Peyton Manning Vs. Andrew Luck: A Critical Decision for the Indianapolis Colts

by on December 30th, 2013
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There has been much speculation recently about the potential for the Indianapolis Colts to acquire Andrew Luck in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. The Colts, presumably, will have the number one overall pick in the draft. Andrew Luck is the “Can’t Miss QB of the Decade.” The only problem for the Colts is that they already have one of those guys. Maybe you’ve heard of him, his name is Peyton Manning.

Each week it becomes more likely that the Colts will be the team with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. That leaves the management with a franchise altering choice to make: select Andrew Luck and begin to rebuild around him, or stick with arguably the most valuable QB ever to put on the pads (although after this year you could almost take out the arguably). Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay would have us believe there is a third options; keeping both of the QBs. I don’t agree, and neither does Archie Manning, Peyton’s father. The elder Manning has pointed out that Luck is ready to play right now. Although Peyton is nearing the end of his career, five more seasons from #18 isn’t out of the question. That’s quite a bit of time for Luck to presumably watch and learn from Peyton.

There is one more huge factor to account for in this conundrum, and that is Peyton Manning’s health. He has only recently been cleared to expand his training sessions. At this point in time, it is unclear when, or even if, Manning will play again. The Colts are obligated to pay Manning a $28 million roster bonus in March, prior to the draft. That last bit hurts. The Colts have to tip their hand before the draft. Common sense dictates you wouldn’t give some $28 million unless you were going to use him. So by simply keeping Manning, the Colts make a massive financial commitment to him. If the Colts have already spent that much to keep Manning, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to draft another QB and pay that guy too. What would the Colts have left to pay the rest of the team? It would be crazy to devote that much of your payroll to two guys at the same position, right? That is why this fan thinks Jim Irsay is tweeting about keeping Manning on the team and drafting Luck; he wants us to think he is crazy enough to do it.

Let me explain a little more. We’ve all seen what Peyton can do and how much he means to the Colts entire team. There is no debate there. The only question with Peyton is his health. With Peyton’s competitive desire, if it is possible to return to greatness, he will, and this surgery has had documented success in professional athletes. Peyton returning to greatness is a gamble but it is about as safe as it gets and the reward is five more years of MVP performance. If the Colts were inclined to part ways with Manning, they would find it difficult. Due to his health and contract, Peyton Manning is virtually untradeable. No one wants the situation the Colts have, so no one is going to trade into it. The Colts due have the option to release Manning prior to paying him the roster bonus in March, prior to the draft. The thought of releasing Manning may be unpalatable for the Colts because he would be free to sign with any team in the league. The Colts would get nothing in return for one of the league’s best players and he could sign with a division or conference rival? Facing one of the all-time greats that you just released would be a nightmare scenario for the Colts..

In contrast to the untradeable Manning, the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft has enormous trade value. Luck, the is the “Can’t Miss QB of the Decade,” will be available and ever since the new CBA, the rookie wage scale makes signing No. 1 picks a predictable and affordable situation for teams. All the scouts believe Luck is the highest rated player since John Elway and he has a 15 year career ahead of him. If Carson Palmer is worth two first round picks, what is Luck worth? I don’t know the answer but I think it is fair to assume it would be multiple picks players. That amount of compensation would allow the Colts to quickly reload for another championship run.

The whole plan depends on the other teams believing that the Colts are willing to draft Luck. If teams believe the Colts will draft Luck, any team wanting Luck will have to trade with the Colts. The Colts could essentially name their price. If teams believe that the Colts will stay with Manning and pass on Luck, it opens up the team with the No. 2 pick to be a potential trade partner and the Colts may or may not be the team that is traded with and probably would not receive as much in return for the pick. Irsay is trying to create some trade leverage for his team so they can get the most for their pick. I think its brilliant. Maybe Luck will be great, but we know Peyton is great when he gets healthy.

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