Perhaps the title of the story should be re-phrased. It’s not that I think the Kansas City Chiefs really should be in the market for Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning. But I’m surprised they aren’t getting more play in the media as possible suitor for the future Hall of Famer.
Presuming Manning is healthy enough to be able to play he’s a huge upgrade for anyone—even at 75 percent, that’s better than 100 percent of most other quarterbacks in the NFL. But the number of places that make sense for him to go are much fewer. I would think Manning wants to be on a contender, one that he can make the difference between missing the playoffs entirely and maybe delivering a Super Bowl run. In this, it’s similar to Brett Favre’s situation when he left Green Bay. How many teams have a true Super Bowl opportunity, but no quarterback?
I would argue that Kansas City meets the mold. We’re talking about a team that managed to scrape out seven wins in spite of Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles missing the 2011 season, in spite of a midseason coaching change and in spite of a combination of injuries and incompetence at the quarterback position. Even just holding steady and getting everyone healthy makes Kansas City a good bet to win the AFC West. Why wouldn’t a healthy Peyton put the Chiefs into the Super Bowl discussion?
The AFC has the look of a conference that’s going to open up. A decade-plus that’s seen New England, Indianapolis or Pittsburgh reach the Super Bowl every year but one since 2001 (Oakland’s 2002 run the only exception) has already seen the Colts peeled off. Then you ask how much longer Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can keep doing it with substandard personnel at so many other positions. Pittsburgh needs serious re-tooling on both lines and have become dependent on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a few big plays from the linebackers and the coaching of Mike Tomlin. If you look at the rest of the AFC, Baltimore may have missed their moment this season, and while Houston has the look of a team ready to ascend, they are also likely to be everyone’s preseason darling next year—never a good thing for a team not used to dealing with expectations.
So the question for Kansas City is simply this—Why not us? And from there it presumes to follow, why not Peyton? I would personally be skeptical of such a move, obviously pending the asking price, but I wouldn’t give up three prime prospects or draft picks to get him, and it would seem Indianapolis can get that in return. But just because I’m skeptical doesn’t mean others wouldn’t be, and based on that, I’m surprised the Chiefs haven’t shown up with the Jets and possible landing places for Manning.