The Peyton Manning era is officially over in Indianapolis and the after shocks will be felt globally, from within free agency all the way to the 2012 NFL Draft.
To some, the decision to release Manning was the right choice. The Colts are all but expected to draft Andrew Luck as the heir to the throne, and the money saved from Manning's release will help this team find some much needed upgrades.
To others, Manning's release was nonsensical; offering little hope for the 2012 season and no-one to mentor said heir apparent—among other reasons we won't get into.
But whether you are for, or against the decision, the fact of the matter is, one era is over and a new era is set to begin.
So what about Peyton Manning? Is he finished? Has the immortal face of the Indianapolis Colts fallen from grace? Has the indelible mark of Colts history become just that...history?
Perhaps it is safe to speculate that after several neck surgeries, Manning isn't quite going to be the same. Maybe we could even go out on a limb and say his best days are behind him, but his career is seemingly far from being complete.
It's pretty obvious that Manning will be one of the most sought-after free agents in history—almost expected to be so—but the question now is who comes-a-knockin and where is Manning most likely to land?
There are at least two definite teams in the NFL that are shopping for a new QB: Washington and Miami while Arizona, Seattle, Kansas City and even Houston being speculated to—at the bare minimum—kick the tires on Manning.
Washington is atop of the list hands down. The Redskins were already expected to attempt some sort of deal for St. Louis' second pick—in hopes of acquiring RG III—but now that could be Plan B according to The Washington Post:
[box] "The Washington Redskins are poised to make an aggressive effort in coming days to sign quarterback Peyton Manning, who became perhaps the highest-profile free agent in NFL history with the announcement of his release by the Indianapolis Colts Wednesday." - The Washington Post[/box]
The Miami Dolphins should also make a strong run towards Manning, especially if the Packers do not slap the franchise tag on backup Matt Flynn by March 13th. Flynn was speculated to be on the Dolphins' radar earlier this year, and should now work to be their "backup plan" if they fail to land Manning.
[box] "The Dolphins are going to chase Peyton Manning if he becomes available in free agency. That is already decided. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross loves the idea of Manning and has established him as the offseason quarterback priority. Manning first. Matt Flynn second. Drafting a quarterback third." - The Miami Herald [/box]
The other four teams will most definitely put their bid in, but I wouldn't expect much more than that, but that's just my opinion.
So where does Manning end up?
Washington has the best chance overall to land Manning and can offer Peyton a "zone-read" type passing game that could suit his skill-sets.
Miami will probably put up a good fight and can offer Manning a more traditional spread-offense build that provides both the deep-ball threat with a secure short-passing game to compliment.
But who has the bigger checkbook, and who is willing to take the calculated risk?
According to The Sun Sentinel, the Washington Redskins are expected to be "big spenders" in free agency this year while Miami is expected to be "working on a budget".
The Redskins are also expected to have no reservations regarding Manning's surgeries, and while I haven't heard any news regarding Miami' feelings, one can imagine that a team already on a budget could possibly have a limit to what they will offer Manning.
If I had to make an educated guess, I would have to say that Manning is more likely to wind up in Washington than any other team in the league for several reasons:
1. More cap space than most of the potential suitors
2. Less reservations about Mannings' neck injury from a year ago
3. Not as many team needs as other suitors that could hinder a big purchase such as Manning
This is, of course, just speculation. For all I know any one of these teams could simply throw a wrench into the normal speculation and educated guessing simply because this is Peyton Manning we're talking about—but I doubt it...for now.
Peyton Manning, if healthy, has more than a "couple of years" left in him, so his name isn't the only carrier here that is making his availability as coveted as chocolate to a child, and it's pretty safe to say he will once again make an impact wherever he plays
The Manning Era may be over in Indianapolis which is a tough thing to go through if you're a Colts fan, but there's an old saying that goes: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile that it happened."
For the rest of us, it's only a matter of time before a new Manning era begins—I say let the frenzy begin.
So where do you think Manning will, or should, wind up? Let me hear your thoughts and ideas below and get the speculation going.