Today was one of those rare breakups in sports where neither side was to blame. Peyton Manning’s departure from Indianapolis was set into motion by a perfect storm of circumstances, leading both parties to acknowledge that a split was the only logical course of action. Manning was justified in wanting the $28 million he was due had he remained on the roster, while the Colts were justified in wanting to draft Andrew Luck and save the money they would have paid Manning in order to build a team around their new QB. This afternoon’s press conference reflected a begrudging acceptance by both sides that today’s events were preordained as soon as the Colts lost to the Jaguars on the last day of the season, thus guaranteeing themselves the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. Manning and Colts owner Bob Irsay handled the matter with as much dignity and class as I’ve ever seen in a sports divorce.
Now the question becomes: Where will Manning land? The Redskins have been identified as one of the leading potential suitors (along with the Dolphins, the Cardinals, the Jets and several others), and team sources have said they plan to pursue Manning aggressively. Here’s why I think he will take a pass on Washington: First, he’s has spent the past 14 years in an environment that has been defined by stability and order. I think it’s fair to say that the Redskins are the NFL franchise that most exemplifies the antithesis of those qualities. I don’t believe a guy with Manning’s credentials and temperament would willingly walk into the chaos that has defined this franchise over the past decade when he has a plethora of other options.
Second, playing for the Redskins would mean two annual meetings between Peyton and his little brother’s New York Giants. Based on the emotional angst both Peyton and Eli seemed to experience leading up to their previous meetings, I can’t imagine that is something either sibling would relish.
For all the ill-advised personnel moves the Redskins made under Vinny Cerrato, it is a credit to Bruce Allen and his staff that they actually have the salary cap room to acquire someone like Manning. Due in part to the purge of veterans Allen orchestrated prior to last season, the Redskins have more than $30 million under the cap to work with should they decide to pursue Manning. That said, I think it would be a horrible idea. My column from February 15 explains why.