After playing for fourteen seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning said a tearful good-bye to the Colts faithful. He then got on a jet and immediately became the hottest name to hit free agency since Lebron James in the NBA. Before his plane had even landed in Miami there were billboards in cities all over the country, Peyton manning was trending worldwide on twitter, and NFL insiders such as Adam Schefler claimed to have an inside track on his prospective destination.
According to reports there are twelve teams that are interested in signing Manning but the impact of where Manning decides to play the final years of his hall of fame career will alter the landscape of a franchise, impact this years NFL draft, possibly change the careers of several young NFL quarterbacks, and impact the longevity of an head coach. Although Manning will only be able to choose one team, the impact of his selection will affect the off season plans of 32 NFL teams:
We will begin with the AFC East
2011 Season Outlook: Despite their offensive output early in the season they were riddled by the injury bug revealing there need for more depth along the offensive line and defensive back field. Rookie defensive tackle, Marcel Dareus had an inconsistent rookie year but showed flashes of dominance. Despite his frequent bouts of immaturity, Steve Johnson proved himself to be a serviceable number one go-to receiver
- Offseason Questions: Will Fred Jackson make a full recover from his ACL injury? Will the Bills add more depth along their offensive line (ex. guard Steve Hutchinson)? Is CJ Spiller poised for a breakout year? What direction will the Bills go in the draft?
- Manning Factor: If Manning signs with a team in the AFC East, the need to add depth along the secondary becomes critical.
- 2011 Season Outlook: Despite not making the playoffs at the end of the season they were one of the most dangerest teams in the NFL. Reggie Bush had a career year runninig inside the tackles and the rookie RB Thomas showed glimpses of potential during an injury riddled year. The defense lead by Carlos Dansby was very stout up front but remained questionable in the secondary. Brandon Marshall had another 1,000 receiving yard season and won MVP in this years Pro Bowl
- Offseason Questions: What will be Coach Philibon’s offensive philosophy? Will LB Carlos Dansby return to form after offseason surgery? Will Brandon Marshall be able to go an offseason without being in the headlines or getting arrested? What will the Dolphins do with the eight pick in the draft?
Manning Factor: Where Manning signs will impact who the Dolphins draft with the eight pick? (quarterback if Manning does not sign or depth along the defensive line if he does sign). The careers of Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, the two quarterback on the Dolphins roster will be gravely impacted by the Mannings decision. Henne is an unrestricted free agent and Pennington is recovering from a shoulder injury
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
- 2011 Season Outlook: The Patriots finished a hail mary short of clinching another Super Bowl win. Their tight end Grankowski and Hernandez had career years and the offense was relied on heavily this year due to a defense that was statistically the worst in the NFL. Brady threw for over 4,000 yards and despite the drop in the Super Bowl Wes Welker had another stellar 100-catch year. Vince Wilfork at defensie tackle was relied on heavily due too so few player contributing on the defensive side of the ball
- Offseason Questions: Will the Patriots try to sign Mario Williams in free agency? Will Ochocinco be return to the Patriots next year? Will the Patriot trade their three 1st round picks to move up in the draft? Will Wes Welker be signed to a long term contract? Will the Pats try to sign a gamebreaker at wide receiver (ie Wallace from Pittsburgh)
- Manning Factor: the Patriots found themselves in several shootouts last season and if Manning signs with a team in the AFC East the need for gamebreakers at wide receiver becomes important. The Pats need for a downfield threat and an elite pass rusher are glaring needs that must be filled. The prospects of seeing Manning twice a year is a chilling nightmare especially when your defense was ranked last in the NFL last year.
- 2011 Season Outlook: The entire franchise demonstrated poor maturity and leadership which was evident each time the Jets took the field. Coach Ryan referring to himself as a hall-of-famer, Santonio Holmes quiting on his team in the midst of a playoff run and calling out his quarterback for poor offensive production. The Jets were riddled by injuries along their offensive line and their defense line was unable to apply pressure on the quarterback.
- Offseason Questions: How may games must Coach Ryan win to save his job? Will Santonio Holmes make amends with his Jets teammates? Will the Jets make an offseason splash in free agency? Will Mark Sanchez take the next step and become an elite quarterback?
- Manning Factor: Due to the Manning frenzy, Sanchez received contract extension and a vote of confidence from the Jet front office. Jets must make a off season splash in free agency due to an aging line
Stay tuned for the Manning factor and the offseason outlook for the AFC North tomorrow…