4 Reasons Keeping Peyton Manning Would Have Made Sense For Irsay, Colts

Things are rarely black and white in sports.

All variables, options, and end scenarios must be considered before making any decision – and even then, poor decisions are still made.

The Indianapolis Colts made the wrong decision concerning Peyton Manning.


Photo via Fox Sports

Let’s play out all of the conceivable scenarios, and you can decide for yourself what the Colts should have done.

Of course, the following scenarios can only be looked at after considering the following three foundational truths that completely affect the decision-making process.

1. No player from any team in any sport in history has meant as much to his team as Peyton Manning means to the Colts.  

Remember, Indiana was, and has always been a basketball state.  Only after the creation of high school class basketball, the destruction of the Indiana Hoosiers, and the demolition of the Reggie Miller Pacers did football come to the forefront. Peyton Manning is the sole reason that the Colts didn’t move to Los Angeles.

With him, the Colts have become one of the most popular teams in the nation, and he is without a doubt the most popular player.  Without him?  The Colts don’t even exist.  The idea that a player of his importance to a franchise is going to retire wearing a different jersey is just hideous.

And by the way, I think Jim Irsay is about to find out REAL soon how many people were cheering for the Horseshoe…and how many were cheering for #18.

2. The Indianapolis Colts decided to give Manning an enormous contract only six months ago.

This should not go unnoticed.  In case you were wondering, yes…the Colts did know about Manning’s injury when they decided to sign him to another five-year deal.

3. Peyton Manning’s future is uncertain – and that’s putting it mildly.

Trading Peyton was not an option.  No team would take on his contract, and that would be unfair to him as a player.

That left the following scenarios on the table.  As it turns out, nearly every single scenario that began with the Colts keeping Peyton Manning would have ended better than letting him go.

Scenario #1:  The Colts keep Peyton Manning, draft Andrew Luck, and Manning gets hurt.

In this scenario, Jim Irsay gets what he wanted (Andrew Luck), Andrew Luck gets a fair chance (he’s coming in to save the Colts after Peyton got hurt), Peyton gets to finish his career with the Colts (hugely important, if not tangibly so), and most importantly, the fans win all around.

As a former Colts fan (yes, you read that correctly.  My favorite team is now Peyton Manning’s next team), I fail to see the downside of any part of this scenario.

Word on the street is that, supposedly, Jim Irsay knows something about Manning’s injury that the rest of us don’t.  He’s scared to death of moving forward with someone who could be done at any minute.

I think that’s a copout, but even if it’s not…where is bad in this scenario?  Do you really want Andrew Luck starting from day one on a team that just lost half of its fans while the other half are putting infinite amounts of pressure on you to be the savior?


Andrew Luck (Photo by BrokenSphere via Wikimedia Commons)

Say Manning did get hurt…NOW YOU HAVE YOUR OUT!!!!  If that were to happen, then Andrew Luck, in some weird way, is an underdog.  Then Manning fans might actually cheer for Luck to do well.  Manning was just the poor old guy whose time had come, not the legend who is apparently throwing well again who was chased out because the owner all of the sudden got cheap.

The only possible downside in this scenario is if Andrew Luck is a bust.  But guess what, that could happen anyway!

Remember, with the new rookie pay scale, Luck isn’t going to be making Sam Bradford money.  It would have been fiscally reasonable to carry Luck and Manning on the same team.  Really, it would have been fiscally wise to do so. It’s the perfect insurance policy on Manning’s neck.

Scenario #2:  The Colts keep Manning, draft Luck, and Manning isn’t the same.

Really, this is just an extension of scenario one, but let’s just pretend that the Colts kept Manning and he was healthy…but he simply couldn’t make all of the throws he used to be able to make.

Personally, I feel that Manning would have gracefully stepped down in this hypothetical, but let’s pretend that he pulls a Michael Jordan and keeps trying to play.  Wouldn’t we know pretty quickly?  Let’s say that Luck lights it up in pre-season as Manning struggles.  No big deal, Manning never took pre-season games seriously.  But then the season starts and Manning is just off.  Not off for him, but off in general.  He can’t throw the 30-yard out anymore.  He’s more immobile than ever.  The Colts struggle to 6-10.

Are we sure that Luck would have done that much better as a first year rookie on a team with this little talent?

And besides that, isn’t this still a much better scenario for Luck to walk into than the current one?

In this scenario, in the minds of the fans the Colts gave Manning a chance, but he simply couldn’t cut it.  Now they could turn their attention to the youngster to see if he could make the Colts better.

For Luck, he would see that the organization shows an uncommon loyalty to its players.  Don’t you think he would feel more comfortable knowing that they would be loyal to him as well?

Again, in a weird way, you turn the #1 pick into an underdog that people want to cheer for.  As it is currently, through no fault of Luck’s own I might add, a lot of people want to see him fail.  That’s never a good situation to walk into.

Scenario #3:  The Colts keep Manning, draft Luck, and Manning plays well.

