The news is in!! Colts QB Peyton Manning has been cleared to play by doctors. Manning still has some work to do to get ready, but all indications are is he going to give all he has to make it back, although there hasn’t been a definite return day set. So now the question comes: If he’s not in Indianapolis (which he probably won’t be), where does this future Hall-Of-Famer go? In my estimation, three teams could be in the running for Peyton, assuming he is able to get healthy enough to play.
The first team that should take a look at Peyton is the New York Jets. The last few seasons the Jets have been led by Mark Sanchez at quarterback. No offense to Sanchez, but he isn’t the most consistent quarterback when it comes to making clutch plays. Also, with Sanchez, the Jets weren’t exactly a team that could come back from deficits at all. If you plug Peyton Manning in that offense, then maybe the Jets are more consistent offensively and win 10-12 games. And maybe wide receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller would be used more as well. You add that to head coach Rex Ryan’s expertise on defense and you would have a potential Super Bowl contender.
The next team that could be in the running for Manning would be the Miami Dolphins. This franchise hasn’t had a great quarterback since Dan Marino. What better quarterback to start the Joe Philbin era than Peyton? It sure beats the alternatives that are out there if Peyton is healthy (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton). Manning would have some nice weapons to throw to with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, tight end Anthony Fasano and he would be electric with slot receiver Davone Bess. All these guys to go with Reggie Bush and the Miami offense would be pretty dangerous.
The last and final team I could see making a run at Peyton if he’s healthy is the San Francisco 49ers. The 9ers had a great defense, but they just lacked some punch offensively. Alex Smith played great this season and I believe it’s a long shot that San Francisco pursues Manning, but why not take a look? The addition of Manning to go along with a wide receiver would make the 49ers. A serious contender again in the NFC.
Manning has a long way to go in his rehab. He still has to strengthen his arm and get some nerves to regenerate in his arm. Also, when picking up Peyton, you also have to assume the risk of him potentially going down again with an injury. But Peyton’s story reminds me of another great quarterback, Joe Montana. People thought Joe Montana was done and apparently, so did the 49ers. They let him go and he turned around and went to the Kansas City Chiefs and led them into the playoffs. Maybe it’s Peyton’s turn to have his Joe Montana moment. But instead of finishing with a loss in the playoffs, maybe Manning could finish holding the Lombardi trophy.