The Manning Conundrum

Indianapolis may field one of the most interesting offseasons in recent history.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

As we enter the 13th week of an NFL season that just seems to get more fascinating with each game played, it's safe to say that the Indianapolis Colts have secured the first pick of next years draft. With games left against New England, Baltimore, Houston, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, it's only a matter of can they avoid a winless season as opposed to where in the drafting order they will fall. With this reality settling in, and with all signs pointing to the drafting of potential franchise QB Andrew Luck with that first pick, the biggest question facing this organization becomes what to do with Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning, SuperBowl winner and 4 times NFL MVP, is easily the greatest player in Indianapolis franchise history and before this mess with his neck, it would have been inconceivable for anyone but Manning to be under center come the start of next season. But sometimes life interferes with plans and the unexpected becomes reality, which is where the Colts find themselves at this point.

The reality of the situation it this. At 35 years old and coming off of a year lost due to injury, you don't know what Manning you will be getting once he returns. Granted, the greatest thing that makes Peyton the QB he is is his mind, but injury often begets injury once you reach a certain point in your career and the threat of further missed time is a strong possibility. So, with a chance to draft a potential replacement in one of the most highly regarded QB's to ever come out of college in Andrew Luck, The Colts have no choice but to draft him.

But where does that leave Peyton in the grand scheme of things?

In reality, there are three possible roads that lie ahead for Peyton Manning and the Colts. The first road would be for him to retire (and according to sources, he is contemplating that choice). It would be a sad end for a future Hall of Fame QB but he could get into announcing sooner, which is where he will end up.

Next up would be for the Colts to do the unthinkable and trade him for a stockpile of picks that could be used to build a team around Luck. This choice makes the most sense from an organizational standpoint. Though they would be criticized heavily by fans and the media, the potential of a quick rebuilding process might be too tempting to pass up.

The final, and perhaps the harshest for Manning, would be to stay in Indy and start 1 more season before handing the reigns to Luck. I say that this is the harshest because of the impact that Manning has had on this Colts franchise. He has taken hold of them and pulled them out of the pits of mediocrity. The fall of this team is a fitting testament to his importance. It would be sad to know that he would be only keeping a seat warm for his replacement.

The waters of Manning's future are still pretty murky, though they should clear up a bit this week as he is scheduled to have his neck evaluated, potentially allowing him to resume practicing, but one thing is for certain. We may never see the likes of a quarterback like Peyton Manning again. He brought a total command to the game that is unmatched in the annuls of NFL history.

For that, and for every intangible he brought each week, I hope this situation resolves itself to the best possible outcome.