After fourteen years as the face of the franchise, Peyton Manning is set to be released by the Indianapolis Colts after owner Jim Irsay made the decision to part ways. This decision comes as the team would be forced to pay Manning a $28 million bonus if he isn’t released within the next week or so.
Obviously, the fact that the Colts can select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick come the NFL Draft played a major part in this decision, but the amount of money owed to Manning could have crippled the Colts’ free agent options that pertain to other positions that are more urgent needs at this time.
Now, seeing that Manning is a free agent, the search for a new landing spot begins. Obvious spots could be San Francisco, Arizona, Miami, Washington, and Cleveland, where quarterback problems have seriously hindered the development of those franchises. The addition of a Manning to replace an Alex Smith or Rex Grossman could seriously improve the chances of those teams, seeing the productivity of their defenses.
But what about coming to Philadelphia? The chances might be slim, but they’re there.
First we have to consider whether Manning is even an upgrade over the Eagles’ current quarterback, Michael Vick. With both coming off injury-riddled seasons, it is tough to gauge the productivity of both. Manning, in his career, throwing for 12 4000+ seasons and 399 touchdowns while posting a 94.9 career passer rating. Vick, on the other hand, has only posted a career 80.9 passer rating and thrown for 111 touchdowns.
Only last season, Vick only posted a 84.9 rating in only 13 games, throwing for 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while also fumbling 3 times. Not overly impressive for a guy being paid almost $16 million [with bonus] every season.
Even with Manning’s neck injury, the latest reports seem to indicate that his recovery is back on track, which means that the Eagles could possibly acquire the greatest regular-season QB. So, there. He’d be an upgrade.
Second, we have to be pragmatic and make sure this deal is plausible.
Michael Vick’s contract structure allows the Eagles to cut ties with him after the 2011-2012 season, so it seems bad luck that Peyton Manning would be released at this time. However, the Eagles could cut ties with him now and only lose his $12.5 million base salary – it is guaranteed - and pick up Manning. Unfortunately, that $12.5 million would seriously hurt the Eagles cap space and probably mean they wouldn’t have enough money to pay Peyton.
The Eagles could possibly trade Vick, but his trade value might be at a low point at the moment due to last season’s instability. However, it is still not out of the question; the aforementioned teams looking for quarterbacks could be willing to make a move to acquire Vick, especially because his contract would be lighter than that of Peyton, and could give up a nice piece in return. Since the Eagles are looking for help at the safety position, a move to acquire strong safety LaRon Landry from the Redskins is not out of the question. That is just one of the moves Philadelphia could make that would free up space for Manning and perhaps plug another hole. There are certainly others out there.
If I were Howie Roseman, I’d certainly explore the Landry trade, or even one that could possibly bring one of the 49ers linebackers to Philadelphia. Having Peyton Manning would certainly make this offense more efficient and possibly change the fortunes of a team devoid of a Super Bowl championship. The guy’s a winner.