March 6, 2012
Colts, Manning divorce official
By BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The greatest partnership since Batman saved Gotham City is over; Peyton Manning is leaving the City of Indianapolis.
After 14 seasons as a member of the Colts, the quarterback and club owner, Jim Irsay, will announce his departure at a Wednesday press conference.
Irsay’s decision not to pay a $28 million bonus or pick up the final four years on Manning’s contract makes the quarterback the most sought after free agent on the market.
The four-time MVP missed the entire 2011 season after having his third neck surgery in 19 months but he has been medically cleared to play and reports indicate his arm strength is returning.
Until last season, Manning started every game of a 12-year stretch where the Colts won 10-plus games 11 times, a model of consistency unsurpassed in league history. He may only have one ring, but Manning has a career winning percentage that is fifth all-time. His team’s won 12 or more games an NFL-record seven consecutive seasons.
Speculation regarding his next team has already begun. Wherever he ends up, he brings a club instant credibility.
In Arizona he would be a big upgrade on Kevin Kolb. Cardinals quarterbacks completed 55.8% of passes in 2011 and Manning has never completed less than 62% since his rookie season. Put him in a Cardinals’ uniform and suddenly the 49ers no longer look unbeatable in the west.
Hall of Fame receiver, Jerry Rice, is already lobbying for the 49ers to take a run at Manning, although head coach Jim Harbaugh has been persistent in telling the media he wants to re-sign Alex Smith. But that was before the announcement the Colts and Manning actually were parting ways.
He would make Seattle and Miami division title contenders and both are expected to show interest. But the most intriguing landing spot would be the Jets. Neither Rex Ryan nor GM Mike Tannenbaum would discount the idea during the Combines. It would be a media circus but playing in the same city as brother, Eli, might just prove too intriguing for Peyton to pass up. Besides Tom Moore is already there. He has been the only offensive coordinator in Manning’s career.
Perhaps Peyton will not be far behind? Perhaps Manning can breathe life into Ryan’s promise of a Jets’ Super Bowl.
Manning took the Colts to the playoffs 11 times, captured seven AFC South titles in eight years, won two AFC championships, one Super Bowl title and a Super Bowl MVP Award.
Peyton Manning at quarterback won’t guarantee a city a Super Bowl, but it does guarantee a team a chance of getting to a Super Bowl.