Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Indianapolis Colts release quarterback Peyton Manning; imagine the possibilities

Can you imagine Peyton Manning in gold?

You know, the kind of gold his weight will be measured in?

Manning, the newest unemployed American, needs a job. At this precise moment, you can imagine him hunched over a keyboard, typing out his resume in case, say, the San Francisco 49ers are interested.

"Hey, hon. How do you spell '399 touchdowns?' ''

After all these years, after all these moments, Manning and the Colts are no longer the best thing that ever happened to each other. The Colts cut Manning loose Wednesday, and although you knew it was coming, you knew that nothing else made sense, it felt as if the landscape of the entire NFL shifted beneath our feet. Today, it is a different sport.

Manning doesn't have a team. Imagine that. Tarvaris Jackson has a job, and Rex Grossman, and Colt McCoy. Curtis Painter is employed, and Matt Hasselbeck, and Blaine Gabbert. Manning is not.

Can you imagine Manning in green?

You know, the kind of green with dead presidents on it.

Picture him standing in strange colors in a strange locker room, pulling a foreign jersey over his head. Imagine him preparing to lead, say, the Jets onto the field.

If you thought that Wednesday's sight of Manning saying goodbye looked odd — and it did — imagine him with another team. The sight of Manning the mercenary is coming, you know. And it isn't going to be pretty.

By now, you would think we would be used to familiar faces in unfamiliar colors. We have seen Joe Montana as a Chief and Ronnie Lott as a Jet and Jerry Rice as a Seahawk. We have seen Thurman Thomas as a Dolphin and Emmitt Smith as a Cardinal and Reggie White as a Panther. Anthony Munoz was once a Buc, and John Lynch a Patriot and Johnny Unitas a Charger.

This feels worse than most, however. For years, Manning and the Colts fit together perfectly. Now that they are separating, it feels as if something pure has been lost.

It took a lot to break these two up. It took age and it took injury and it took money and it took Luck and it took the realization the Colts are no longer a special team. If any of those were different, you could argue that the Colts should have hung onto Manning.

However, surgeons have opened Manning's neck so often lately they might as well put a zipper back there. He has had four surgeries, and no one knows how much he has left or how sturdy he will be.

Not only that, but Manning is about to turn 36, and not only that, but he was due a $28 million bonus, and not only that, but the Colts seem to love Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, and not only that, but the Colts proved last year they have a lot of holes on that roster.

So the Colts let go of Manning, which is kind of like the $1 bill letting go of George Washington. Across the league, expect general managers to jump on his medical report as if it was a fumble.

If he's healthy, why, who wouldn't want Manning?

Which brings us to this question: Can you imagine Manning in pewter?

You know, the kind of pewter that is on the Bucs' helmets?

Quick response? Ha-ha-haaaa-ha-ha.

No, you can't. At least, you shouldn't.

Don't get me wrong. Even if doctors had turned Manning's head into a removable screw top, he still would be twenty times better than any quarterback the Bucs have ever employed. It would be fun to watch Manning play, and the Bucs would finally sell some tickets.

All of that said, however, most people seem to realize Manning isn't a good fit in Tampa Bay.

Think of it from Manning's standpoint. If you were him, would the Bucs be among your top choices? Of course not.

No one knows how many seasons Manning has left, but it isn't many. If Manning is going to win another title, he needs to find a team on the verge of winning. He can't waste time waiting for a new team to find someone for him to throw to, or to hand off to, or to get the ball back for him. At this stage of his career, Manning doesn't need a fixer-upper.

Think of it like this: How long do you think it will take for the Bucs to win? Two seasons? Three? Now: How long do you think Manning has left? Three seasons? Four?

In other words, the math doesn't make sense. Wouldn't the Bucs be better off trying to get some weapons around Josh Freeman to turn him back into Josh the Good? For the Bucs, the question shouldn't be about Manning's ability; it should be about his durability.

Can you imagine Manning in teal?

