Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts have hit a fork in the road and are expected to go separate directions March 7. Reports today stated the Colts are going to release Manning Wednesday in what should be a very emotional press conference.
Peyton Manning won't play for the Indianapolis Colts again...
The writing - in the form of a $28 million bonus due to Manning - has been on the wall for quite some time. You knew this day was coming whether you wanted to believe it or not.
A month ago, I had significant doubts of Manning ever being healthy enough to play again and thought retirement was a very, very strong option. That fear has lessened based around recent reports of his velocity improving. With improved health and throwing, there will not be a shortage of teams lining up to court Manning, who missed all of last season while recovering from several neck surgeries.
I'm not a doctor, and I won't pretend to be one on the 'net today, but I have a hard time believing he is completely out of the woods or close to 100 percent yet.
Teams likely interested in Peyton Manning
Miami Dolphins - We have heard of the love interest the Dolphins have for Manning and now they'll get their chance to show it financially. Definitely in need of a quarterback, Manning should receive a full-court press from the Dolphins as they try to convince him Florida is a nice place to close out his career. I think Miami still has a sour taste in their mouth passing on Drew Brees several years ago due to health concerns; something tells me they won't be nearly as cautious when it comes to clearing Manning medically.
Washington Redskins - It seems like the Redskins are in the market for a quarterback every year ... this year is no different. The Redskins have the cap space to afford him, but they would need to put some more weapons around him and help shore up the offensive line to make sure he is well protected. Last week on Big Lead Sports on SirusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (airs Monday through Friday on Sirius 210/XM 87 at 10 p.m. ET), the Indianapolis Star's Phillip B. Wilson joined Cory Bonini and myself and said he didn't think Manning would want to play against his brother Eli, quarterback for the New York Giants, twice a year. Food for thought....
Arizona Cardinals - Will the Cardinals try to catch lightning in a bottle with yet another elderly quarterback? It worked well when Kurt Warner came to town and I cannot believe the Cards are sold on the likes of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
San Francisco 49ers - Here is my dark horse candidate. I know the team wants to re-sign Alex Smith after he led them to the NFC Championship last year. However, we have to be realistic, too: Smith has a very low ceiling and only one successful season in the NFL. The 49ers are built to win now. Peyton Manning needs to win now. This could be a very interesting pair to tie together.
Seattle Seahawks - When your starting quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson, you have to be strongly considered as a team that will flirt with Manning on the open market. Seattle has tried to make an impact since bringing Pete Carroll on board, and not much would put all eyes on Seattle more than a Manning signing.
New York Jets - Could the Jets make a strong push for Manning? An upgrade at quarterback and running back would put the Jets back in Super Bowl conversation. We've seen the drama floating around quarterback Mark Sanchez since last year, and Manning would be an immediate improvement at the position.
Denver Broncos - Sure Tim Tebow was the talk of the 2011 NFL season, but he's no Peyton. The Broncos aren't really that bad overall; they have some weapons to work with in the passing game and it would allow Tebow some time to sit, watch and learn behind one of the league's greatest of all time.
Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs have some interesting options to work with offensively and just franchised receiver Dwayne Bowe. If Jamaal Charles (knee) and Tony Moeaki (knee) can return to full-speed quickly, the one missing piece on offense for the Chiefs will be a reliable quarterback. Will Manning be that guy?
Whichever team brings Manning on board is going to have to be smart about it, as there is definitely risk involved.
Lets not forget Manning will be 36 years old later this month. He is no spring chicken, and he just missed an entire year due to his neck issues. Even if he was 100 percent healthy, there is no guarantee we'd see the same Manning we have become far too accustomed to seeing.
This situation will be interesting to watch play out in the coming days and weeks, as it will have significant ramifications on whichever team he calls home in 2012.
Don't forget to stalk me on Twitter at @ryanbonini and join KFFL Wednesday and Thursday each week from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210/XM 87).
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
Don't miss these great reports....