Peyton Manning is a company man, a team player, and an all around likable guy, so why would he even think about not renewing his contract? For starters, let’s look at leadership. For seven years straight, the Indianapolis Colts were led by Tony Dungy and for seven years straight, they went to the playoffs every year.
Last season, Jim Caldwell took over after Dungy retired and the Colts were on the verge of completing a perfect 16-0 regular season. That is until week 14 when Caldwell decided it was best to sit his starters in preparation for the postseason. In spite of the loss, Manning the consummate company man said that he backed the coach’s decision. But that loss had to burn and when the Colts lost the super bowl, surely Manning had at least one question about Caldwell.
In this case of leadership, Jim Caldwell isn’t the only person Peyton Manning is thinking about. Of course he has to be thinking about his contract which would mean Bill Polian is on his mind too. The same Polian that calls an 18 game season “a fait accompli.” Considering the workhorse that Manning is already, how happy can he be about that same effort for 2 more regular games? So it would only stand to reason that the ill chosen words of his team president would also factor into any potential unrest he may have.
Of course 2-2 is only a setback in an NFL season of 16 games, but what is running through your mind when you’re the best asset your team has and you know your team wins with your arm? Three times this season, Manning has attempted over 40 passes and two of those occasions were games Indianapolis lost. In the first 3 games, Peyton threw 3 TD’s and in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville, he still managed 2 TD’s. So the losses are not for the lack of a superhuman effort on his part.
Some of you hear the word parity thrown around every other week by the NFL media, but you might have never thought of how much a free agent Peyton Manning would change the game. First, Indianapolis would go from a perennial playoff contender to a team resembling the Cleveland Browns (no offense Browns fans).
This season, the Colts are 27th in rushing averaging 3.2 yards a carry. They’re 25th in total defense allowing their opponents 367 yards of offense and an average of 23 points a game.
Allow me to put that into perspective…the St. Louis defense only allows an average of 13 points a game. If Indianapolis lost Peyton, not only would they stay at the bottom of the AFC South heap, but Houston would largely be considered the heir to the Colts’ former throne of the division champ.
Thinking about a free agent Peyton Manning yet? Where would he go? We could easily rule out teams that have a franchise QB which takes care of New England, NYG, Dallas, Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Diego, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. We can also rule out any AFC South team, and any team that doesn’t have the salary cap space for Peyton (this includes big spending NYJ).
This does leave speculation for teams like Arizona who already have the offensive weapons in place for Peyton, and teams like San Francisco, Miami and Minnesota all have a serious running threat which only takes the hero load off Manning’s shoulders.
So yes, Indianapolis still holds the rights to Peyton Manning, but by not doing anything to address their hideous problems on defense, special teams, and by not having a serious rushing offense, they’re doing everything possible to make Peyton Manning the NFL’s most dangerous free agent.