By Josh Katzowitz
Now that Jim Caldwell has been fired as the Colts head coach, what does that say about what will happen to the face of the franchise for the past 15 years?
Well, it’s probably not great news for those who would love to see Peyton Manning back at the helm of the Colts offense.
As we came to understand this year, Caldwell’s job absolutely depended on Manning playing* – though you have to wonder if Caldwell had gotten more out of his team like, say, a 4-12 season instead of a 2-14 record, maybe Irsay would have kept him – and without that safety net, he was exposed as something less than stellar.
*You know how so many people joked (or maybe they weren’t joking) early this season that Manning should be the league MVP this season because of how different Indianapolis was without him? On that same note, you could make the claim that Manning has done the most damage of anybody in the Colts organization. I mean, look at how many people have been fired because Manning didn’t play this season, including a potential Hall of Fame executive in Bill Polian.**
**Obviously, I’m joking (or maybe I’m not).
But now that Caldwell is gone, along with Bill and Chris Polian, will the Colts decide to bring back Manning for another season and pay his gargantuan salary to do so? Or, will Indianapolis completely begin to reconstruct the franchise without him?
We already know what Manning prefers. His father Archie Manning said Sunday that, “Peyton kind of likes his roots in Indy. … We’ll see what happens there. If that doesn’t work and he can get healthy we’ll see. That’ll all work out. He’s just trying to get healthy.”
While new general manager Ryan Grigson said today that he and the ownership haven’t discussed Manning or who their future quarterback might be -- though that claim seems rather dubious, right? -- here are four reasons why the Colts might decide they’re better off without one of the best NFL quarterbacks in history.
New guys who have no loyalty to Manning: Irsay believes Manning is like family. Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell did, as well. But Grigson won’t feel that way, and most likely, neither will the new coach. Because, well, why should they? And why should they be loyal to Manning? The answer: they shouldn’t, and if Irsay is cleaning house in his organization, he has to know that letting go of Manning might be the next logical move. And if he wasn’t OK with that, he probably shouldn't have fired everybody.
Drafting Luck: Although Irsay claims no decision has been made about whether the Colts will take Andrew Luck with the top pick in next year’s draft, there have been reports that Irsay will do exactly that. And really, how can he not? If the scouts are right and Luck is truly one of the best quarterbacks to emerge from college since Manning, how could Indianapolis not take him? Especially since Manning, at best, has only a few years left in his career, and Luck, if he’s anywhere close to Manning’s talent level, could be running that team for the next 15 years.
Huge money due: Manning originally was due a $28 million bonus on March 8, and though it’s been reported that the Colts want to work out an extension with Manning so they could postpone the decision (considering Manning seems to be amenable with the Colts and wants what’s best for his team, I imagine that will be OK), they can’t push the decision that far down the road.
And that’s really at the crux of the issue. The Colts need to know if Manning can play and play well. Manning can’t give them an answer. With a new direction for the front office, how much are the Colts really going to risk trying to ride Manning to the playoffs for the next few years? The answer: they very well could decide they won’t. And honestly, maybe they shouldn’t.
It's a new world in Indianapolis, and there simply might not be enough room for Manning in it.
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