With the Giants defeating the Patriots on Sunday in Super Bowl XLVI, the 2011 season is now officially over. The biggest storyline this offseason will be the future of Peyton Manning. He is coming off a severe neck injury that has required multiple surgeries and he didn’t play a snap in 2011. The Colts hold the #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, and they are expected to selecting Stanford QB Andrew Luck with that pick.
Suffice it to say, the writing is on the wall – it appears the Colts and Manning will part ways. And that’s why Manning’s future is the #1 storyline of this NFL offseason. Keep in mind, this discussion is irrelevant unless and until Manning becomes a free agent. As long as he’s under contract in Indianapolis, he’s off limits for other teams.
But back to the discussion. First off, will Manning be able to return to the field? So far, indications are that he will attempt to return to the field, and I’m not going to bet against him returning to form. Secondly, where will Manning play if he’s able to return to the field?
That second question is the subject of the email I’m going to share with you. Jason from Winona wrote me and makes a compelling case for the Vikings to at least consider adding Manning, pointing out that only a few years ago the Vikings leaned on another all-time great (Brett Favre) in the late stages of his career to help lead them back to prominence.
As you’ll see in my response to Jason’s email, I don’t believe Manning will wind up signing in Minnesota. But you may disagree. Check out Jason’s email, then check out my response, and then weigh in to let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.
I know it’s a little late for Monday Morning Mailbag, but I was just thinking of this possible scenario for Vikings. What would the odds be of the Vikings taking a serious look at Peyton Manning? He said he was willing to work out a contract that is low in guaranteed money and salary and is based more on game performance. That’s potentially a low-risk deal for a future Hall of Famer. We so happened to pursue Favre, why wouldn’t we with Manning? Here’s reasons in my mind it would help Vikings. First, the Vikings are looking for stadium momentum to get a deal done and start building a state-of-the-art stadium. It would not only bring hype and a lot of support for the team, but it would almost guarantee us to be in playoff contention, barring everyone is healthy (Adrian Peterson, Manning and others). But I really think Manning still has something to prove, and if he’s healthy he is an elite QB. Look at what they call “the House that Peyton Built” (Lucas Oil Stadium). I believe we have just as good of fans; it’s just hard when you go 3-13 to have that support and have that constant buzz in the air for the team. Secondly, with a person like Manning, people will want to play with him. We need WR help, and adding Manning sure would almost guarantee us to get Reggie Wayne or Pierre Garcon for a good price. And if we can add another WR in the draft, we would look really solid for next year in that department. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in Christian Ponder, but with some of our key players getting older and our superstar RB with severe knee injury, we all know the shelf life for a RB in the NFL is not much over 10 years. So I think it’s important to make sure that we are trying to make the team more competitive in any way possible. Also, it would really be important to have Ponder sit behind and watch Manning for a year or two. Right now I don’t think we will be a playoff team until 2013, and I think Ponder will still have some growing to do. Thirdly, Leslie Frazier is really good friends with Tony Dungy, and Manning helped win a Super Bowl for Dungy. Manning is a good guy, so is Frazier and so is Dungy. See where I’m going with? I just think Manning would have a real interest to come to Minnesota and I feel just because we drafted Ponder last year, that doesn’t mean we don’t look at a real option to upgrade the QB position for years to come. What do you think? I really think this can’t be overlooked and I hope we really take a look at Manning.
— Jason B.
You make a lot of good points, Jason, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Here are a few of my reactions to your email…
– I actually don’t think adding Manning would help in the stadium push. We needed a stadium back in 2009, and back then we were 12-4 and went to the NFC Championship Game. That did nothing to help us generate momentum for a stadium, because obviously we’re still in the same place now that we were then – inexplicably without a home for the 2012 season. If winning back-to-back division titles, going 12-4, adding Brett Favre and then going to the NFC title game doesn’t help with a stadium, then I don’t think adding a veteran QB with a severe neck injury will help the stadium push, either.
– While I agree players will want to play with Manning and thus adding him would help attract free agents, especially WRs, I don’t think the identity of the QB is the ultimate factor for free agents in their decision process. Players want to be paid and they want to be appreciated. Those two things matter more than who their teammates might be. You’re right that Wayne and Garcon might be more comfortable playing in Minnesota if Manning was here, but they still are going to have contractual demands.
– I do believe in the strategy of sitting a young QB for a few seasons to help him learn and develop without the pressure of performing on the field during games. The Packers did this with Aaron Rodgers and Favre, and obviously that worked out pretty well. But with the Donovan McNabb experiment not working out and Ponder being thrust into action midway through the season in 2011, I think that idea is out the window for Ponder in Minnesota. I believe that now the Vikings must focus on treating Ponder as the starter and aiding him in developing on the field now so he can begin to lead the team in 2012. You say that the Vikings won’t be a playoff contender in 2012 and it will be 2013 before they are, but people might have said the same thing about the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers a year ago. They both had losing records in 2010. In 2011, though, both made the playoffs, and the 49ers hosted the NFC title game. A lot can change in an offseason, and the Vikings goal for 2012 will be to win the division. While winning the division next year would certainly be an overachievement for the Vikings, crazier things have happened and I believe the Vikings have the ability to turn things around quickly if they make the right moves and if Ponder develops into a reliable starter.
Pursuing Manning is an intriguing idea for the Vikings and it’s one worth the thought, for sure. But I just don’t think it will work out for Manning to come to Minnesota.
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