To Trade Or Not To Trade: Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning.

One of the greatest Quarterbacks to ever play the game of Football. He is the face of the Colts, and perhaps the entire city of Indianapolis.

You can even make the argument that in the entire Sports world, that no one player is more important to their team than Peyton Manning.

So why on earth would I be writing this blog with a headline that consists of the words “Peyton Manning” and “Trade”? Those 2 words would have never gone together….until now.

Manning underwent surgery for his injured neck on May 23rd, 2011 to repair a bulging disk. After a slow-recovery, Manning then had another, more complex surgery on September 8th, 2011. A one-level cervical neck fusion was performed, which usually has a heal time of 2 to 3 months. Adding as well another prior surgery, that would equal 3 neck operations for Manning in a span of a year and a half. A neck fusion procedure is considered to me more of a “career-saver” than a “career-killer”, as it will most likely give Manning a few more productive, pain-free years to play the game. Until his recovery is complete, Manning will have to remain on the sidelines, which is a site Colts fans are unaccustomed to seeing.

The Colts have struggled (to say the least) without their leader Manning. In fact, the Colts haven’t won a game all season, and sit tied for the worst record in the NFL at 0-8. Backup (now starter) Curtis Painter has failed so far to hold down the fort and keep the Colts afloat, only completing 54.4% of his passes, throwing for 5 Touchdowns and 4 Interceptions, including 3 fumbles lost in 6 games. Not exactly the type of Quarterback play that is associated with the Colts organization.

For teams that are going down faster than the Titanic, like the Colts, being the worst team does have its advantages. Andrew Luck, a Quarterback out of the University of Stanford, is the consensus number #1 pick for the next NFL draft. He has led Stanford to an undefeated 8-0 record so far this year, while throwing for 8800 yards, 68 Touchdowns and only 16 Interceptions over his 3-year tenure for the Stanford Cardinals. Many experts have Luck pegged as the next great QB in the NFL, with the campaign “Suck For Luck” being used for many of the lower-tier teams in the league. There hasn’t been this much hype for a QB coming out of college since a young man out of the University of Tennessee named…well…Peyton Manning was drafted first overall. For a team like the Colts who are in the position they are in, having an elite level yet injured QB already on the roster in Manning, many wonder what the Colts would do if they actually did secure the number 1 pick.

All football fans care about is “What have you done for me lately?” That is just planted in the DNA of every hardcore football junkie. You could take your team to the playoffs, and you can win Super Bowls, but if you aren’t successful right now in the moment, then you are worth nothing. That’s the belly of the beast. Despite all of the winning the Colts have done over the last 10 or so years, the taste of this season will resonate much more. That is why many fans and experts have brought up the idea, that maybe it is indeed the time to at least consider trading the face of the franchise. Maybe it is time to trade Peyton Manning.

You can go 2 ways on this issue. You can take the side that believes that Peyton Manning can regain the form he once had when he returns from his neck injury. He has proven over the last few seasons that he can still put up league-topping QB numbers, and can carry the Colts offense by himself. Manning has made receivers out of Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and made great receivers like Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark look even better. He has led the Colts to countless Playoff appearances and a Super Bowl victory, and if healthy, he can do it again. Me on the other hand, I am going to take the other side of things.

Peyton Manning is 36 years old. He has had 3 neck surgeries in 19 months. He plays for a team that has been shown to the Football world as a complete joke when he isn’t behind Center.  As evident by his departure, the holes of the Colts have been exposed. They just aren’t that good a football team. The running game and defense have been shown as the frauds that they are, and need a heavy re-tooling to get back up to par. Nothing cures what ails you in the NFL more than draft picks, and that is what Manning can garner you at this point. If a guy like Carson Palmer can get a first-round draft pick, then I am sure a player with the stature of a Peyton Manning can get much, much more. I also realize that if the Colts wanted to rebuild the team, then trading away the number 1 pick (which to a majority of the league would still be Andrew Luck) could still get the Colts a numerous amount of picks.

There is also the scenario that the Colts do get the number 1 pick, draft Andrew Luck, but also keep Peyton Manning to be their starter. That plot has worked in the past for other franchises. Despite all of the drama surrounding the Green Bay Packers, they did make it work when having both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as their QB’s. The Packers kept Favre until they believed he couldn’t offer any more to the team. They eventually traded him away and made Rodgers the starter, a man who had 4 years of tutelage under the great Favre, which helped Aaron grow into the best QB in the NFL today. Why couldn’t that work for the Colts with Luck and Manning?

We may indeed see Peyton Manning on the field by the end of the season. He is believed to be completely healed weeks before the final game, which would allow him to get a couple of games in to see the progress on his neck. Personally, I believe that is a bad move, because all it would take is one bad hit, and Manning could be hurt again. For a season where nothing is truly at stake anymore besides getting the first draft pick, why put him out there? Is it for the fans who had to watch a Painter led-offense all year? Or is it to see if Manning can still be Manning?

At this point, I believe the time is now to blow up the Colts and start the re-building process. The Colts have never had a true successor to Manning ready to come in, but in this draft, they can get that player in Andrew Luck. Manning may have only a few semi-productive years left in him if the injury does affect his performance. Andrew Luck is the future, and even though he may never be as good as Manning, he can still turn out to be a solid NFL QB that can maintain the Colts winning attitude for years to come. He is a good enough player that sitting behind a guy like Manning for 4 years may not be the best situation for hum. Manning has never come off as a “mentor” type of player, and that may explain why the Colts have never really drafted the future QB for this franchise. The Colts are Manning’s team, and as long as he is around, it will always be about Peyton Manning. He has earned that right, but at the same time, he can’t be there forever.

Trade Peyton Manning. Get as much young talent and/or draft picks for him and use those to rebuild your team (most importantly, the Defense). Perhaps come the NFL Draft, the Colts can ring in a new era. The era of Luck.

What do you think? Do you believe the Indianapolis Colts should trade Peyton Manning and hold out for Andrew Luck? Or is it to soon to push the Panic Button on Manning?

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