This week Peyton Manning will almost certainly be released by the Indianapolis Colts to make room for presumptive #1 overall pick Andrew Luck. Manning will immediately become the most sought-after free agent in NFL history, and the Seattle Seahawks would be nakedly incompetent if they didn't make a serious attempt to acquire him. Here's why...
First of all, let's dispense with all the usual negativity and fatalistic defeatism you hear from a lot of Seahawks fans. In this case, it's the assumption that Peyton Manning would never want to trudge up to South Alaska to don a Seahawks uniform. This is utter, uncut, unsalted bullshit. Manning MIGHT not want to play in Seattle, but it's idiotic to ASSUME so without even asking the dude. It's worth remembering what the Seahawks have to offer Manning: A billionaire owner, a team in a great salary cap situation, a young, up-and-coming roster (including a punishing defense, Pro-Bowl running back, and potentially elite offensive line), the league's best facilities and fans that make Lucas Oil Stadium seem quieter than an Amish library.
In Seattle, Manning would be instantly adored and not face the same media crush he might in New York, Miami, or DC. If the Seahawks brain trust ever makes their pitch to Manning, it would include a strong argument that coming to Seattle would give Peyton his best shot at winning another Lombardi Trophy. Compare Seattle's roster to Miami, DC, Arizona... to ANY other team who might take a serious run at Manning- the Seahawks are younger, better managed, and already on an upward trajectory. Coming to Seattle is Manning's best shot at a storybook, victorious closing chapter to his career.
Why should the Seahawks want him? Twelves are deeply divided over this, with a vocal faction violently opposed to acquiring Manning. This is madness. The last time Peyton Manning stepped on an NFL field in the 2010 playoffs, he was not in the throes of any sort of decline- He was the equal of Brees, Rodgers, and Brady. If he's healthy (and it sure looks like he's well on his way to a full recovery), one of the greatest QBs in NFL history, still playing at an All-Pro level, would hit the free-agent market. To paraphrase noted NFL expert Bart Simpson, "We'd be stupid NOT to do this!"
With all due respect to Tarvaris Jackson (who I have defended in these pages many times), he's not going to put up this line in 2012: 4700 yards, 33 TDs, and a 91.9 passer rating (those are Manning's 2010 regular season numbers). Manning would instantly make Rice, Baldwin, Tate, BMW, etc MUCH better receivers. He'd be such a frightening passing threat that Marshawn Lynch would suddenly see GAPING holes- Manning would increase Lynch's value and extend his career. Our young offensive line would benefit from Manning's lightning-quick release, and our defense would become even more fearsome if they were regularly playing with the lead.
Since Manning would be a free agent acquisition, adding him wouldn't keep the Seahawks from continuing to build via the draft (and it's not like signing Manning would be keeping the Seahawks from getting Luck or Griffin- They have NO shot at either of those guys anyway). Picking up Manning WOULD eat up a large chunk of our cap space, but I'd rather have one of the greatest QBs of all time than Mario Williams, frankly.
One of the WORST straw-man arguments I've heard out there is "I'd only want Manning if it GUARANTEED a Super Bowl for the Seahawks!" Unfortunately, NO player can do that. Not Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees. However, adding Manning to the Seahawks would INSTANTLY make Seattle a strong Super Bowl contender, and without mortgaging our future drafts in the process. Yes, it's not a perfect fit in terms of schemes, philosophy, etc... But like the man said "Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good." It might not exactly fit into Pete Carrol's grand plan, but Peyton Manning represents such a unique opportunity to accelerate Seattle's ascent that I'd have to believe he'd be flexible enough to bring #18 (maybe #16 with the Seahawks) out to the VMAC for a workout.
Another specious argument is in regards to Manning's health- The idea is floating around out there that Manning represents some insane injury risk. The truth is that he's already been medically cleared, and it certainly appears that he's regaining his previous arm strength. Once that process is complete, he's no more of an injury risk than any other player- and even if you don't buy that, it's likely that any contract he'd agree to would be structured to protect the Seahawks in the event that he were injured.
Signing Manning would be a risk, but the rewards could be astronomical. Let's not forget one other factor: The risk of letting Manning sign with the Cardinals. Would we rather have Manning throwing TD passes to Doug Baldwin or Larry Fitzgerald for the the next 3-4 years? Do we want to be a team so inflexible, so blinkered, that we let an opportunity like this slip away unpursued?
Mr. Allen- Next week, send your plane out to pick up Mr. Manning. Have Coach Carroll take a look at him. That's all I ask.
What do you think, sirs?