Oh man.  Wouldn’t this just be the worst thing ever?!?

But let’s be honest…this is what Jim Irsay is scared of the most.

Nobody wants to have a #1 pick sitting on the bench, right?

Wrong.  Colts fans did.

I was perfectly fine to sit Luck on the pine for a year or two.  What, that would have been the end of the world to go to Peyton Manning Fantasy Training Camp every single day?  I’m sure Andrew Luck would have been a giant waste of potential.

No, the best option was to pull the Aaron Rodgers plan again.  Play Manning, stash Luck, win now, win later.

And one more thing before we move on.  Have we so quickly forgotten how good Peyton Manning is?  Did you forget the turnaround from last season to this season that quickly?  If Peyton Manning played well, the Colts would make the playoffs.  Done.  End of story.  That’s irrefutable.

Could you say the same thing about Andrew Luck in his rookie season?  Probably not.

Scenario #4:  You release Peyton Manning and draft Andrew Luck.

Let’s just run through a few quick points.

  • You are replacing a legend, the most important player in your franchise’s history, and the most important player in the entire league from the past ten years.
  • You are playing on a team that is legitimately terrible.  They went 2-14.  Oh and by the way, Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday, and Pierre Garcon might decide to leave now as well.  They were only 3 of the 7 best players on a team that won two games last season.
  • Half of your team’s fan base is angry…and some people are even antagonistic towards you, hoping that you fail.
  • You are playing for an owner that clearly cares nothing about his players, no matter how important you may be.
  • You are a rookie QB…it’s never hard to start as a rookie QB, right?

Let me ask you, would you want to play for the Indianapolis Colts under those circumstances?

Andrew Luck might be the second coming of Joe Montana with Cam Newton’s size and speed.  It won’t matter.

Anyone that thinks the Colts are making the SAFE decision…the LOGICAL decision…the SMART decision…clearly hasn’t thought this all the way through.


(Photo credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)


About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.


  1. This is cool and everything, but there are 28 million reasons why it makes perfect sense to release him.

    • Mikesardone says:

      In the first 3 scenarios, you don’t even account for Luck and his agent not wanting to go to a team with an in-place QB. Why would Luck, who could have started from day 1 last year, stay in school then sit on the bench? Especially in a world where #1 pick start right away (plus Andy Dalton)? If Eli could get out of San Diego, Luck would force the same on the Colts.

      • Mike, you are still missing the point.
        This is operating on the assumption that an amazing year by Andrew Luck is as valuable to Colts and their fans as Peyton Manning.  It’s simply not true.
        I’d rather watch Peyton go 10-6 than Luck go 12-4.  You can feel free to think that’s messed up…but I bet you most Colts fans feel the same way.

    • Were those 28 million reasons not there six months ago?
      More importantly, do Colts fans really care about the money?  
      At certain times in sports, you come across a player who has earned the right to finish out his career with a certain team.  The Yankees did this last year with Jeter…not because he was worth 20 million a year…but it would have been awful to release him and risk jeopardizing the fan base.

      • Everything was different back then. Literally everything. And whether Colts fans care about money or not is irrelevant. Colts management cares, and they NEED to care. You can’t run a pro football team without concentrating on the financial aspect. That’s just basic.

        Also, Yanks-Colts isn’t even close to a remote comparison here. Very different sports, very different value of the respective players’ positions, very different replacement options, very different salary structure, very different cities… there’s really no comparison. And to be honest, I think the Yankees screwed up there too.

  2. Zach Roschi says:

    I’m torn. I knew this was coming for months now, I didn’t want it to happen but had this gut feeling. But yesterday as the news became official, I was still frozen on the couch and sick to my stomach! The only other comparable feeling was watching Reggie Miller walk of the court for the last time in Detroit realizing I will never see him play again. 

  3. how about this scenario-colts trade top pick for a bushel of picks, including a 1st round pick next year from bottom feeding team, and keep Manning.  they use those picks to shore up other weaknesses on this team (too many to mention here) and roll into the playoffs this year.  next year they use that 1st round pick for the true quarterback of the future, either Barkley from USC or Wilson from Arkansas.  that player sits & learns for a year or 2 & then Manning retires on his own terms (hopefully with another Super Bowl ring) & the Colts are ready for continued success with their new QB.

    • Yet another scenario in which keeping Peyton Manning pays off for the Colts as opposed to dropping him.  Thanks for your comments, Kip!

    • I will never understand those who assume that Peyton Manning has another
      Super Bowl run in him when he only won one of them in his first 14
      years. Why do people think this is such a guarantee, other than blatant
      pro-Peyton bias?

      • Patrick, please reread my post.  i said “hopefully with another Super Bowl ring”.  don’t all of us “hope” that our team will win a Super Bowl?  what is the point of rooting for a team if you don’t “hope” they win a Super Bowl?  and finally, man, why do you have to be a hater?

  4. what are you complaining about, if all the scouts and analysts are correct you will have another 12 years of peyton manning 2.0.  

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