Jets to Enter Manning Sweepstakes?

The Peyton Manning sweepstakes are set to begin tomorrow.

Sources are reporting that after 14 years together, the Indianapolis Colts and Manning are parting ways, and a press conference is expected on Wednesday to make the move official. With the Colts passing on the $28 million bonus owed to Manning and not picking up the last four years of his contract, Manning becomes a free agent.

[caption id="attachment_513" align="alignleft" width="249" caption="Peyton Manning. // Photo by Dilip Vishwanat, Getty Images."][/caption]

The Colts have been restructuring their organization, firing vice chairman Bill Polian as well as his son, general manager Chris Polian. Irsay also fired head coach Jim Caldwell and most of Caldwell’s staff. Manning was forced to sit out all of 2011 after having surgery to repair a neck injury, and the Colts finished with a 2-14 record, landing the first pick in the draft. They’re likely taking quarterback Andrew Luck out of Stanford, or quarterback Robert Griffin III out of Baylor.

It’s reported that Manning wished to stay in Indianapolis, but the decision was not a financial one, as Irsay did not choose to negotiate restructuring Manning’s contract.

Let the bidding begin.

One possible destination for Manning is, of course, the Jets. With Mark Sanchez struggling to become the player he needs to be, many Jets fans are clamoring for Manning.

In some ways, the Jets are an ideal candidate for Manning. Tom Moore, Manning’s former mentor and offensive coordinator at the start of his career, was an offensive consultant for the Jets in 2011 and is open to returning. The Jets are built to “win now,” and Manning can’t possibly have that many years left in his career. For a guy with so much talent, it’s kind of hard to believe he only has one Super Bowl victory. Little brother Eli Manning is here playing for the Giants. Peyton is the kind of guy who can make the kind of throws that will keep Santonio Holmes from acting like a spoiled twelve year old.

And the Jets have already established that they’re not afraid to go after a great quarterback that they think will help them win – see:  Brett Favre, 2008.

But while Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum told Michael Kay on 1050 ESPN New York that the Jets haven’t completely ruled out Manning and will definitely at least make an inquiry, they have publicly expressed their commitment to Mark Sanchez. Both Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan expect Sanchez to be the starter next season.

The Jets have a lot invested with Sanchez. He’s been billed as "the Sanchise" since the day he was drafted. His contract is enormous. It would be embarrassing if he turned out to be a complete bust. Some fans would say he’s a complete bust right now, but that’s a hasty call to make at this point. Add to this that Sanchez, 25, is far younger than Manning, who will be 36 when the season start. And Manning has had three or four neck surgeries. One good hit could knock him out for good.

[caption id="attachment_512" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Peyton Manning (18) and Mark Sanchez (6). // Photo by Brian Spurlock, US Presswire."][/caption]

There’s the idea of bringing in Manning and having Sanchez back him up for a season or two; apprenticing wasn’t something Sanchez ever did in the NFL. He’s been the Jets starter from day one. Sanchez could probably learn a thing or two from Manning, but it’s doubtful whether Sanchez would be willing to accept that role after being a starter for three seasons. He is a team player, so it’s not impossible, but would Sanchez be able to swallow that much of his pride? Who knows.

But that scenario seems unlikely. The Jets don’t have a lot of money to spend and desperately need to upgrade at number of positions – safety, being an example. They need an outside linebacker. They need to re-sign defensive lineman Sione Pouha. Even though Manning has said he'd be willing to sign an incentive laden contract rather than one with guaranteed cash, the Jets would still be more likely to release Sanchez in the event of bringing in Manning, unless Sanchez agrees to drastically restructure his contract.

So will Manning end up with the Jets?

The Post is reporting, “The Jets definitely will consider signing Manning, a source said Tuesday.

The source said the Jets need to see how healthy Manning is before deciding how aggressively they will pursue him. They are also wrestling with the idea of completely shaking up their franchise.”

It’s an anonymous source being quoted in the Post, but it’s something. Jets fans will have to wait and see.

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