Not since the days of Reggie White‘s transition from the Philadelphia Eagles into free agency, and finally to the Green Bay Packers, has a free agent created more hype and hysteria than Peyton Manning — the former four-time NFL MVP.
Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts yesterday after a 13-year career where he revitalized the struggling franchise and even brought home a Lombardi Trophy after the 2006 season.
It seems he threw for a gazillion yards and a gazillion touchdowns in those thirteen years, and without a doubt his legacy as a Colt will live on in the hearts and minds of the hoards of horseshoe fans that cheered him on for well over a decade.
Of course Manning is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game — his prepartion next to none — and his other wordly accuracy and arm strength only seem to validate these claims.
However four neck surgeries over the last two years nearly robbed him of his football career, caused him to miss the entire 2011 season, and ultimately forced the Colts to release him in a tearful good-bye.
Manning’s time as a Colt is over, and now it’s on to the next chapter of his career.
Where will he play? How long can he play? Will be ready to start the 2012 NFL season? Just how healthy is he? How strong is his arm?
All valid questions that need answers for any team looking to sign him.
But the questions seem a mere formality, and if the leaked footage of Manning throwing recently at Duke University is any indication, it appears that arm is coming along just fine.
Several teams have emerged as suitors for Manning — Dolphins, Jets, Seahawks, Broncos, Cardinals, and Redskins — are among the most notable to have contacted Manning’s camp thus far.
But it looks like one of these teams will no longer be in Manning sweepstakes, and that’s the Washington Redskins.
Although Redskins owner Dan Snyder is notorious for opening the check book and pulling out all the stops when it comes to signing free agent targets, it appears Manning has shut the door on playing for the recent NFC East bottom dwellers.
Little brother Eli of course plays for the Superbowl champion New York Giants in the same division, but there is also a stacked Eagles team headed by Michael Vick and the always dangerous Dallas Cowboys to consider.
Peyton obviously doesn’t want to go up against his brother twice a season, nor is he a fan of eliminating him from post season play or perhaps even another championship win.
Eli certainly would not want to do the same to Peyton — that’s not what the Manning’s want.
Peyton would also like to finish out his career in a warm environment, or even better with a dome team, and wants nothing to do with a cold outdoor venue such as FedEx Field.
Miami is quickly becoming the trendy choice to land Manning.
He’s there right now, because he owns a home in the area, and the Dolphins have some key pieces in consideration to their o-line, running backs, and of course the beastly Brandon Marshall.
Manning and his camp have come right out and said they expect to make a decision within a week.
Peyton is ready to latch on with a team, and the teams that are interested in him are surely ready to latch on as well.