Ravens into the Super Bowl after what will be his fourth straight trip to the playoffs, I think head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome will be looking at free agency for the final piece to their championship puzzle.
Baltimore can't waste another year of superstar Ray Rice's career. With one of the best offensive lines in the league, wide receivers like Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and a defense that is allowing less than 17 points per game, they need a signal-caller like Manning.
If Flacco doesn't get the team to the Super Bowl, this possibility moves up a few spots.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
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I know I might sound crazy to some, but I do not believe that Michael Vick's skill set fits the philosophy of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Andy Reid, as the Eagles’ head coach, has had a philosophy to pass early, gain a big lead, and then have smallish, fast pass-rushers put pressure on the quarterback and seal the victory. That isn't happening with Vick. He's not a dominant enough passer in the pocket.
If Philadelphia is going to compete with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in the NFC, then they might as well bring in Manning, who could give the Eagles a fighting chance.
6. Dallas Cowboys
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Even though Tony Romo is clearly cemented as the Cowboys' starter this year, if Dallas fails to make the playoffs, owner Jerry Jones has shown he's the kind of person who would panic and sign a high-priced quarterback off the street.
Jones runs the Cowboys organization with his heart, not his head, and his knee-jerk reactions have consistently been a roadblock to Dallas bringing home an NFL championship.
I can see it happening if the Giants win the NFC East. Can you?
5. San Francisco 49ers
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San Francisco is a team on the rise, and they have clinched the NFC West for the first time in nearly a decade without the help of a superstar quarterback.
With Jim Harbaugh as coach, that young offensive line ascending, a defense that has been absolutely dominating and the NFC West on the schedule for six games (i.e., wins) a year, the 49ers can pick up Manning and be on the fast track to the playoffs for at least the next three years.
4. Indianapolis Colts
The winless Colts are on the fast track to get Luck—that's no secret.
What could possibly happen is that the Colts would follow the Favre-Rodgers rule, sit their new quarterback behind a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback and let him learn at the pace that's best for him.
It worked for Rodgers. Why not Luck?
3. Washington Redskins
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A 35-year-old quarterback with a bad neck? When doesn’t Daniel Snyder go after guys like this?
Sounds like a perfect fit for the Washington Redskins organization!
2. New Orleans Saints
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The New Orleans Saints are still a ways away from extending the contract of Drew Brees, who is playing in the final year of a six-year, $60 million deal.
If the Saints can't get anything done, it might be incredibly tempting for Manning to spend his remaining years with his family in Louisiana, leading a team that plays in a dome with great wide receivers, an above running game and a competent defense.
I think even more than returning to the Colts or going to the Saints, Manning won't ever play another down of football.
If Andrew Luck goes to the Colts, he's starting right away, and Manning won't be anyone's backup.
If the Saints figure out Brees' contract extension, there'd be no need for New Orleans to bring him in.