Updated Jan 28, 2012 - 2:36 pm
Manning in Arizona makes sense
But before you Cardinals fans start saving up for those red #18 jerseys, think about this: assuming the Colts do cut him loose, and assuming he gets a clean bill of health by March 8th, Manning might have a concern or two about coming to the desert.
I know the Cards have arguably the best wide receiver in football. They also happen to have one of the worst offensive lines in the game. Their quarterbacks have been sacked 104 times over the past two seasons, and knocked down another 179 times. They ranked 31st out of 32 teams in sacks allowed in 2010 and ‘11. That's probably not very enticing to a guy who's undergone three neck surgeries over the past nineteen months, and doesn't even know if he'll be medically cleared to play again. I'd say a quality offensive line would make throwing to Fitz more appealing, not to mention a lot easier.
True, Peyton hasn't always had the best offensive line in Indy, but his neck wasn't on the line either.
This means Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves need to convince Manning that a stud left tackle is their top priority in the draft. There should be one or two available at number 13, where the Cardinals currently sit. Or maybe it's worth the Cards trading up to try and land USC's Matt Kalil or Riley Reiff of Iowa? Of course, they may want to do that regardless of who their QB is, especially since their current left tackle, Levi Brown, is a free agent.
Aside from a competent (at the very least) offensive line, Manning will also likely want the freedom to basically run his own offense like he did with the Colts. Will Ken Whisenhunt oblige? One would think so. But what if the Cards hire Todd Haley as quarterbacks coach? Could those personalities co-exist?
On the surface, Manning and the Cardinals is a match made in heaven. After all, they have more offensive playmakers than the other two obvious suitors (Dolphins and Redskins), and a defense with a lot of upside (assuming they get a deal done with Calais Campbell).
I think Peyton would be great for the Cards and the entire league. He instantly makes a team looking for its first ever Super Bowl ring an instant contender, and will generate a buzz unlike we've ever seen in these parts before.
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