All good things must come to an end, so says the English proverb.
Or maybe it was noted 21st century wit Russell Brand that said it.
If Peyton Manning’s release from the Colts today reminded us of anything, it is that no player – even the NFL’s greatest – is bound to one franchise. We’ve seen it before (Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Brett Favre), we’ve seen it locally (Reggie White, Brian Dawkins) and we’ll see it again (Tom Brady?).
It’s hard to argue with Indianapolis’ decision to dump Manning and begin a new era with Andrew Luck, but if Manning is expendable then any player on any other team is as well. That includes Michael Vick. It’s why the Eagles should seriously consider pursuing Manning, who could hit the waiver wire as soon as 4 p.m. today.
Should the Eagles sign free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning?
(Andy Reid apparently told Les Bowen of the Daily News today that the Eagles weren’t going after Manning, but I once recall the Eagles coach saying the same thing about Vick. So we’ll wait until Manning signs elsewhere before we eliminate the Eagles from contention.)
I’ve dropped messages with several of my Eagles contacts about the team’s interest in Manning and have yet to receive a single answer. I wouldn’t read the silence one way or the other. Surely, Reid and Howie Roseman will do their due diligence on Manning, a certain Hall of Fame quarterback. I was told a few weeks back by one team source that the Eagles had already had an internal discussion about the possibility.
Not that that should be much of a surprise. Nor should it be a shock that the Eagles are holding off on delivering a definitive “no” on Manning because they want to explore whether they could even enter the conversation.
But how far are they willing to take it? Would they bring Manning in for a private workout? Would they give him a physical?
Let’s stop right here for a moment and say plaintively that the Eagles getting Manning is a long shot – much longer than the odds they were spotted in the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes last summer. The Eagles will have to outbid possibly as many as a half dozen teams to land Manning.
Miami, Washington, the New York Jets and Seattle have already made it clear that they will aggressively go after the 36-year-old. Arizona, Kansas City, San Francisco and Houston could also make a play for Manning. There are also a number of potential sleepers that could be involved.
So there’s that.
There’s also the thorny issue of trading Vick. He’s a proven commodity in this league, but his salary ($18 million guaranteed) next season and the fact that, well, he wasn’t very good in 2011 are obstacles to getting a deal done. Vick, needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), also brings a certain amount of baggage.
Manning will get a decent amount of guaranteed dollars in his next contract, even with the neck concerns, so the Eagles won’t be able to carry both salaries. Vick’s overall contract, though, could make him appealing to other teams. He’s due only $2 million guaranteed for 2013.
But let’s say the Eagles are able to outbid their opponents and they’re able to unload Vick, would Manning even want to come here? There have been reports that he doesn’t want to play in the same conference as his brother, Eli, which would eliminate any NFC teams and certainly any that play in the same division as the New York Giants.
The Redskins have been considered the favorites by many because they are one of the few teams with the wherewithal to get Manning. But they, too, would be ruled out if Manning wants to avoid seeing his brother twice a year.
The Eagles would seem to have one advantage over most – if not all – of the teams listed above. They have a high-powered offense with some of the best skill position players in the league. A number of those teams have top-ranked defenses, however, while the Eagles do not.
Despite the long odds the Eagles would be doing themselves – and their fans – an injustice if they weren’t to chase Manning. Vick is an above average quarterback, and should benefit from his first full offseason as a starter in six seasons, but once-in-a-lifetime quarterbacks aren’t often there for the taking.
There is risk. Manning even admitted today that he wasn’t all the way back. But there’s also a certain amount of risk in staying with Vick when there is plenty of evidence that he doesn’t have what it takes to win a Super Bowl.
All good things must come to an end.
Reid should consider his possible end when weighing whether to pursue Manning.