The Indianapolis Colts have a big decision to make, a decision that could not only affect the future of their own franchise but that of others. The only reason the Colts must decide if Peyton Manning will continue to lead their team from the quarterback position remains purely due to his health. Manning has had three neck surgeries in the last 18 months and what was supposed to be a month out of the game turned into 3 months and then the season was over and Manning didn’t play a single down. If Manning is 100% healthy he’ll likely stay a Colt, partly due to the $28 million signing bonus he will be due in 2012, unless he and the Colts can re-structure a contract that was only signed last year. The knock on effect of all this is of course what the Colts do with the number one pick in the NFL draft? Do they keep Manning and still draft their Quarterback of the future in Andrew Luck, trade Manning or trade the pick?
Despite question marks about Manning’s health, two teams have already expressed an interest in signing him, the Dolphins and the Jets. It would be a bold move for the Colts to not select Andrew Luck so that’s certainly what I expect to happen.
So whatever the Colts do, what could the knock on effect be as teams attempt to solve the problem of who to have as the man in the most important position in all of sports.
The Quarterback free agent market is a poor one this year. Take out Drew Brees and Alex Smith who will be resigned by their own teams and that leaves Matt Flynn who remains somewhat an unknown quantity and the Raiders Jason Campbell as the best options, therefore the majority of teams looking for a new triggerman will have to do it through the draft unless we are going to have an off season of blockbuster trades.
Teams who could & maybe should be looking for a change at Quarterback:
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have been looking for a franchise Quarterback since Dan Marino retired back in 1999. Matt Moore has played well this year but the Dolphins still only won 6 games and their head coach was fired before the season finished being replaced by the Green Bay Packers offensive co-ordinator Joe Philbin. That inevitably brought talk of bringing free agent Matt Flynn from Green Bay with him. Miami currently hold the 8th pick in the draft that has some good college quarterback prospects. Jason Campbell would also solve the problem here.
New York Jets: The Jets have plenty of problems, including some dissent in the locker room towards their current QB Mark Sanchez. The Jets believe that they are and have been ready to win the Super Bowl for the last few years but Sanchez hasn’t taken them to that next level. Sanchez may not have regressed but he hasn’t progressed either. A deal for Manning although a short term option would give the Jets a genuine shot at winning the big one.
Baltimore Ravens: Yes, Joe Flacco did just play in the AFC Championship game but like Sanchez has he really progressed since he arrived back in 2008? That said it would be a bold decision to ditch Flacco at this point although he is entering the final year of his contract and maybe he is playing for his future.
Cleveland Browns: Colt McCoy wasn’t a disaster but it’s fair to say he didn’t light it up in Cleveland either although in his defence his supporting cast is all but non-existent on an offense that ranked 29th overall. The Browns hold the 4th overall pick in the draft and the rumours are that the Browns will draft Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin, and the success of Cam Newton will no doubt have increased Griffin’s stock. The question maybe if the Colts don’t select Andrew Luck, what do the Browns do? Whoever their QB is next season the Browns need to get some receiver help with their additional draft picks.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags offense was last in the league in total offense. Former Falcons Offensive co-ordinator Mike Mularkey was hired as head coach in order to help turn around this unit, starting with Blaine Gabbert. As is stands Gabbert does not look like an NFL Quarterback but the Jags see him as a work in progress and have suggested that they are not ready to bail on him just yet. However Mularkey has failed as a head coach before and won’t want to put his career solely in the hands of Blaine Gabbert. A team with so many needs won’t want to use a high (7th) draft pick on another young QB, so expect the jags to make a move for someone like Chad Henne or Kyle Orton, if the Falcons don’t re-sign Chris Redman then this could also be an option.
Washington Redskins: Surely Mike Shanahan knows he can’t go into another season with Rex Grossman as his best option at QB. The Redskins have the 6th overall pick in the draft and therefore someone like Oklahoma’s Landry Jones or Arkansas Tyler Wilson being the most likely unless Shanahan sees Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson as another John Elway type.
Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder showed signs that he could be a solid option for the Vikings for the next few years although he had some late season wobbles. Leslie Fraser’s job is on the line and may want another option at this position but won’t spend more than a third of fourth round pick on a quarterback. Therefore a free agent like Chad Henne may be an option here.
Buccaneers / Cardinals / Seahawks: These three teams may have their projected starter for now but a bad start to 2012 or in some cases a bad training camp and pre-season could lose someone their job. The Bucs Josh Freeman went from 25 TD’s and 6 INT’s in 2010 to 16 TD’s and 22 INT’s in 2011. The Job is still his but another 6 games like that to start the 2012 season and he will be pulled. The Cardinals trade for Kevin Kolb wasn’t a bad idea at the time but Kolb has been inconsistent and unless that changes he could also be on the side-line, however the Cardinals have no decent options and therefore may have to use a 3rd round draft pick on someone like Kellen Moore unless Russell Wilson is still there. Jason Campbell could be an option but Kolb would likely have to be cut or traded for this to happen. Tavaris Jackson played better than expected in Seattle but there are limits to how far the Seahawks can go with him at the helm and therefore a QB in the first or second round would not be a surprise.
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