For the time being, the Dolphins are the favorite to land Manning. According to the gambling site Bovada, it is 2-1 that Manning ends up playing for the Dolphins.

Now Miami isn't exactly Super Bowl bound, either, and it plays both the Patriots and Jets twice a year. Still, Miami is easier to imagine for Manning than Washington, which is listed as the second-biggest favorite, or Seattle, which is third.

If I was Manning's agent, I'd start off by calling the 49ers. Granted, Alex Smith had a fine season in 2011, but if Manning played there, San Francisco would have reached the Super Bowl this year.

With Manning, the Jets would not seem quite as annoying. With Manning, the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald might catch 150 passes. With Manning, the Cowboys might get over the hump that Tony Romo cannot manage.

In other words, there are going to be a lot of teams interested in Manning, which is going to drive up the price, which is going to beg this question:

How much, exactly, is an injured Manning worth? Ten million a year? Fifteen a year? Eighteen? And if you pay him that much, what does a team expect in return? The playoffs? The conference final? The Super Bowl? Remember, even when he was younger and healthier, Manning only won one of those.

Still, someone will pay.

For most teams, the odds of winning with Manning are better than without. Think of Manning as a very expensive lottery ticket.

For a good team, he could be a big reward.

For a bad one, he's a big risk.

Comments
Back on right path, Robinson Highs Byron Pringle hopes to impress at Senior Bowl

Back on right path, Robinson Highs Byron Pringle hopes to impress at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. Byron Pringle understands how easily his life could have gone another way."Ive been through a lot, but Im very blessed," he said. "What happened in the past, it made me who I am today. Its made me realize you have to value the thing...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Senior Bowl journal: Washington State teammates playing with heavy hearts after QBs suicide

Senior Bowl journal: Washington State teammates playing with heavy hearts after QBs suicide

MOBILE, Ala. Washington State QB Luke Falk and G Cole Madison began their practices at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday with heavy hearts, still reeling from last weeks news that Cougars QB Tyler Hilinski had committed suicide.They remembered their frie...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Paying homage to Brady and Belichick

Rick and Tom podcast: Paying homage to Brady and Belichick

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones examine the wonder that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the pair head to their eighth Super Bowl together and have cemented themselves as the greatest coach-QB duo in NFL history.The guys discuss ...
Published: 01/23/18
Q&A: Ex-Bucs RB Warrick Dunn on Brooks, Winston, Ring of Honor

Q&A: Ex-Bucs RB Warrick Dunn on Brooks, Winston, Ring of Honor

Former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn will be reunited with Derrick Brooks — his teammate both at Florida State and with the Bucs — when they work together Sunday as "Legends" captains for the NFC squad in Sunday's Pro Bowl in Orlando."Wh...
Published: 01/23/18
Oh Gahd, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl! Don’t worry, lots of new story lines for LII vs. E-A-G-L-E-S

Oh Gahd, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl! Don’t worry, lots of new story lines for LII vs. E-A-G-L-E-S

TAMPA – Unless you are a Chowd who drives the cah wicked fah and pahks in the yahd, you probably aren't all that jacked up about the Patriots returning to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. Anybody but Bill Belichick...
Published: 01/22/18
Updated: 01/23/18
Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

The Bucs aren't playing for a Super Bowl, and the game itself won't come to Tampa for three more years. But there's no shortage of cool local connections and ties on the Patriots and Eagles' rosters. You've already heard some of these stories, and yo...
Published: 01/22/18
Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

TAMPA — Next victim, please.Shouldn't we just start penciling the Patriots into the Super Bowl before every season?It would save us a lot of time.Mind you, the rest of the NFL is fighting Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and this foregone conclus...
Published: 01/22/18
Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their teams first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Published: 01/22/18
Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

PHILADELPHIA Confetti filled the air, fireworks erupted overhead, and fans sang "Fly, Eagles Fly!" No one dared head for the exits. There was too much to celebrate.The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.The makeshift podium hadnt taken space on Ph...
Published: 01/21/18
Updated: 01/22/18
Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Published: 01/21/18