The Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning have decided to part ways after 14 seasons. Although Colts GM, Jim Irsay, and Manning said the decision was not based on finances, the books would seem to suggest otherwise. In July 2011, Manning signed a $90 million, five-year contract, which included a $28 million bonus if he was not release by March 8, 2012. With the new salary cap for in coming rookies this means that if the Colts select Andrew Luck, widely thought to be the number one QB prospect and first choice of the Colts, even at the top of the salary structure the Colts can pay Luck a contract about equal to Manning’s bonus for a four year deal.
Irsay used the word “rebuilding” several times in his press conference when speaking about the Colts future without Manning and recognized: “We’re definitely a few years away.” Just a few years away? Before Peyton Manning, Irsay was known for making irrational roster moves like releasing talent while keeping mediocrity, leaving him with a team where some of the best players were the kickers…can you remember who they were? Chris Gardocki and Cary Blanchard.
Has Irsay just had a slip of amnesia and gone back to the 90’s or maybe he knows exactly what he is doing bringing in a potential future star in rookie QB Andrew Luck.
A side-by-side comparison of Luck and Manning’s three-year college statistics reveal that Luck tops Manning in all but total yards 9,430 yards to 10,060 yards respectively. In completion percentages Luck significantly surpasses Manning 69.43% to 62.82%. Luck also threw for 82 TD’s and 22 INT’s to Manning’s 79 TD’s and 27 INT’s. Just looking at the raw numbers one could say that Luck is the better prospect coming out of college. However, let us not overlook the fact that Manning threw against SEC defenses and Luck against the PAC-10. The SEC has, arguably, the better overall defensive performances from its teams.
Speculation over Irsay’s decision will persist until Manning plays a full season and Luck is actually signed and plays with the Colts. If Manning has a poor or even mediocre season in Denver, and Luck has a mediocre to great season Irsay looks like a genius; if the roles are reversed he might be the one looking for a new job.