Indianapolis Colts: With or Without Peyton
Indianapolis Colts (1st overall pick)
Notable free agents: DE Robert Mathis, WR Reggie Wayne, WR Pierre Garcon, LB Philip Wheeler, C Jeff Saturday, G Ryan Diem
I would not want to be GM Jim Irsay right now. The decisions he makes in the next couple months will affect the Colts for the next decade. First and most importantly: Do you keep franchise QB Peyton Manning? Manning is owed $28 million dollars if he is on the roster on March 8. That’s a massive amount of cash for someone who is still rehabbing a neck injury over a year and a half after the injury happened. Plus, if they do bring him back, there is still no timetable for his return and he may not be able to return at all. I know Manning wants to play and he wants to stay in Indy. But $28 million is a huge price for a question mark, even if that question mark is the greatest player in Colts history (sorry Johnny Unitas fans). Irsay needs to shake his hand, give Manning a big ol’ man hug and say “Thank you.”
Then draft Luck and begin rebuilding. Why? They are a team that is getting old. Future Hall of Fame center Jeff Saturday may have another year or two of Pro Bowl play, but he’s aging. Do you really want Luck learning to gel with someone who is one or two years from retirement? The veteran presence would help, but Luck seems to be poised enough as it is. I don’t think it’s that necessary for him.
Then there are the receivers. Wayne’s skills are tailing off and Garcon is good, when he’s not dropping balls like Lil Wayne drops rhymes. I’d keep Garcon on a one- or two-year deal and if the butterfingers improves, then sign him long term. As for Wayne, if your cleaning house and starting over, then it’s time to say “Goodbye.”
And if the Colts defense is going to be any good at all, they need to sign Mathis long-term. DE Dwight Freeney can’t do it all and if the Colts rebuild on offense and let Mathis go, then another 2-14 season could be in store.
So Irsay could let the free agent veterans go and start rebuilding now (which is my suggestion), or he could sign them all to one- or two-year deals in the hope of winning one more Championship. Regardless if he keeps Manning or not, if he doesn’t draft QB Andrew Luck, he will regret it. And if he guesses wrong with Manning, he will lose his job. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.