Another day, another Peyton Manning rumor.
Despite Rob Lowe’s insistance that the Indianapolis Colts quarterback is giving serious thought about hanging up the spikes, it appears he will indeed try to make a comeback after missing the entire 2011 season.
Manning, one of the great players in NFL history, has had multiple neck surgeries over the last few years and missed the season after starting every single game from his debut in 1998 until this year.
Last week, there were rumblings that a few anonymous New York Jets players were fed up with the slow progress of current quarterback Mark Sanchez, and some wanted to bring in Manning as a replacement.
Now, I’ve adamantly written about that story and why I believe it’s too early to give up on Sanchez, who is still just 25 years old and has shown the flashes of potential that you look for in a young signal caller.
However, the NFL is a business, and any team would be doing a disservice if they didn’t do due diligence when a player of Manning’s caliber could potentially be on the table.
Jets owner Woody Johnson spoke to reporters on a conference call this week with Jets beat writers, and although he strongly endorsed Sanchez, he would not close the door on a certain big name quarterback.
“I’m not going to ever tell you guys what we may or may not do,” Johnson said, when asked about the potential pursuit of Peyton Manning if the Colts made him available.
“Our job, and my job for the fans, is to take this team to the very top level,” he said. “We’re going to look at every possibility, and that’s what you’d want us to do.”
Johnson said that he anticipates Sanchez being the guy going forward, but that “there’s no such thing as 100 percent” in this league, leaving the door open to potentially pursue Manning.
The Colts owe Manning a $28 million roster bonus in March, and if they decide not to pay it, he would become a free agent.
So although the Jets are publicly backing Sanchez, you never know. When a guy of Peyton Manning’s caliber become available, it makes business sense to at least kick the tires.
Who knows if the elder Manning brother can still play? I doubt he’ll retire, with that big roster bonus potentially coming his way, but he has to prove he can still physically play this game.
Interestingly, the last game Manning played before his neck injury was a home playoff loss to none other than Mark Sanchez and the Jets, in the 2010-11 NFL postseason.
I still believe it will be Sanchez at the helm going forward, but you never know. The Jets have made moves for flashy quarterbacks before (see Favre, Brett: 2008) so I won’t be too quick to dismiss anything.